I think I arrived in Minnesota close to a year ago. I arrived during an April snowstorm that you all promised was a freak anomaly. As I write this at home in my purple bathrobe during our 6th (or is it 7th? I have lost count) snow day of the year, I’m not so sure what to believe…
I can tell you what I know for certain, what I do believe in, I believe in our children, and their active, activist spirits that we nurture at Friends School of Minnesota. In the space of one week in March there were three events that inspired me:
1. Student Strike for Climate Change. Middle School students from the Environmental Action Club lobbied Steve Moe and me to take them to the Capitol for an international student rally. They prepared signs and speeches, analyzed the event and issues in earnest conversations to and from the event (Steve is an amazing educator, even while driving the bus!), and were thrilled to find several FSMN alum at the event (a testimony to the ongoing power we awaken within students).
Students were struck by the fact that they were the youngest there, and pretty much the only ones actively supported by their schools to “go on strike.” One student said to me, “It’s so cool that the first time our Head of School ever visits the Capitol is for a student strike about climate change!”
2. GSA Legislation Rally. Students from our Gender and Sexuality Alliance – a club organized by middle school students – organized to go to the state legislature to support a bill proposing to ban “conversion therapy” of LGBTQ+ minors. When the hearing was rescheduled at the last moment, moving it to late in the evening, two of the students were still able to attend and bear witness.
3. Honoring an Anniversary. A little over a year ago, FSMN came together in silent worship in solidarity with the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, (and I was doing the same with our students at the Monteverde Friends School in Costa Rica – here is what I wrote at the time). This year, Humanities teachers Alissa and Melissa streamed a live town hall forum in Minneapolis featuring David Hogg, a survivor and activist following the shooting, speaking on “Putting the USA over the NRA.” Grade 7/8 students actively journaled during the session and engaged in a long, deep dialogue immediately after.
This is what drew me here from Costa Rica – the chance to be part of a community actively engaging in the critical issues of our time. Our dedicated educators go above and beyond to weave current issues into the school day. They listen when students bring up their own thoughts and ideas, helping them to extend their learning. They teach the students how to critically analyze and engage from a foundation of values. The students then demand action, inspiring us to live out our beliefs and values. This is how we change the world – leading and being led by our children.