Dear BFS Community,
I am joined by thousands of educators around our nation who sit, rocked with pain over the senseless loss of innocent lives, who were spending the day in their sanctuary—their school.
We are inextricably connected to the broken hearts of the Uvalde, Texas, community and all at Robb Elementary School.
I have paused and paused again while seated in front of a blank page on my screen, remembering the unfortunate and painful too many times when I have tried to put words to feelings following tragic mass murders of beautiful humans, whose lives were ended far too soon. Each time, I have been mindful of using words that would not be about politics or personal viewpoints. Each time, I have been mindful of inserting hope amid the present tragedies. Each time, I have prayed before hitting send, hoping that there would be no other letter needed because it would never happen again.
Today, I lean on my courage to write the earnest thoughts within me because I am a leader of a Quaker school—a community that is focused on the worth and integrity of each human being and which believes that we have an obligation to uphold all that is just and good. In doing so, we must tell the truth. An 18-year-old, barely out of childhood himself, and clearly suffering and in need of social-emotional support, purchased rifles on his 18th birthday that he used to hurt his grandmother, injure many, kill 19 children and two teachers—and destroy the lives of all left behind who will never be the same again. He was able to do so because we are in a nation that has the power to utilize our justice systems to put in place laws that would create greater safeguards and more stringent controls. And yet, we refuse to do so. Research proves that we are a nation with more guns than people, and of the more than 393 million firearms, only about 6 million are registered. As a nation, we must take a stand and recognize that:
- Teaching children how to hide from people who may want to hurt them fundamentally negates the purpose of schools, which is to help students thrive and grow in spaces of safety and love.
- Training educators to conduct drills on how to protect their students in the event of an intruder stomps on the very premise of why we devote ourselves to our craft.
- In some states, leading professional development to help educators learn how to carry and use firearms for self-protection negates the moral code of why we become educators in the first place.
- And… above all, the protection of personal freedoms must not be at the expense of the protection of innocent lives. We must DO better.
Thus, this now less-blank page stares at me and draws me to give light to our community, which over the past 16 hours has already mobilized to provide support to all colleagues, ensuring that our students have spaces where they can share their thoughts, questions, and feelings as needed. The compassionate messages shared by our divisional leaders and counselors have lifted what is just and good right here at BFS. While understandably navigating pain with a mixture of disbelief, outrage, and helplessness, we are also present for one another and for our students and families.
Here at BFS, we know what care looks like and feels like. We understand the fragility of childhood. We honor and respect life. We believe in a divine inner light that deserves to be honored within each human being. We are flawed and beautifully imperfect humans who seek to address the ills of the world one learning moment and meaningful interaction at a time.
As such, on this day, I hold out hope once again that those with the power to make effective and immediate change do so. I hope that the lives of the eight and nine-year-olds and those of their caring teachers are remembered and honored in such a manner that the innocent may one day exist in love and peace.
Forever holding on to hope,