“I love this country. I consider myself American even though America doesn’t consider me that.” This is one of the many powerful quotes from a subject in the immigration documentary, Waking Dream.
The Spanish Committee of the San Francisco Friends School Parents Association hosted our first event on the evening of Friday, January 31, in the Black Box Theater at Friends. Waking Dream follows multiple college and graduate students around the nation fighting for their education in the midst of uncertainty under the DACA program. The majority of young adults in DACA were brought to the USA at a young age, and their futures currently hang in the balance—with the current political climate, DACA’s existence will be decided by the Supreme Court in the coming months. If these students are returned to their countries of origin, they will not be returning home, but to the places of their birth.
In showing this film, the PA Committee's purpose was to bring awareness to a topic so dear to the heart of many immigrants; something that we don’t talk much about is the fact that a change in DACA status would affect many members of the SFFS community.
At the end of the screening, we held a panel discussion. The guests on the panel were DACA students; parents of DACA students; and Theo Rigby P'27, the creator of the documentary and also a parent here at Friends. Some questions that were lifted up by the audience were:
- How can the community of parents at Friends support these families?
- Can we share this video with students at Friends and talk about this topic with them?
- How can we make space for more of these conversations at Friends?
This was a really powerful evening. The Spanish PA hopes to host more events like these, and we hope to see more of our community join us as we continue this important conversation and begin others.
The SFFS Equity and Inclusion Committee (E&I Committee) is a parent led committee comprised of members from various constituencies of the school community. The group meets monthly and provides input and feedback on a variety of initiatives intended to enhance our school's equity and inclusion efforts, with particular focus on parent education.
At the Table (ATT), a sub-committee of E&I, hosts a handful of Thursday morning parent ed events throughout the year. Over coffee, ATT aims to provide opportunities for parents to discuss how we talk to our children about topics that may be challenging to discuss. The hope is to have a chance for parents to connect to both build and sustain a school community that is inclusive, safe, and nurturing for all.
On February 1st, ATT had a parent gathering facilitated by parents Andrea Hartsough and SFFS Mental Health Specialist Katherine Preston to ponder the question of how we talk to our kids about race. Guest teachers Robelene Novero (fourth grade lead teacher) and Jasmine Redmond (middle school teaching assistant) shared about some of their recent classwork that turned a critical lens towards race and racial bias.
In the fourth grade classroom, Robelene shared the most successful conversations about race. These came about organically, initiated by the students themselves and fueled by their genuine curiosity. At this age, noticing differences between yourself and your peers is natural and developmentally appropriate. These differences are something to be celebrated, Robelene insists.
To steer such young students towards healthy and positive identity development, everyone is encouraged to look within themselves and consider: “What makes us look at the world through a different lens?” To support this introspection, Robelene stocks a diverse bookshelf that features perspectives from around the world. Particularly popular this year is The Hijab Boutique by Michelle Khan.
Jasmine recently held a guest lesson in eighth grade humanities that asked students a complex, potentially discomforting question: Can African-Americans appropriate African culture? Further, how do we recognize instances of cultural appropriation? What differentiates appropriation from appreciation? Students explored cultural symbolism within the novel This Side of Home, paying particularly close attention to the image of the Sankofa, a Ghanian bird representing the idea of return.
Parents shared many thoughts and strategies for speaking with our kids about race. What follows is some wisdom that was shared:
- If conversation with your child doesn’t go the way you had hoped, other opportunities will come up. When a parent wants to have a talk with their child, it is often more effective to ask a guiding question, rather than attempting to inform them of something.
- Engaging a child in what they notice or observe may actually open space for a conversation. With your guidance, students learn that conversations about race do not need to be burdensome or scary - it can be a discovery of who they are and what makes them special.
- We try not to create a sense of fear; we have fun with conversations about race. Students don’t need to have the same ties to conversations about race that we do, especially the negative connotations.
Our next ATT will be Thursday, March 8th, from 8:30-9:30am in the Meeting Room, facilitated by SFFS parent Andrea Hartsough and SFFS Mental Health Specialist Katherine Preston, LMFT. We will be facilitating a follow up to the February 1st conversation. We welcome newcomers, so please join us!
Hate speech, intolerance, and discrimination—the conflicts that are dividing our country are also affecting our children and how they’re making sense of the contemporary world. But not necessarily in the ways we might think.
What are they learning and talking about in school? And where do we, as parents, begin a thoughtful, age-appropriate conversation?
On Thursday, March 15 at 6 pm, expert childhood educator and parent coach Mechele Pruitt, Director of San Francisco Parents Place, will lead us in a hands-on workshop entitled “Remaining Empathic in Turbulent Times: How to Talk to Your Child about Difficult Topics.” This workshop is designed to help parents get the tools they need to understand what’s going on in their kids’ lives and start conversations with them about it.
Join Mechele, SFFS staff and other SFFS parents who will help us maintain our values and hopes—and our basic kindness—at a time when doing so can be especially hard.
In this workshop, parents will learn:
· How children think and respond to information they hear from the world around them and how to best support them
· What kids and their teachers are talking about in school
· Practical guides to start conversations with kids
· How to maintain our values and our hopes when our values may not be supported
The event will include SFFS teachers and staff talking about how they and their students discuss current politics, and the event will include a look at written statements from students about what they want to talk about with their parents. There will also be Q&A, and an opportunity to submit questions online in advance.
The event will be held from 6-7:30 pm and include light refreshments. RSVP is strongly encouraged, but not required. Please RSVP here.
Please note: This is an adults-only program. Childcare will be provided but you must RSVP in the above link for childcare by March 9.
I didn't grow up going to church, synagogue, or a traditional place of worship. My brother and I "swore to Mother Nature" when it was really a serious truth instead of swearing to God, and our place of worship was the American river canyon or the open granite of Desolation Wilderness. These places did and do fill my soul's longing for that awesome perspective of being part of something bigger, but my moments in them don’t always come with the rooted-in-community part of worship that I imagine is a huge part of many peoples’ experience with religious traditions.
Going to the SF Friends Meeting (not to be confused with the SFFS Meeting for Worship) has given me the chance to spend a Sunday both to re-ground myself and to feel that I am part of something big and rich. I realize now that I have been subconsciously seeking this during the often breakneck pace of my family’s complex and urban life.
The commitment to social justice and the process of grappling with messiness are a part of our school’s Quaker DNA, and I loved getting more of a window into that at the Friends Meeting.
Part of why I love SFFS so much is because every time I walk into the school, I feel a sense of rootedness and community, and unexpectedly, I really appreciate how tied this sense feels to a deeper tradition of spirituality and worship. Visiting the San Francisco Meeting for the shared January Meeting for Worship for the last two years has both scratched the chance-to-worship itch I didn't know I had, and also helped me to understand how SFFS grows forth from the deep roots and values of the Religious Society of Friends.
We first attended the San Francisco Meeting and pancake breakfast two years ago. I remember that everyone was wonderfully accommodating and friendly during our kids’ not-so-quiet participation in the first 15 minutes of group Meeting for Worship. Then the kids went upstairs while we enjoyed another (much calmer) spell of time for reflection and insights together with the remaining grown-ups. This was an unexpected delight on a Sunday morning to be able to sit next to my partner in silence and reflect. Again, not having grown up with any formal religious traditions, I had a light-bulb moment about why parents love Sunday school! When the kids returned to join our group the first year we attended, they brought with them colored candle holders they had made to represent each of their inner lights, and the boldest of them shared something about their individual inner light with the group.
Last year, our January Meeting together was the day after the Women's March—a great time to sit in silence and reflection together with a group of people who count a commitment to social justice as a core part of their beings. This time, when our kids came back they came with postcards they had written to their elected representatives about changes they would like to see to improve their communities and the current political and social discourse. I remember Doug (my partner) commenting on “this definitely being San Francisco” with an appreciation of the great delta between his experience in Sunday school on the Upper East Side (and some resulting *slight* discomfort at the idea of his 6 year-old writing a protest letter the day after joining a protest march). His discomfort came with a hearty willingness to embrace this new experience (one of the many reasons I love him). And I remember thinking this isn’t just a San Francisco thing, this is a Quaker thing.
When a teacher friend of mine recently roamed our school’s hallways, he said he couldn’t believe the level and depth of engagement that Friends students have regarding social justice issues. It struck him that our teachers and students were not only raising, but really grappling with, the messiness and complexity of issues that faculty at his school wouldn't feel comfortable discussing. And as a teacher, he was jealous of this real discourse. Because we all as community members are living through this hard stuff together, to me, it seems weird not to talk about it. The commitment to social justice and the process of grappling with messiness are a part of our school’s Quaker DNA, and I loved getting more of a window into that at the Friends Meeting.
Each time I go to a Friends Meeting, I am reminded of how grateful I am for the tenets, values, and spiritual compass that guide our kids’ education—and the deep roots that tie us to a broader history and community. I treasure these minutes of communal reflection and seeking each year, for myself and for my family.
And there are great pancakes!
This year's San Francisco Friends Meeting and pancake breakfast will be held from 11am-1pm on Sunday, January 28 at 65 9th St in downtown San Francisco.
"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid." ~Albert Einstein
On the evening of Tuesday, December 5th, SFFS parents will have a unique opportunity to participate in a free "Experience Dyslexia" workshop. Developed by the International Dyslexia Association, Northern California (IDA Nor Cal), this 90-minute interactive workshop simulates the challenges of reading, writing and listening comprehension that can accompany dyslexia.
Parents who have done the simulation say it was a helpful experience to get them back in touch with what it's like to learn something new, and how hard it can be! So if your child has a learning difference, or just struggles with learning something new on occasion, this is a wonderful opportunity for parents to both challenge their brains and have an experience that could help deepen their understanding of their child's learning experience.
This workshop may be especially of interest to parents of kindergartners, first and second graders as it is often during these years that learning differences, including dyslexia, are discovered.
Frances Dickson, SFFS Developmental Support Coordinator and Learning Special for grades K-4, as well as Mitch Neuger, SFFS Learning Specialist for grades 5-8, helped develop the most recently revised workshop for the IDA Northern California. We encourage you to check out this video from the IDA Nor Cal (featuring Frances!) to get a first hand look at what parents say about the workshop and to learn more.
The Learning Support Alliance (a PA Committee) and the SFFS Developmental Support Department are excited to bring this opportunity to you and we hope you will join us on December 5, from 6-8pm in Room 234 for this exciting opportunity of the "Experience Dyslexia" simulation workshop.
Unfortunately, we can only accommodate 30 people, so please reserve your spot on the parent wiki soon. This event is only for adults; free childcare will be provided for SFFS students.
This month, the SFFS Service Committee joins forces with Project Night Night to support youth experiencing homelessness and their families, one book, blanket and stuffy at a time.
According to their website, “Project Night Night donates over 25,000 Night Night Packages each year to homeless children 12 and under who need our childhood essentials to have a concrete and predictable source of security and an increased exposure to high-quality literacy materials during their time of upheaval.”
You can support this impactful initiative in a few simple ways. Starting Monday, Nov 13th, Friends School will place a donations box at reception that will accept new books, blankets and stuffies. Families can also pick up entire tote bags from reception to custom-fill with books, blankets and stuffies of their choice, to return to school for drop-off throughout the month. The drive culminates December 2nd at the Craft Fair, where a table will be set up for a final round of design and drop-offs, after which all totes will be delivered to Project Night Night for distribution. Please note, all items must be new.
These items, placed in Project Night Night totes, address directly, and in a loving way, the anxiety, depression, poor sleep habits and behavioral issues experienced by families experiencing homelessness. They are also cherished opportunities for children to bond, through reading, with equally stressed parents, family members or caregivers who are also navigating these difficult paths.
SFFS parent Jennifer Maeder, a mother of two at Friends School and a Mother/Baby Nurse and Lactation Consultant at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, has been supporting Project Night Night independently for a while now.
“Project Night Night has been a simple, straightforward way my kids can connect with other SF kids,” says Maeder Jennifer, who serves as co-clerk of the Service Committee at Friends. “As we’ve participated over the years, my children have been able to see and touch the books, blankets and stuffies, and know they are going straight into the hands of a kid probably just about their age.”
Maeder added that her children’s added personal touches, “Notes and the things they say – like ‘you matter’ and ‘you are loved’ – really show that they are thinking of these kids and wish the best for them.”
“I’m excited to see our school community support Project Night Night,” said Guybe Slangen, Director of Community Engagement at Friends. “It builds upon the good work that students and classes are also doing to support those experiencing homelessness here in our city.”
To learn more about Project Night Night, visit ProjectNightNight.org.
(Para español, mire más abajo)
As many of us seek light and hope in these challenging times, let us remember that our school is founded on Quaker values of integrity, community, and equality. SFFS and its community are committed to openness and respect for every member of our community regardless of race, creed, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, and, just as important — place of national origin. In the spirit of these values and beliefs, our Head of School, Mike Hanas, recently signed a letter to President Trump, along with other Friends Council on Education (FCE) leaders. This letter expressed support for DACA and affirmed our support and commitment to Dreamers, as well as all those affected by the events that have been unfolding.
Although times like these may feel sad and dark, we must keep our light brightly shining by staying informed of all options and supporting those who need it the most. Below, please find some useful upcoming events, information, and resources:
- SFFS will host another Immigration and DACA Know Your Rights workshop.
Please keep on reading Circle Back for a date and time.
- Alameda County Immigration Legal & Education Partnership (ACILEP) Community Forum
When: Saturday, September 9, 2017 @ 10 am - 1 PM
Where: St. Elizabeth’s High School
1530 34th Avenue, Oakland, CA
- San Francisco Board of Supervisors Introduce Resolution in Defense of DACA
When: Tuesday Sept. 12th 2pm
Where: 1 Dr Carlton B Goodlett Pl. #250
San Francisco, CA 94102
The links below provide information we hope you or someone you know might find helpful:
- NPR Answers Basic DACA Questions
- Immigrant Legal Resource Center - What is DACA?
- NEA's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Resources
On behalf of SFFS’s Equity & Inclusion Parent Association and Steering Committees, we sincerely hope that these times of uncertainty will unite us and deepen our knowledge and appreciation of each other’s gifts and uniqueness as we foster a sense of belonging. May we continue building our awareness of each other’s distinct strengths and embracing our responsibility as we work towards positive outcomes.
Please feel free to contact us with any feedback, ideas, information, or questions.
With hope and peace,
Un mensaje acerca de DACA de parte del Comite de Equidad e Inclusión
A medida que muchos de nosotros buscamos la luz y esperanza en estos tiempos retantes, recordemos que nuestra escuela está fundada en los valores cuáqueros de integridad, comunidad, e igualdad. SFFS y su comunidad está comprometida a respetar y escuchar a cada miembro de nuestra comunidad, independiente de su raza, creencia, religión, sexo, orientación sexual, identidad de género o expresión de género, y con mayor importancia - su lugar de origen nacional. En el espíritu de estos valores y creencias, nuestro Director de Escuela, Mike Hanas, recientemente firmó una carta para el Presidente Trump expresando su apoyo a DACA (hacer clic aquí para el enlace), afirmando nuestro apoyo y compromiso a los Dreamers y a todos aquellos que han sido afectados por los eventos que hemos estado viviendo.
Aunque en épocas como estas nos podemos sentir tristes y perdidos, debemos mantener nuestra luz brillando con resplandor, manteniendonos informados de todas las opiniones y apoyando a aquellos que lo más necesiten. A continuación, encuentre eventos, información, y recursos que esperamos les sean útiles:
- SFFS patrocinará otro taller de Conozca sus derechos de inmigración y de DACA.
Por favor siga leyendo Circle Back para la fecha y hora.
- Alameda County Immigration Legal & Education Partnership (ACILEP) Community Forum
Cuando: sábado, 9 de septiembre 9, 2017 @ 10AM - 1PM
Dónde: St. Elizabeth’s High School
1530 34th Avenue, Oakland, CA
- San Francisco Board of Supervisors Introduce Resolution in Defense of DACA
Cuándo: martes, 12 de septiembre @ 2PM
Dónde: 1 Dr Carlton B Goodlett Pl. #250
San Francisco, CA 94102
Los siguientes enlaces proveen información en inglés que esperamos sean útiles:
- NPR contesta preguntas básicas acerca de DACA
- Immigrant Legal Resource Center - ¿Qué es DACA?
- Recursos para Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
De parte del grupo de Equidad & Inclusión de la Asociación de Padres y del Comité Directivo de SFFS, esperamos sinceramente que estos tiempos de incertidumbre nos unan y profundicen nuestro conocimiento y apreciación de los dones de cada uno de nosotros mientras fomentamos un sentido de pertenencia. Esperamos que continuemos construyendo nuestra conciencia de las fortalezas particulares de cada uno de nosotros y que aceptemos nuestras responsabilidades a medida que trabajamos juntos hacia un futuro positivo.
Por favor contáctenos con cualquier idea, opinión, informacion, o pregunta.
Con paz y esperanza,