Dear GAC Family,
I continue to be brokenhearted by all that has unfolded in recent weeks across our nation. I grieve with others for the families of victims like Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd and those whose names we do not know who have suffered needlessly. I wish that racism, and the violence that rises from it, hadn’t caused their senseless suffering and deaths. I want to continue to move to a place where all members of our Black community feel safe and valued. Yet “wishing” things were different brings no progress. We’ve got real work to do. In America. In every institution. In the Church. In every school and college. And, yes, absolutely—in GAC.
So let me say this unequivocally: GAC stands against racism in any form, whether in word or deed, whether overt or systemic. Racism is a sin against our fellow human beings, and against God. We will teach our children to stand against racism, hold ourselves and our students accountable surrounding racism, and continue to change ourselves and our practices, as we continue to learn more. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:26, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” If racism has ever been a part of your GAC experience, we are deeply sorry. We make a lasting commitment to keep learning about inequity, and to improve ourselves and our school to more fully live out the love of Christ for all people.
Despite my best intentions to have a godly heart and right words, I know that on issues of justice, mercy, and equity, I will miss the mark at times. My experiences, opportunities, and trials in life are different than others, and I admit that I cannot fully grasp how a given phrase or idea may come across to another person. Even with efforts to seek wise counsel from diverse and trusted advisors, I recognize that perspectives are varied and broad. And that’s why I ask for and need your grace. When I err--and I will--I hope you will feel comfortable enough to tell me, so that I may better reflect the Spirit of Christ. As we journey together, I pray that God will lead all of us as we seek to make GAC the very best example of a Christ-centered diverse and inclusive school community where every student feels they belong.
As a school community, our board and administration have tried to live by policies and practices that demonstrate equity, and the equal value of all. Despite that, we know that unconscious bias and racism can be in our hearts, and impact our individual and collective actions—yes, and our school. While we alone cannot solve our nation’s troubles, we can take on the realms that God has given us…our churches and local communities; our own homes where stereotypes and false narratives still exist; and our school…together.
Progress and planning are already underway, and that planning will be far better as we listen and learn from you, our GAC community. Here’s what is already underway:
- In the coming 10 days, you should be receiving a parent survey. We welcome your feedback on GAC’s efforts ahead on discrimination and equity. We hope you will share your perspective on both where we have done well in the past, as well as where we need to grow and change. I expect the feedback we receive may include many dimensions and I look forward to hearing your voices as well as reporting back to you on findings, and meaningful progress now and for the future for our children and GAC community.
- While your feedback will help shape our plans, here are some elements we are already working toward - student and faculty training; curriculum review and upgrades; review of discipline policies; culture building; dedicating financial resources; policy changes and approaches to staffing, and other important steps that are still taking shape.
- We are listening to our parents and students, past and present. In the last few days, GAC leaders have met with individuals and groups of recent alum, parents, and current students. I’m grateful for their hearts and their desire to help GAC move forward. We plan to continue to provide opportunity to listen to members of our community.
I have great hope. I believe God is at work in the challenges our nation and institutions have faced in spring and summer of 2020. Let’s take courage together and resolve to follow God’s lead. Let us “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8). And may the hope of Christ be evident in our actions together, and in our steps ahead that will shape a better world for our children.
Scott Harsh, Ed.D