A Community Message about Recent Events

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

 

Dear Waterford Community,

On Memorial Day, just a week ago, we watched the appalling fate of George Floyd unfold on video, another in a long line of unheeded and tragic reminders that injustice for black people continues to be a sad reality in our country. Appropriate outrage over what happened to George Floyd has poured forth in cities around the country, including here in the Salt Lake valley. It should be crystal clear to everyone that we are still not yet the nation we were founded to be, not yet a perfect union, not yet a people that makes good on the promise of equality for all.

As an educational community founded on the principles of liberal arts education, we must take notice of this moment, not just let it pass in silence, and pledge to do all we can to teach a better way. 

Our founding philosophy declares that all learning is inescapably moral, as it bears ultimately on how best to live. In addition to stimulating intellect and igniting passion, our mission calls on us to shape character. We must rise to that challenge.

The path forward for America is not clear. Changing entrenched habits of racist abuse in institutions of power is not a simple task. But we do know that part of the solution starts with education. The liberal arts tradition expects students to engage in the kind of moral reflection that would make what happened to George Floyd and so many others unthinkable. Our job as educators, no matter what age group or subject matter we teach, is to make sure that we are guiding students to develop a commitment to the good, and the habits of mind to support that commitment.

In The Republic, Plato argues that justice in a society is likely sustainable only when the political leaders have a true philosophical spirit and are oriented always toward the ideal of the good, an ideal which is  frustratingly elusive. It is this orientation toward the good that is the key. Prematurely declaring that we have found it is the first step away from it. Plato's program of education for his ideal political leaders is the foundation of what we now call liberal arts education. 

Progress begins by cultivating in young people the aspiration to find goodness and truth. And that is what we do at Waterford. Our school is, and must continue to be, a place where the ideals of our nation are consistent with the lived reality of the individuals within our community. We must stand in support of George Floyd and what he has come to represent at this moment in our shared history. The tragic injustice of his fate should unite us in common cause to make this country better through the transformational education we provide to our students. 

As this strange and difficult term at Waterford, marked by the Covid-19 quarantine, comes to an end, we must remind ourselves with hope and optimism of our mission and core values, for it is that commitment that will sustain hope, and will lead us to discover the path forward.

Sincerely,

Andrew Menke​
Head of School

Brandon Bennett
Associate Head of School
Melanie Battistone 
Lower School Head