Commitment to Solidarity

Beloved Community,

Heartwood Montessori School is a place-based institution; since our inception we have been intentionally committed to being present in and serving the Northeast Minneapolis community.

On Monday evening this week George Floyd died as a result of violent action and inaction by Minneapolis Police officers.  Mr. Floyd was part of our extended Northeast community and Heartwood wholeheartedly condemns both the action and inaction that resulted in his tragic death.

While cell phone footage in recent years has increased mainstream media’s exposure to authoritarian violence against people of the Global Majority / people of color in our country, state, and city, we acknowledge that our nation’s history is founded on practices of racial injustice and discrimination.  As an educational institution, we are in a position of power to perpetuate or dismantle these systems of prejudice and discrimination.   Inaction – like that of the bystanding officers Monday evening in Minneapolis – will perpetuate such systems.  We must act intentionally toward dismantling the myths that uphold the imbalance of power and perpetuate systems of injustice in our community and world.

At our latest Strategic Planning meeting in March, Heartwood’s Board of Directors revisited and refined our mission and vision statements to read:

Heartwood Montessori School grows community by empowering children through respect, independence, and discovery.

Nurturing the child is the hope for humankind.

We commit to engage in Anti-Bias, Anti-Racist work within ourselves as educators and to practice this work in our school community and beyond.

This is hard work, and it comes knocking on our door at a time when many of us already feel worn down and over-extended. If you find yourself – as I do – able to wake up and walk into the world with the choice to engage in this work: acknowledge your privilege.

To join us in this work, we invite you to engage your children in conversations about race and racial injustice.  A Montessori colleague, Ben Moudry, wrote the following message to his school community:

I know it is hard to have these conversations and it is critical that we have them, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us. 

When we talk to our children about this incident, remember:

  • Ask them what they know 
  • Ask them how they feel about it or what they think about it
  • Ask them what they want to do about it 
  • Spend more time listening than talking
  • Use the same level and amount of words that they use with you

The following articles may be helpful to you as you prepare for these conversations:
“Don’t Say Nothing” by Jamilah Pitts

“How to talk to kids about racism: an age-by-age guide” by Alex Mlynek

For more information on addressing the particular events of police violence against Black and Brown people, Lara has recommended the book Something Happened in Our TownThis book includes a guide for follow-up conversations between parents, caregivers, and children.

During these scary times, our commitment to the health and safety of your children remains our top priority.  While we endeavor to act toward a more nurturing, respectful, and empowered community, we commit ourselves to following best practices for social distancing, hygiene, and sanitation. Our staff will not physically attend any large gatherings.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions for how we can continue to show solidarity to our grieving and fearful community during this time.

Establishing lasting peace is the work of education.” – Maria Montessori