A Message on Racial Justice Matters at Washington Academy
To the Washington Academy Community:
Over the course of the last six months, people around this country have demanded change like never before. They have insisted, loudly and clearly, that they will no longer tolerate the systematic racism and injustice that is so deeply ingrained in our culture. I believe that this call for change is long overdue, and I have been proud to see Washington Academy students and one young lady in particular, take a brave and active role in identifying and eliminating racial inequities wherever they exist.
Washington Academy takes pride in its commitment to racial justice. We enjoy the benefit of having the most diverse student body in Downeast Maine, and we celebrate racial diversity in our curricula and programming. That said, I know that Washington Academy is not perfect. Like any other institution, here in Washington County or anywhere else in the country, we are affected by systemic racism and implicit biases. While this can be a difficult thing to admit, I believe that an honest assessment of Washington Academy is a necessary first step towards addressing these issues.
Starting this summer, in response to requests by Washington Academy students, we began to take a look at our school and see what we could do to ensure that we are providing students and staff with a safe, equitable, and fair educational environment. This assessment consisted of a cooperative approach between the Washington Academy administration, Board of Trustees, and students and families. After conducting this review, we have implemented the following:
Appointed a Director of Diversity
Created a Trustees Diversity Committee
Created an Educator Diversity Committee
Established a student Civil Rights Team
Educators are participating in monthly professional development on Race, Equality and Inclusion
Ten representatives, from Trustees, Administrators, and Counselors & Teachers are participating in a year-long Cultural Competence Institute
Educators are participating monthly in Race, Equity & Inclusion professional development
Students & Staff are engaged in school-wide diversity programming
Our Gay, Straight, Transgender Alliance continues to meet
In addition, we have contracted with Carnie Sandoe & Associates’ lead consultant for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Lawrence Alexander. Mr. Alexander will conduct an Equity Audit, which will identify where we can take further steps towards addressing problems as they arise. This audit will continue throughout the school year, and will provide members of the community with an opportunity to make their voices heard – you can expect to hear more from me about this in the near future.
I am excited about and proud of the actions that we are taking here at Washington Academy, and I am sure that they are just the beginning. I believe that Washington Academy can be, and should be, a leader in the fight for racial justice in Downeast Maine. I will be in touch with you all again with more updates, but look forward to working with you on this subject in a productive, transparent way. In the meantime, thank you all for your continued commitment to and support of Washington Academy.
We recognize that our work in the area of equity and inclusion going forward does not erase any harm done to our community members in the past. For that we are deeply sorry. What we can assure you is that going forward we will be a more inclusive, equitable, and just community. You can hold us accountable to that and we hope to re-engage members of our community from years past as we redefine our path forward.
Head of School