by Steve Roushakes
If there is one thing I have learned in my twenty years as an educator, it’s this:
To learn, grow, and be happy, students need to feel safe.
I remember, during the weeks after 9/11, many of our Muslim and foreign-born students felt uncertain, and downright scared, by what they perceived as a general hostility towards them among the American public. One of our parents went so far as to wear a baseball cap to cover her headscarf while driving.
But during those dark days there was never any question that The New School was, and will always be, a thoughtful school of dialogue, decency, and trust. We are an inclusive community where all of our students feel safe and thrive.
This year’s presidential campaign has been ugly and shocking, with xenophobic, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, and Islamophobic rhetoric; and with the election of Donald Trump, people again – especially our foreign-born and Muslim citizens and residents – feel unsafe and uncertain about the future.
The feeling is not lost on children and young adults, and already we see students feeling anxious, which can only inhibit their social, emotional, and academic growth. Such a state of fear is unacceptable, especially where the wellbeing of our children is concerned.
Please know that The New School is, and will always be, an inclusive, welcoming, and safe space for all students.
Please know, too, that we are a school based on open dialogue and reason; we don’t toe a particular party line – we let our students draw their own conclusions – but we do openly cherish our diverse student body and faculty, our one-of-a-kind academic program, and the humanity and thoughtfulness of our school culture.
I’m so proud to be part of The New School, and I smile inwardly and outwardly each unique day at our wonderful school.
My door is always open, friends.
Assistant Head of School
The New School of Northern Virginia