ETHS Listening Spaces for Students
November 9, 2023
During the past month, our school community has been shaken by the violence of a global crisis. We have heard from students, parents, staff, and community members who are Palestinian, Israeli, Jewish, Muslim, and Arab. There are people in our community who have loved ones and friends who have been killed, displaced, and taken hostage. We have also heard from the allies of these groups. We have heard the fear, the pain, frustration, anger and the suffering in the words and voices of people who have reached out. We are concerned and deeply saddened about the rise in Islamophobia and antisemitism in our own community. ETHS condemns any acts of hate. Yet some of our students and staff still do not feel seen and do not feel safe.
Many of our Arab, Israeli, Jewish, Muslim, Palestinian and other Middle Eastern colleagues are not okay. While many of our community members are not directly affected by the war in the Middle East through their religious or cultural identities, many of us have become deeply engaged via the justice movements and ideologies that are part of our own identities, and are now allied with different elements of this conflict, and thus are experiencing a heightened sense of agitation, stress, and high emotions. And many among us who do not hold any of these identities but who live in fear of another violent global conflict and violence in our own community are not okay.
We have tried to find the answers and address the recent challenges at ETHS related to what is happening in the Middle East, and we have certainly made mistakes. We all need grace and empathy as we attempt to find our way forward during such a vulnerable time.
ETHS has provided guidance to staff about the impact of global events on the teaching and learning in our school environment. We have provided reminders about the Board policies and guidelines that set important expectations for staff. And we know that we must do more.
Over the years, we have learned that if we expect to have a safe ETHS, an ETHS that loves, learns and grows, one thing we must do is listen. Listening is an act of respect, compassion and it is how we honor humanity. Therefore, our next step is to create different listening spaces at ETHS to hear and understand the pain and possibly the hope that we carry in our school. There will be staff listening spaces and student listening spaces for people who have similar experiences to connect with each other and have meaningful conversations about the dehumanizing narratives that have impacted their group. We also may be able to offer a listening space for parents/guardians as an additional step.
A listening space is intended to:
build community for people who have a shared experience
give focused attention to creating and maintaining positive relationships at ETHS
gather information about community resources
support students and staff who are directly experiencing hate or intimidation
A listening space is not intended to:
solve all the problems or conflicts presented by differing ideologies
solicit support for a “cause” or make assumptions about people with opposing views
retraumatize individuals or groups who have been impacted by the global crisis
prioritize the humanity of one group over another
The superintendent and assistant superintendent will be present in each listening space. This will help identify the needs and asks of each group. We are there to listen, but do not expect to facilitate the dialogue.
Listening Space Dates and Times for ETHS Students
November 27, 2:20pm-4:00pm, room E112: This listening space is intended to support students who have directly experienced Islamaphobia, anti-Muslim and anti-Arab sentiments.
December 4, 2:20-4:00pm, Room E112: This listening space is intended to support students who have directly experienced anti-Semitism or anti-Israeli sentiments.
ETHS has also scheduled listening spaces for staff as outlined above.
Our connections also help us build a community of trust, respect, and collaboration. As the Mayan-inspired poem In Lak’ech says: “I am you; You are me.” In the spirit of In Lak’ech, we cannot foster hope in a crisis while in isolation; we will grow and learn from the listening spaces so that the impacted communities can be heard while navigating such pain.
Please check in on your friends and neighbors and help us identify ways that we can work together to support greater understanding of each other. We encourage you to make opportunities to connect with them, especially across boundaries of difference, and to whittle away at the isolation that fear and hurt and anger and sadness and pain can drive. We encourage you to seek help for yourself and your loved ones when you need it. We encourage you to be thoughtful, articulate, curious, and humble in learning about the conflict and your own views of right and wrong. And we encourage you to find glimmers of hope amidst the terribleness that exists abroad and near home.
Marcus Campbell, EdD
Taya Kinzie, EdD, LCSW
Assistant Superintendent & Principal