The Road to Inclusivity

Inclusive. What does it mean in a school environment? First, that every individual in our community is viewed as equal. We value all students, appreciate differences, and encourage each to celebrate others. This applies when playing on a team or on the playground, performing at a coffee house, singing in a concert, or articulating an idea in the classroom.

My goal this year is for every member of the GFA community to have an authentic sense of belonging.

Over the years, I have realized that community is not necessarily a place, because the word evokes a feeling that a place alone cannot. Rather it is shared values that make a community and can spring forth as easily in a drafty building full of artist studios as on a windy, lakeside campus, or in a tightly knit neighborhood, or within a workplace or a school. In a school, this feeling of community radiates outward in space and time from students to families to graduates.

I believe a unique aspect of GFA is that our students thrive within a climate of close working relationships between teacher and student, and through the quality of these relationships develop trust and comfort with the adult world. Emerging from these shared experiences is a “sense of community” that helps define GFA and shape our lives.

The GFA experience for each student should be rich in four aspects:

Supportive — where peers and faculty build up students’ confidence and reassure them at moments when they doubt themselves.

Generative — where students are encouraged to take intellectual risks, to step outside their comfort zones by trying something new, and therefore grow in ways they were not quite sure they could.

Respectful — where who you are and where you come from are valued, and where students’ wishes and thoughts are listened to.

Safe — where students can be their full and authentic selves and be affirmed by their peers and the adults in the community.

And when these are in place, we are well along the road to inclusivity.

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