Diverse Communities Benefit Student Learning, Workplace Culture, and Business Success: A Message from Donna Orem and a List of Resources about Charlottesville

Dear School Leaders,
The white supremacist rally in Charlottesville was a shocking display of violence and vitriol. While people from all backgrounds were left reeling, for African Americans and many other people of color, Jews and Muslims, and others whose identities are marginalized, it was a public manifestation and tragic recasting of the discrimination they experience regularly.
As our students and faculty return from summer break, we must speak out unequivocally against racism and white supremacy. We must provide support and comfort to our community members who are living in the shadow of discrimination and those working daily to combat it. But we must also commit to something much larger. We must step into the incipient leadership voids with courage and thoughtfulness rooted in our core values, driven by our missions, and inspired by an educational vision that contributes to repairing and improving our society. 
Many of you work in schools that are deeply divided at this moment. You might find that you walk a fine line discussing any issue that could be construed as political. But rejecting hatred and bigotry is something that almost everyone supports; it is not a partisan claim. Our mission-driven schools are focused on preparing children to navigate the world. We can help reinforce the positive values that transcend partisan differences and polarized perspectives to develop strong and compassionate individuals and communities. We can appeal to the deeper human instinct to improve ourselves and our surroundings.
We must also redouble our efforts to build and sustain diverse and inclusive schools. We know that diverse communities benefit student learning, workplace culture, and business success. We must demonstrate our values by planning strategically, not only to increase diversity but also to lead for equity and inclusion. We must cultivate greater empathy within our communities and evaluate our work, always seeking to improve.
Below we have compiled a number of resources to help you teach about the events in Charlottesville and support students who may be struggling in the aftermath. We’ve also included resources to help you and your colleagues enhance leadership and professional skills and practices for more diverse, equitable, and inclusive communities.
In times such as these, our uncertainty and fear can become paralyzing. But we must not succumb to fear. This work is an extension of that which we do every day: making the world a better place for all. We must stand strong and strive to fulfill our schools’ missions. And we must extend a hand to support one another and the larger community in this time of need. It is both a great responsibility and a gift to serve in this capacity for our schools and for society at large.

Donna Orem
National Association of Independent Schools

Post-Charlottesville Resource List

What follows is a sampling of resources designed to help educators and families address issues related to the events in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Resources for Addressing Crises, Tragedies, Major News Events
Curriculum Resources (in the wake of Charlottesville)
Resources for Teaching Positive Racial Attitudes and Identity  
Resources for Schools/Professional and Leadership Development The NAIS People of Color Conference and Student Diversity Leadership Conference