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Dear Henley Colleagues:

I had the opportunity last week to sign a statement from our School Board fully supporting our anti-racism commitment and work.  If you have not had the chance to see the statement, I want to focus on this part in particular—

“We stand by our endorsement of programs and activities that empower staff to meet the requirements of our anti-racism policy.  This expressly includes Henley Middle School’s concluded pilot activity that added racial awareness conversations to its student advisory periods.  We applaud the school’s staff and its students for their participation in a program that will allow the school division to learn from this experience.”

Thinking about your service to the learning, safety and wellness of our students and about your courage, I was reminded of why I chose to dedicate my professional life to education.  It’s not by chance that schools are on the leading edge of change that brings competence, respect and care to our society.  I always have thought that, and I always have wanted to be a part of that, just like you. 

No, not by chance but because public schools are the one place in our society today where a young person will not be turned away.  If not by choice then certainly by circumstance and commitment, schools are where communities are built, where they prosper and where they come together. 

Henley’s student advisory pilot program, your pilot program, has been true to this commitment.  That it has come with a price, in the form of unfair, inaccurate and disguised criticism, only underscores the importance of your work.  If it were unimportant, it would not matter.

Your commitment to educating the whole child does matter, and it will continue to matter.  I am so very grateful to each one of you who is so strongly committed to your students and families and to one another.  I am so proud that you willingly embrace the uneasy challenge of opening, more widely, the doors of access to all students: Learning for All.

Thank you for teaching us the right thing to do. 

Have a safe and enjoyable summer.  

Respectfully,

Matthew Haas