Editor’s Note: The following letter was submitted to The Sun by Mantua Township School District Superintendent Robert Fisicaro.
Dear Mantua Township Community,
When we began the school year, this evening of June 4, was supposed to be our Big Night Out: A Celebration of Community, Character, and Connection. Instead, our nation is not only facing a severe pandemic that has interrupted our school year, but we are now severely fractured from the consequences of racism, which has been the disease that has historically plagued our country. Our current reality is a reminder of how the best plans often do not survive a collision with reality. However, each change of plans offers a new opportunity to reflect, learn, grow, re-connect and start again as human beings.
The events and circumstances surrounding George Floyd’s death are among the most disturbing that I have viewed on television. One man’s life was taken by another man, while other men who could have taken action to change the events passively stood by and chose not to take action. Furthermore, the violence and destruction that has followed are heartbreaking, and on a day when we were supposed to be celebrating community and connection, the nation is in a state of turbulence.
It’s essential to recognize that we may not always have all of the solutions in times of crisis, but identifying things that we do know can be a helpful step in the right direction. Therefore, I would like to offer the following sentiments to contribute to the solution that we are searching for as not only a community but as a national crisis unfolds before us.
- Not all people experience the same world in the same way. Racism is evil, it’s real, and that reality needs to be confronted by all of us in a serious way.
- Many among our community are angry, they are hurting, and understandably so. Standing among them or beside them with empathy and compassion is the only right choice. Although we have never actually walked in another person’s shoes, the final moments of George Floyd’s life is something that we should all experience as a most severe injustice.
- Staying silent on this issue is not an option. Desperate times call for drastic measures. The Mantua Township School District will not tolerate any form of racism or bigotry, whether explicit or implicit.
- As educators, we consider it our responsibility to ensure that all students and staff members feel safe, valued, and accepted in our school community. No one should feel afraid, threatened, or somehow inferior because of their skin color, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or any other reason.
During the summer months, the district will not only be planning for the complex challenge to re-open schools in the fall, but also for increased amounts of professional development for staff in the areas of cultural sensitivity and awareness. Furthermore, we need to recognize that our students represent our greatest hope in this country that will ensure the fair treatment of all people. Additional classroom lessons will be developed to educate and inspire our most valuable resource, our students, as a way to continue to prepare them to change the world for the better. Our nation is in pain and needs to heal and learn from what it is experiencing. The Mantua Township School District will be sure to play an active role in this critical process when school resumes. In the meantime, for parents who want to discuss race with their children, below are several recommended resources online, including one just launched by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Please stay safe and healthy during this difficult time, and despite not be able to celebrate with you this evening as planned, I rest in knowing that the core values that we have in our community and our homes are already helping to prepare the world for a better tomorrow.
Robert J. Fisicaro, Ed. D.