|Green Glasses Initiative & Its Significance To Recent Events|
Parents, Guardians & Staff,
As I have seen the protests and gatherings of people around the world, I am struck by the significance of our Green Glasses initiative this past school year. Certainly, the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us on many levels, but what we are seeing now is a different kind of challenge… one that reinforces the importance of dialogue, listening and reflection. How can we translate what is happening nationally into meaningful lessons for our own community? Insensitive social media posts by disrespectful individuals do not represent all that is good and caring and compassionate about our school district. So I am compelled to speak out and try to make sense of these circumstances.
After a full year of practicing and teaching kindness, empathy, inclusivity, respectful communication and more, we find ourselves facing once again world issues that require us to practice the very things we regularly teach; there is no greater time than the present to be mindful of our fellow human beings, community and world.
As a school district employing hundreds of educators who truly love children, we are committed to the social-emotional needs of our students and we are committed to raising human beings whose actions exemplify all of the Green Glasses traits. And not just on our designated Green Glasses days, but always. Every day.
Even our Board priorities and administrative goals underscore the importance of an inclusive culture, racial and ethnic tolerance and the social-emotional respect ALL individuals deserve. At Westlake High School, specifically, we have teachers, coaches and counselors who devote time daily to diversity, Title IX and gender, social-emotional health and inclusion. Social studies and English teachers regularly use current events as learning opportunities.
As I reflected on the pain and injustice we have seen over the past several days, I remembered this Mr. Rogers clip we showed during Convocation.
I looked through this year’s Green Glasses messages and believe the following excerpt is relevant to what we are seeing these past several days.
When it comes right down to it, I think all of us have a desire to be understood. The way we treat others (human/plant/animal, our planet), is directly connected to our ability to understand another’s perspective or another’s emotions at any given moment. Empathy, the focus of this newsletter, can have different meanings. While at times, some connect empathy and sympathy, most recognize while connected, they come from a different place.
Our schools support students with the development of empathy and resiliency skills. Schools continually provide opportunities for students to grow as leaders as they connect with others and learn to respect different perspectives. The understanding of someone else’s perspective helps us gain confidence as we develop our own identity and become more resilient, navigating the challenges we all inevitably face.
While the school year is over, I am inspired to continue the kindness conversation – especially during this significant moment in our country. I leave you with these short, but powerful words that reflect our views on social injustice.
Be well and be kind,
Dr. Tom Leonard
Superintendent of Schools