Dear Sherwood Students, Families, Staff, and Community Members,
On a national — and in fact, global — stage, we are witnessing a massive public response to the impacts of historic and systematic racism within our society. As we engage with the news, social media, and interactions with our friends and loved ones, all of us are affected by the images of large-scale protests happening in major cities throughout our country and the world — and more importantly, the tragic and senseless deaths of black men and women. These events are troubling and for many, shocking. However, while all of us are processing our personal emotions and thoughts around these events, it is essential that we recognize the more significant impacts of racism and systematic oppression for our students, staff, and families of color within our community.
Several recent events have drawn attention to the violence and tragic loss of life that occurs as a result of racism and racist ideologies, including the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. While the growing protests we are seeing in our nation began as a direct response to these deaths, and as a call for justice for those responsible, these protests also reflect the pain, anger, and trauma of generations of racist oppression and racially-motivated violence against members of the Black community and other communities of color.
As a school district, we stand with our students, families, and staff members of color, and are working to create safe, affirming, and equitable learning environments for all students and staff. We are committed to identifying racism within the structure of our organization, educating our leadership and other staff members to engage in antiracist and social justice work, and increasing our capacity to serve the needs of our historically underrepresented students. We are actively working to hire staff of color to make our workforce more representative of the students and families we serve, bringing more diverse perspectives to our district.
And yet, we recognize that there is still work to do, and there is still improvement needed to be a better staff, a better organization, and a better representation of diversity and racial justice for our students, staff, and families. We know institutional racism still exists, and are striving to be able to more clearly see it and eliminate it from our schools. We know our communities of color experience racially-motivated harassment, microaggressions, and other forms of bullying. And, as an organization with predominantly white leadership, we don’t always have the knowledge to understand or the skills to address these and the myriad of other issues faced by our communities of color. Where we have failed in this regard, we are truly sorry.
It is not enough to talk about our goals for equity; we must engage in active antiracism as a means to challenge long-standing systematic oppression, in order to create sustainable and lasting change. This begins with educating administrators and staff across our district on recognizing privilege and engaging students in discussions about race. We encourage our staff members to review the attached staff resources to help with this learning, found here.
We also know that many parents and guardians are struggling right now with how to talk to their children about what is currently happening in our country. For this reason, we are providing a list of resources for students and families as well, found here.
We as a district are committed to taking actionable next steps to support and serve the needs of our students, families, and staff of color. Violence, racism, discrimination, and marginalization have no place in our schools and our district, and must be eliminated from our organization. Anything less than continued and sustained progress towards this goal is unacceptable, and we stand committed to working with our stakeholders to take an honest inventory of where we are, identify where we need to be, and create active, actionable steps to get there. Thank you for joining us and supporting us in this work.
Dr. Heather Cordie, Superintendent
Patrick Allen, Board Chair
Sue Hekker, Board Vice Chair
Eric Campbell, Board Member
Jessica Adamson, Board Member
Michael Hiland, Board Member