June 3, 2020
To the members of our S.E.A.L. community,
The School of Expressive Arts and Learning's mission has always been to provide a therapeutic educational environment that facilitates communication between children, families, and the community through the encouragement of academic achievement and successful life experiences. As employers and educators, the School of Expressive Arts and Learning condemns acts of violence against members of the Black community. We denounce racism and hatred in any form. To the S.E.A.L. staff, students, and families of color, we see you and stand beside you. Part of providing successful life experiences for our students, includes; direct and open conversations about race, engagement in social activism, fighting for equity, and providing our staff the necessary tools, training events, and opportunities to adequately teach students of all races, ethnicities, orientations and social backgrounds.
As a therapeutic day school, we will rise to the challenge of finding unique, constructive, and quality materials so we can help our students recognize that racism is deeply and historically rooted in our nation while also bringing to light the gravity of the social injustices currently occurring around them. Just as we strive to teach our students about autonomy and self-advocacy, we will work as a team to advocate for a better, more equitable future. We will continue to teach students of all ages to foster and embrace diversity, inclusiveness and equality with the hope that they will one day be the voices of change in their communities. S.E.A.L. is committed to forming a racially and ethnically diverse committee of teachers, clinicians, and leaders to take a closer look at cultivating a school culture that is anti-racist and anti-hate.
As we look to assemble a Staff Equality Committee who will be responsible for developing continuing education, community outreach and support for all the members of the S.E.A.L. community, we have set up a temporary email address at firstname.lastname@example.org. This email is a place for any staff or students who need to reach out for additional support during this week of summer break. Any emails received will be reviewed by the administration, and directed to the appropriate clinicians. We look forward to continuing this conversation and connecting with everyone through remote learning on June 9, 2020.
We are saddened that we cannot be with our colleagues and students in person during these unimaginably difficult times. S.E.A.L. believes a better world is possible and continues to hope for the health, safety, and well-being of all our S.E.A.L. families.
The School of Expressive Arts and Learning Administration
and Management Teams
The School of Expressive Arts and Learning has established the SEAL Equity Committee. This diverse group of motivated staff is committed to helping S.E.A.L. cultivate a school culture that is anti-racist and anti-hate. The first meeting of this committee took place on June 18th, 2020.
During this meeting, members touched on the topic of the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, Juneteenth. On June 19, 1865 the announcement that all enslaved people were free — more than two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation and three months after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered.
S.E.A.L. staff are encouraged to continue educating themselves on the history and events that have brought us to where we are today as a nation, as an educational institution, and perhaps most importantly, as educators and mentors for our students. This knowledge will inevitably transcend the way S.E.A.L. operates and functions as critical adults in our student's lives.
The Illinois State Board of Education Recommends the following books as resources and educational material:
So You Want to Talk About RaceI by Ijeoma Oluo
A Black Woman's History of the United States by Daina Ramey Berry
When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele
The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton, and
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
"Facing History and Ourselves: Reflecting on Juneteenth"