Message from Chad Leith: December 16, 2019

Dear Members of the Morse School Community,

It has been an intense and emotional week since last Tuesday’s School Committee meeting, where students, parents, and teachers spoke in stark terms about the persistent effects of racism in the Cambridge Public Schools. The pain and anger that were expressed on Tuesday - and at subsequent student forums that took place last week at CRLS - echo the feelings and perspectives that were made public in October through the Building Equity Bridges Project, which analyzed existing data and engaged more than 200 CPS youth, families, and educators in a 12-month process that ultimately identified several barriers to racial equity in our schools.

As a lifelong Cambridge resident, a CPS parent, and the principal of one of our city’s most diverse elementary schools, I am saddened and frustrated with the fact that we haven’t made more progress. The fact that many of the high schoolers who spoke at last week’s School Committee meeting were former Morse School students has also led me to reflect upon the urgent need to understand the racial climate in our school and address any equity barriers that exist. There will be several opportunities for you to lend your voice and perspective to this process. I will open the floor at my Principal’s Coffee on Friday to discuss ways of doing better. You are also invited to join the next meeting of the Morse Race & Equity Working Group on January 16th (5:30 - 7PM), where we will discuss ideas for collecting the voices and experiences of current and former Morse School students. Of course, if your schedule does not permit you to visit the school personally, you may always reach out to me directly with your suggestions.

Over the coming weeks, I also hope to share a more comprehensive Equity Plan for our school. It is very important to me that we reaffirm our commitment to racial equity and work together to identify concrete steps that we can take in 2020 to ensure that all members of our community feel welcome, respected, and successful in our school.

Principal’s Coffee - Friday (8:15 - 9:10AM)
Please join me for a Principal’s Coffee this Friday morning from 8:15 to 9AM in the library (originally scheduled for Thursday but changed to Friday to avoid a conflict with the Computer Science Club). As mentioned above, I would like to set aside some time and space for individuals to share their thoughts and reactions to recent events at the district level, as well as your ideas about moving our equity work forward at the Morse School. However, I welcome any other questions, concerns, or suggestions. We’ll have coffee, hot cider, and some baked treats to share. If you are able, please consider stopping by, even if just for a few minutes!

Vacation Reading
Reading is one of the most important daily routines for helping our children build their skills and develop an awareness of the world around them. This year, our winter break will be longer than usual. To avoid running out of engaging reading material, please consider asking our librarian Ms. Pennell for her recommendations. She opens the More School Library for students and parents every morning at 8AM. Your local Cambridge Public Library will also be open throughout the holiday break. As always, for older students, I recommend taking a look at the wonderful books that have been nominated for this year’s Massachusetts Children’s Book Award.

If our paths do not cross this week, I wish you and your family all the best for a wonderful and peaceful winter break. I look forward to welcoming you back on Thursday, January 2nd!

Sincerely,

Chad Leith
Principal
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