Address: Butler Elementary School
90 White St,
Belmont, MA 02478
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Dear Butler Families,
We are living in extraordinary and disturbing times. While there is so much heaviness and pain right now, I wanted to reach out to let you know that we have been deep in thought and reflection here at the Butler School to figure out how to best support your children and you.
As you might be aware, we have been working for a number of years on developing awareness, skills, and strategies to be an ever more Culturally Responsive School. This means many things, and right now we feel an urgency to mark this moment, and say out loud and steadfastly that we actively promote anti-racism, that we cherish diversity, and that we love, value, and stand with our black and brown children, families, and community members.
This morning I called a staff meeting to plan for how we would go about this important endeavor in the context of remote learning, the end of the year events, and the developmental levels of our students. We also discussed the journey we are all on in widening our lens on justice, and how we can support each family where you are. Below is what we have planned.
We will be having a whole-school read aloud as part of our daily morning message, that will be a part of next Monday’s grid sent by classroom teachers to you. Ms. Quinn (our school Social Worker) will be providing activities that teachers will make a part of next week’s work. If you would like to preview the book, it is “Say Something” by Peter H. Reynolds.
We would like to invite you to “round table” meetings so that we can hear your thoughts, concerns, questions, suggestions, and share resources:
For K-2 Parents: Wednesday, June 10th @ 8:30am (meeting link will be shared via students' primary email address)
For 3-4 Parents: Tuesday, June 9th @ 4pm (meeting link will be shared via students' primary email address)
*Members of our staff, including grade level teachers, our mental health team, and myself will be facilitating these meetings.*
Research shows that children notice race as early as three months old and thoughtful conversations about race can markedly shape young children’s perceptions and biases. As seen in the graphic below from the The Children's Community School, our children are not too young to learn about race and racism. We deeply hope that you will partner with us in this critical work, and strongly encourage you reach out and review the resources we have compiled (listed below and shared here) so that you can support your child in helping to make ours a more just, caring, and peaceful world.
As I shared in my newsletter on Monday, change begins with the personal and local, and the best first and ongoing thing we can do is to learn more. I do not have all the answers, and I have been continuously humbled by the insight, wisdom, and thoughtfulness of those around me. This includes many of you parents who have shared your thinking, as well as many of our teachers, who have been passionately seeking to take positive action. I keep reading, I keep listening, I keep watching, and there’s always more to learn. Thank you for helping me to grow.
Last summer I visited my aunt in Nashville and we spent an afternoon at the Civil Rights Room at the Nashville Public Library. I took this photo because it gave me strength and courage. I had it framed and it has been hanging above my office door all year. Thankfully we still have John Lewis' voice to embolden us to action.
I hope you are emboldened too.
Danielle Betancourt, Principal
Discussing Racial Justice with Children
Article: “How to Talk to your Children about Protests and Racism”
Child Mind Institute:
Brief recommendations for discussions with children. Also a facebook discussion with Child Mind Institute psychologists.
Article: “Talking to Kids about Race”
Short interview with author Jennifer Harvey who wrote “Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America.”
“How to talk to your kids about Race and Justice”
Safe Space Radio:
Talking to White Kids about Race and Racism: Tips and Strategies
Teaching Tolerance website
Article: “Why Teaching Black Lives Matter Matters”
American Psychological Association
Article: Talking to Kids About Discrimination
From the NEA Edjustice website:
Kid-Friendly Language for Black Lives Matter Guiding Principles
Multicultural and Social Justice Books:
26 Children’s Books that Celebrate Black Heroes:
CNN/Sesame Street Town Hall:
Saturday, June 6th at 10am: Special event for young viewers and families addressing racism, the protests, and embracing diversity
Article & Great Graphic:
From Civil Rights to Black Liberation: They're Not Too Young to Young to Talk About Race (or Gender)!
Read Aloud of, “Let’s Talk About Race” and discussion for young learners
Video Explaining Systemic Racism to Children
Preston Jackson-Stephens at the Belmont rally. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JNT6MGc1ho