Nueva is not a place I imagined my career taking me when fantasizing about where I wanted to rekindle my calling to education. But I realized early on, when I used to frequent the campus as a Middle School substitute teacher, how impactful my presence was. While I was internally debating if applying to work at Nueva was the right choice for me, the Black students I had developed relationships with would express how excited they were to see me on campus and how that could simply impact their day. Those conversations pushed me to figure out how I could become a part of this community. While the reality of all the magnificent things that makes Nueva Nueva is obvious, there are still opportunities for us to be better and do more!
The word Sankofa (SANH-koh-fah)—which comes from the Akan tribe in Ghana—translates to, “It is not taboo to fetch what is at risk of being left behind.” As educators, I feel like we play an essential role in the lives of our students, especially in making sure no one feels “left behind.” The importance of instilling antiracism in children from a young age is something that hasn’t been practiced in many educational institutions. While teaching children that bullying is wrong and that celebrating the diversity within our nation is valuable, why isn’t it just as important that we be transparent in really planting an understanding of how racial differences can create negative ideologies? By not proactively and consistently acknowledging these injustices, what are we saying about the value of our Black students, Black faculty and staff, and Black community members?
Educators, doctors, and researchers constantly emphasize the importance of the first five years of a child’s life. We hear jingles about going online to first5California.com and using their resources to create curricula that enrich our kids, but could you imagine how much better things could be if we consistently addressed racism throughout a child’s education, starting from a young age? Instead of finding excuses as to why we need to keep the cruelty of this world veiled, we should brainstorm and actually execute ways to frame conversations and lessons to guide them in a direction that will give them the historical foundation and confidence to speak up against racial injustices. Through these conversations we not only open up a trusted space for children to navigate these really tough topics, but we also have the opportunity to challenge ourselves, and hopefully end the cycle of silence that perpetuates violence. For many, ignoring the injustices of our world is definitely the easier choice, but what about those of us who don’t have the privilege of being able to ignore it?
Nueva is known for paving the way in so many aspects of education, from social-emotional learning to design thinking. Nueva can also be a maverick when it comes to social justice, equity, and inclusion. It is our duty as educators and an institution. That is the Nueva I’m hoping for!