Perhaps the greatest wisdom of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was about our relationship with the future. From the earliest days of his ministry, Dr. King celebrated changemakers who feel "a sort of divine discontent" with the injustices of today and pursue a better tomorrow. He exhorted listeners never to confuse "the 'isness' of an old order with the 'oughtness' of a new order."1 Dr. King understood that calls for freedom are the work of every generation, predating even Moses. And yet he kept listeners and followers primed for change and oriented towards tomorrow. His final book, written in 1967, placed the American Civil Rights movement in the global context of a worldwide "freedom explosion." He included this warning for those who wish to cultivate a better future: "Nothing could be more tragic than for men to live in these revolutionary times and fail to achieve the new attitudes and the new mental outlooks that the new situation demands."2
I hope that you and your families are anchored safely and calmly at the center of the many storms we are weathering this month. As difficult as it has been for all of us to process the pain and fear sparked by the assault on the Capitol, especially the rioters' messages of white supremacy and anti-semitism, I am so proud of our Westtown students and educators for engaging in courageous conversations, carefully considering how to restructure lessons and provide support, and looking out for self and others. I look forward to sharing further thoughts in a few days, when we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Day in and day out, Westtown School is building a better future.
As I write this letter, our world continues to witness history in the making. Between a global pandemic, an impassioned drive for racial justice, and an escalating climate crisis, the future is taking shape. An unprecedented assault on democracy has laid bare both the strengths and weaknesses of this very republic. Yet through it all, Westtown continues to pursue our centuries-old work in Quaker education, teaching children and teens to understand and respect that of God in themselves and others, and helping them develop into resilient, fulfilled, and grounded adults.
One year ago, teachers were in classrooms and parents were not. Now, with virtual or hybrid learning, parents and caregivers are participating in a much more material way with students’ education. The classroom is now the dining room, the bedroom, or some other space at home. This unexpected blending of roles is not simple to navigate. Considering the circumstances of this school year and the reason for all of the adjustments we are making, it may be helpful to have a bank of ways to respond to things that are happening at home from a learning specialist’s perspective. Here are some common situations that you might encounter. Read more!
Perception determines and drives our approach, attitude, and actions in any given situation. The current global pandemic we are facing —and our varying responses to it— is a testament to the power of perception and how it impacts our experience, our behaviors, and the choices we make moment to moment. Read more!
In response to the violence of systemic racism that we have witnessed this year, Marissa Colston, our Dean of Diversity & Inclusion, offers ways in which all of us can engage in nonviolent action. Read more!