Listening & Reflecting

To begin our learning, we realized that to enter responsibly into the conversation, we had to enter with humility and respect. We acted by creating forums to hear, listen and to center our community's Black voices of both past and present. Through a series of town halls, Black students, parents, faculty, and alumni bravely showed up to tell their stories and truths. These testimonies, as difficult and wrenching as they were both to share and to hear, gave language and voice to the emotions and experiences of our Black families.

We also listened to the stories of the Black@PDS Instagram posts, which helped the larger PDS community better understand the ways in which we’ve not seen, heard, and valued our Black students.

“If you wonder what life is like for our Black students, read the accounts there. Think of the ways in which our community’s failure to give voice to these students has compelled them to give voice to their own stories. There are powerful lessons here, all of which we must heed and each of which we ignore at our own peril.”

- Paul Stellato, June 2020

Through these acts of listening, we, like many institutions, have arrived at a reckoning and are reflecting, “Who were we? Who are we? Who will we become?”

We’ve committed to engaging in the Work of anti-racism through critical reflection. By examining not just our institution, but ourselves individually, we are reflecting on our own identities and our roles within a larger system and school culture. In the same way we ask our students to reflect on their learning, we ask ourselves, “What are my principles? What beliefs and behaviors have contributed to this system? What don’t I understand? What are my misconceptions and what do I need to unlearn? How can I hold myself accountable, so that I can grow?”

We understand that this process of reflection is on-going, uncomfortable and challenging. We also understand that Self-reflection requires time, collaboration and vulnerability. The first step is becoming aware and present not just in mind and intellect, but also in heart, spirit and body, historical Self and present Self. Through this Self-reflection, we are learning to name not only our biases, both implicit and explicit, but also to surface our own habits and perceptions of reality.