In North Colonie our mission statement for our children states that we are committed to meeting the social, emotional, and academic needs of each and every child within a larger learning community dedicated to growing its capacity to deliver the service of education. This commitment extends to the families of our children and is based on the fact that children learn and grow when they and their families feel accepted, wanted, and valued. We are a caring community and, as such, we are deeply concerned about the impact of life events on all of our members. I fully understand that the vivid testimony presented at the trial of Derek Chauvin, compounded by experienced racism, has had a disproportionate impact on our Black students, parents, and employees as the events surrounding the trial served as a source of new or renewed trauma, bringing forward strong emotions.
Earlier today, we learned that Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all counts in the murder trial of George Floyd. Discussions about the verdict, about social justice, about racial equity, and about policing will most certainly be present in our community. Since we know our schools are a reflection of the community, we can certainly anticipate that our students will be thinking about these topics when they come to school tomorrow. It is our responsibility as educators to assist our students and provide them with the opportunity to process the information that is swirling all around them in local, national, and social media.
This moment is one moment in the long struggle of this nation living up to its ideals. There is a difficult and painful history which precedes it and there will be a future that is shaped by it. Facing our history and understanding its impact on our present day lives is not always easy. In fact, such work can take a toll on individuals, strain relationships, and challenge a community. Nevertheless, I believe helping students to understand the times in which they live in the context of history gives them the opportunity to create a more just community and a better future for all.
I want to assure you that as a district we are intentionally preparing to provide a supportive learning environment as we know students may have questions and concerns. We will be providing support for students who want to express the variety of feelings they may be experiencing about the trial and the verdict. We will also look at this as an opportunity to continue our work as a school community to further address the issues of social justice and the way that systemic racism impacts not just the justice system, but the educational system and our community as a whole.
We share the following resources should families wish to have support in having these discussions and processing these emotions at home.
- Talking to children about difficult news
- Talking about race
- How to talk to young children about racism
- Self care
- Healing in the Face of Cultural Trauma
There is no place for discrimination or racism in our schools and North Colonie schools remain committed to strengthening the safe and supportive environment we strive to provide for all students. Together, we will continue to build our community’s strong foundation of justice and love.
Should you or your child be in need of further support, please contact your child’s school. We stand ready to assist you.
Thank you for your ongoing support of our students, our schools, and our community.
D. Joseph Corr
Superintendent of Schools