As you may have heard, this year I am co-teaching Advanced U.S. History with my colleague, Randy Stearns, to 11th and 12th graders. Each day in class, we try to help students both understand and define the American experience.
As we grapple with what makes our national experience unique, two elements, among many, emerge. One is our diversity of thought and opinion—a direct outcome from our rich immigrant heritage—the other is our ability to sustain a vision of inclusiveness and freedom during times of challenge and crisis.
Trevor students are acutely aware of the many societal challenges we face—whether that be the border crisis and treatment of refugees, the gun violence epidemic, or climate change, to name a few.
Crises are difficult to grapple with—in our homes and in our schools—but they do offer opportunities to teach our children. A liberal arts education grounded in both empathy and critical thinking provides students with the wherewithal to act—whether that action is inspired by successful role models in history, or created anew to counter the unique issues that face their generation. And that is what we are privileged to witness. So often our young people—who know that hope alone is not enough—are taking action. Take pride in:
As parents and educators, one of our most important roles is to make sure that children are empowered to act and understand that their action and commitment are what will change the world. As they continue to witness the agency of others, and are empowered to envision a future that is theirs to mold, we will see even more of our young people engaged in human rights, immigration, environmental policy, gun control, and as leaders in our city, state, and national governments.
Of course, students need tools to effect change. Those come in the form of sharing knowledge, empathy, and power. Some of the major strategic curricular goals we are working toward include the broadening of Trevor’s service learning program (so that the curriculum ties more directly to service opportunities, both locally and abroad); the strengthening of sustainability education and practice in our community (the planning for which is a focus of both the Board’s Education Committee and a Professional Learning Community of faculty and staff); and the deepening of our study and community-building around equity, inclusivity, and engagement. This year’s introduction of the Pollyanna Racial Literacy curriculum in both Lower and Middle School is an important step.
Our students are absolutely right—hope alone won’t change the world. It’s also actions taken, both big and small. And that’s what gives me hope.
Scott R. Reisinger
Head of School