March 29, 2023

Waverly Commu­nity Members,

Some reflec­tions about what happened in Nashville on Monday. I can never accept mass violence and witness­ing such acts is exceed­ingly diffi­cult. I know it’s hard for teach­ers, students, and parents. This event also reminds us that we need to main­tain our prac­tice of support­ing each other. It’s essen­tial that we remind every­one that while violence pervades our society, we can’t turn to violence to solve our prob­lems. Witness­ing violence means we need to work for peace. The ques­tion of how to embrace and foster peace at school is some­thing we are consid­er­ing and will take action to develop.

While we can make the school phys­i­cally more secure, we need to be certain to provide emotional safety to our peers and family members. Respect­ing other people’s differ­ences, listen­ing when they say they are having a hard time, and under­stand­ing that many of us need mental health support are all impor­tant prac­tices and under­stand­ings. Students who need help or support can reach out to their teacher, advisor, or divi­sion direc­tor or another trusted adult. We recently hired a part-time coun­selor in the elemen­tary school, Malcolm Miller (Malcolm.​miller@​thewaverlyschool.​org), who can be avail­able via email for people with ques­tions while he tran­si­tions into a more regular pres­ence at school. We also continue our search for a full-time middle and high school full-time counselor. 

It is also essen­tial to remem­ber that joking about violence at school is never funny. Because we live in a society where guns, violent films, and games are central to how we enter­tain ourselves, it can be hard for students to under­stand that making jokes about these things is not appro­pri­ate and is actu­ally very scary for others. Reminders about this should come from teach­ers and parents, knowing that students will make mistakes in this regard and may do so to test bound­aries and be provoca­tive. We can remind students in order to help expand their empathy and commu­nal aware­ness. Both are essential skills. 

I am also deeply concerned about how the issue of mass violence is being conflated with anti-trans­gen­der and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric in the broader society. This is stress­ing out many students and parents. I want to remind every­one of our commit­ment to equity and safety for every­one. We rati­fied our Gender Inclu­sion Policy last year with the aim of making school safer and more inclu­sive. The events in Nashville and confla­tion of these issues can make it hard for students and fami­lies to know where we stand. We stand with all our students and fami­lies and want every­one to know and prac­tice inclu­sion and support for all. Gender expres­sion and iden­tity for our fami­lies and students is about knowl­edge of self, self-care, and personal safety and not some­thing we are polit­i­cally debat­ing at school.

Finally, a salute to all of our teach­ers who remain stead­fast in their commit­ment to nurtur­ing and support­ing their students. Thank you to all of you who send your students to us each day. Our part­ner­ship with you is invalu­able. We will get through this together. 

In commu­nity,

Clarke Weath­er­spoon

Talking To Kids About Fear And Violence

Helping your chil­dren manage distress in the after­math of a shooting