Justice for George Floyd
As part of Twin Cities Academy’s journey as a culturally-responsive and socially-just school, we must center race and the trauma that our students and staff have suffered. March 8 will mark the beginning of the State of Minnesota’s trial for the justice of George Floyd. As the trial against former police officer Derek Chauvin begins, we will watch as it plays itself out in a downtown Minneapolis courtroom, on television and device screens here and across the world. The trial will be an important topic of conversation in our communities, at dinner tables, and in classrooms.
Over these next several weeks each of us will experience the trial both individually and collectively. Staff and students alike will once again be forced to deal with the raw emotions of race and power and systemic inequities highlighted in our own backyard. For some, this will trigger them to relive their own past trauma or that of a loved one or close friend. Some will be forced to wrestle with the notion that a familiar colleague or trusted adult doesn’t understand their pain, denies their lived experience, or holds an opposite point of view. Some will want to talk but be unsure of what to say or how to say it. Some will find emotions surfacing in unexpected ways and at inopportune times. Still others may need to disengage in order to survive. As educators, we have to work to understand student experiences and support them to process and heal from their trauma.
Our school community has been through a lot since Memorial Day 2020. Many in our school community are carrying compounded trauma and are anxious about what’s next. It would be unrealistic to think we can alleviate the stress and anxiety that many have or will experience. We want you to be aware that staff have been provided with a wealth of resources designed to support, inform, and guide difficult conversations. Rather than stopping students from talking about what we are seeing on the news outlets, educators can choose to discuss the trial in their schools or classrooms.
Below are some resources for both staff and family to help guide these conversations:
- Resources to Help Educators and Adults Respond to Racism, Violence and Trauma (MDE)
- How to Talk About Traumatic Events and Tragedies (MDE)
- Helping Youth after Community Trauma: Tips for Educators (NCTSN)
- Helping Children and Adolescents Cope with Disasters and Other Traumatic Events (NIMH)
- What To Say To Kids When The News Is Scary (NPR)
- University of Minnesota Community Resource: Recommendations and Resources for Supporting Students Before, During, and After the Chauvin Trial
How are we supporting our students?
- At school we strive to provide students a safe place to express their opinions and talk through their feelings without fear of judgement. In some cases, teachers may use current events such as this to teach lessons on peaceful conflict resolution, the role of protest in society or creating change in the face of tough societal events.
- Students, their families and our staff have many different perspectives about the circumstances surrounding George Floyd’s death, law enforcement’s response and the community’s response to the situation as a whole.
- Twin Cities Academy respects the First Amendment rights of our students to express themselves while at school.
- We intend to listen to our students and ask open-ended questions so we can better understand their perspectives, always with the developmental age of students in mind.
- Our social workers and guidance counselor, along with other adults, are available to speak with students about the trial as needed.
- Healing Circles led by Mindfulness i Consulting and TCA staff will be held:
- Via Zoom on Wednesday afternoons from 1-2pm for middle school students
- Via Zoom on Wednesday afternoons from 2-3pm for high school students
- Via Google Meets on alternating Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 6pm for students and families starting Wednesday March 10th
- Links for the above circles will be posted on Schoology Advisory pages for students and sent via email to families
We also know that the trial may spark more community activism, such as vigils and protests. Hennepin County and a number of metro area cities are heightening security measures and taking precautions to ensure everyone stays as safe as possible. Should your student(s) participate in community activities, please stay safe.
Over the past year we have been tested in more ways than we could ever have imagined – individually and collectively. The trial coming at the same time as our return to in-person learning will be yet another test. Life teaches us, however, that from the most difficult tests come the most powerful testimonies. At TCA, we believe our testimony will be one of resilience, unity, and support for the collective community.