Dear GAC Alumni,
I hope you and each of your family members are healthy and well. This is a busy time on the GAC campus as we prepare for the start of another school year. As we are planning for the opening of school in August, this summer’s preparations have required additional careful considerations to provide for the health and safety of our students in new ways.
We have all learned a lot during this global pandemic. Yet, there is another ongoing crisis - although it is not new to this year - that affects all of us in one way or another, and that is racism. I have been heartbroken in the recent weeks by the events across our nation and by the stories that even some of our alumni have expressed.
Recently, I shared these words with our GAC parents, and I wanted you to know our ongoing commitment as well.
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.
As a school community, our Board of Trustees, administrators, and faculty/staff 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. To read the full letter that was sent to our community please visit our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion page on our website.
What are we doing to move forward?
We are committed to growth both as individuals and as a collective body of GAC. Encouraging progress and planning are already underway, and while this is not an exclusive or final list, the following are some of the steps we have taken:
- We are actively listening to the voices of our Black community about the pain of racism and continue to be attuned to their hurt and frustration and committed to growth. We are grateful for the courage of so many who have shared their experiences and insight with us. We will not tolerate racism of any kind, and we will do more to fight against it, together.
- In June 2020, we sent two letters to our current parents and faculty/staff regarding our beliefs around anti-racism and added an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) page on our website.
- We also surveyed parents of current students to provide an opportunity for feedback, both where we have done well in the past, as well as where we need to grow and change.
- In March 2020, Charles Edwards was asked to move from Middle School Principal to be full time Director of Inclusion which allows for focused efforts in the area of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, including leading the Inclusion Task Force, which began in 2018.
- During the 2019-2020 school year, GAC Administrators and members of the Inclusion Task Force received intensive Inclusion and diversity training from a licensed consultant. Faculty members professional development included Responsive Teaching training (which includes diversity and inclusion). We will conduct additional training with all faculty and staff throughout the upcoming year.
- A committee is in the process of reviewing curriculum with an eye towards equity, diversity, and inclusion.
- The Student Handbook is also being assessed with an awareness for equity and inclusion.
- Additionally, discipline procedures are being reviewed by a new committee that will serve in an advisory role with future discipline issues involving racism, inclusion, and equity with consistency across school levels.
- We are seeking a group of alumni from across a broad range of graduation years who may want to visit with us in the area of equity, diversity and inclusion. Your voice would make us better. If you are interested and would like to be nominated please complete the Share Your Voice form.
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. Many of our alumni, like Representative Chuck Efstration ‘01 serving in the Georgia General Assembly, are right in the middle of this positive change, and we are proud of their work. 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.
We would love to see you on campus. Please reach out if I can ever be of service to you.
Scott Harsh, Ed.D