Beyond the peace table: Statement on racial justice and Montesssori
Statement by MMS Director Jennifer Carriger
June 2, 2020
It has been a momentous year at our school. We opened our doors to a record 142 children last fall, and what followed were several wonderful months of growth, discovery and creativity. When we were forced to close our buildings in March, the learning continued remotely thanks to the grace, resiliency and commitment of our entire school community. While extremely challenging, these past weeks have been our finest hour in many ways.
As we wind down the year with much-deserved celebrations, we must also look around and understand that we are part of a larger community. Around us, we see injustice, conflict and division.
“We shall walk together on this path of life, for all things are part of the universe, and are connected with each other to form one whole unity,” said Maria Montessori.
At MMS, we are connected to each other, to our community and to our fellow men and women everywhere. Our school is built upon a deep respect for the individual dignity of every person and an understanding that our connections as humans are indivisible.
As Montessorians, we have the power to create a better and more just world through the child. That starts with ensuring that all members of our own school feel valued, respected and safe. We are currently in discussions with outside organizations with deep experience and expertise in anti-bias/anti-bullying education to build upon our peace curriculum to address equity, inclusion and justice. Watch for updates in the new school year.
In the meantime, we will be sharing resources to help our families. Your children, even the youngest, may be exposed to the news, and may be asking some big questions right now, or you may feel it is time to start or continue conversations about race in your home. It is my hope that whatever age your child is, you will find a way to have these important conversations. In an effort to support your conversations, and to help children realize their ability to contribute to the creation of a more just society through understanding, empathy, connection and love, I’d like to offer the following resources.
Dr. Montessori so wisely understood that, “Establishing lasting peace is the work of education: all politics can do is keep us out of war”.
Let us redouble our commitment to ensuring that all members of our community–and all people everywhere– feel valued, respected, and safe.
Yours in peace,
Families are invited to make car signs/decorations celebrating peace, unity and love for the end of year parade on Friday, June 4, from 11:30 a.m.to 1:00 p.m. Please make a sign of unity, kindness and peace and share the love.
June 1, 2020
Dear Fellow Montessorians,
The protests across the globe this week following the murder of George Floyd are an urgent reminder that we must constantly examine how racism shapes our institutions and identify ways to dismantle and disrupt racism. This includes our Montessori schools and teacher education programs.
As the first Black Muslim president of the AMS Board of Directors, I am encouraged by our organization’s strategic priority of Inclusion and Equity, which I believe to be our most important one.
AMS recognizes that institutional change is required to make an impact in the larger Montessori community. Ensuring environments where everyone feels welcomed, valued, and respected is our most important charge as a membership organization. Serving as the largest Montessori membership organization does not exclude us from the institutional racism that is pervasive in associations, schools, and training programs throughout the United States. As the saying goes, “None of us is free until all of us are free.”
Now is the time for us to be intentionally anti-racist, and to denounce and call out injustices that are occurring right before our eyes—injustices that impact the students, parents, staff members, and schools within our community, and in some cases determine whether they live or die. It’s time to stand for, and with, justice.
As we work toward creating a system that evaluates processes and programming and makes decisions based upon the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion, we hope that you continue to engage with us as our organization strives to be anti-racist. Sometimes we take steps forward, and, sadly, sometimes we take steps backward. But in this moment, we say:
Black lives matter.
Black imagination matters.
Black creativity matters
Black potential matters.
Black educators matter.
Black children matter.
Black people matter.
Black lives matter.
Look to AMS in the coming weeks as we share more resources for teaching children about racism on our website and social media channels. In the meantime, please be well, be safe, be loud, and be anti-racist.
President, AMS Board of Directors