Michael Gary Speaks

During the all-school Meeting for Worship at our annual national alumni board meeting, which was hosted virtually in November, Friends Select students were asked to respond with illustrations to the query: “How do we care for each other and our community?” 

In breakout rooms of small, cross-divisional groups and alumni board members, students shared colorful creations that reflected unity, respect, care, and purpose. 

Demonstrations of these qualities from faculty, staff, students, and families resulted in an extremely successful reopening of the school building last fall, provided confidence in our transition to iSelectLearning when it became necessary, and enabled us to resume in-person instruction safely in January. In community, we followed new health and safety protocols, looked out for one another, and held each other accountable in upholding guiding principles for safety. The extraordinary efforts of our faculty in advancing teaching and learning throughout various degrees of in-person and virtual education fostered cross-divisional collaboration and innovation.
 
Together, we continue to navigate both the COVID-19 pandemic and the pandemic of systemic racism. I had the honor of preparing and organizing our fall virtual in-service day for faculty and staff with a focus on the latter topic. Employees brought their authentic selves to conversations in order to grow together toward becoming cross-culturally competent while learning about systemic racism. Although we only scratched the surface of the topic that day, the small groups that were established are continuing to collaborate to have ongoing conversations, become better acquainted with one another, and provide safe and brave space to be in community. Collectively, we continue to examine how our school is contributing to systemic racism while also continuing conversations with Black alumni who had painful experiences as students. 

At Friends Select, the strength, resilience, and commitment of our community are helping us successfully navigate these dual pandemics together. This is a community of dedicated faculty, staff, students, and families whose care and support for one another have been nothing short of extraordinary. As a Quaker school, this is what it means to be “in community,” as we have now more than ever been charged with a greater responsibility for one another. Being in community is a truly distinct value of Friends Select that has been strengthened throughout this unique school year.