A Message from Waterford's Head of School

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

 

Dear Waterford Community,

Recently a number of Waterford alumni, responding to the ongoing Black Lives Matter demonstrations, reached out to me and other members of the academic administration with a petition urging us to do more to educate Waterford students about race and racism in America. We hosted a Zoom call with all the petitioners, and other alumni they invited to join. Our goal was to listen and learn.

During the call, we heard thoughtful and eloquent voices that affirmed the power of Waterford’s liberal arts education. These engaged citizen-alumni spoke with rare clarity and force about their experience at Waterford, and about their hopes for the future. Some of the most powerful comments came from alumni of color who shared a deep appreciation for the education Waterford provided them, but also some deep pain related to remembered examples of insensitivity from peers and teachers, and to a noticeable lack of support for the culturally specific challenges they faced in trying to find a sense of belonging in their new Waterford community. They were never bitter; but they were eager to help Waterford become a better, stronger, more vibrant liberal arts school.

The promise of our vision, to inspire lives of meaning and purpose, and our liberal arts mission to provide an education that stimulates intellect, ignites passion and shapes character should be fully available to all who pass through our classrooms, and we should seek to expand the range of students who have access to those classrooms. Now more than ever our goal to prepare students for engaged citizenship, in an increasingly complex, interconnected, and interdependent world is vitally important. We are committed to creating, within the framework of the liberal arts, a learning community that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive, where all learners feel respected, challenged, inspired, and supported no matter their skin color. We have work to do. We are committed to listening and learning, and to making improvements in curriculum, teacher and student training, hiring practices and student recruitment, which will result in a more racially just culture and climate at Waterford. As we succeed in this resolution, we will also simultaneously be creating an environment that will better serve all our graduates, as it provides them with a level of historical and sociological understanding, and a degree of cultural competence that will allow them to thrive—and to make a difference—in our richly diverse and complicated world.

Waterford School stands together with the black community and all people of color. We are committed to social justice, to combating racism, and to the goal of improving ourselves, our nation, and our world through the power of liberal arts education. 

In the weeks and months ahead, stay tuned for opportunities to engage with us in this most important work.

With gratitude for your ongoing support,

 

Andrew Menke
Head of School