There are no words that adequately articulate my hurt and outrage over the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent unrest in our nation. Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident nor is it new. Mr. Floyd’s murder and what happens to countless black men and women every day is heartbreaking and horrific, and those responsible should be held accountable. I have received many emails this week from NDA alums expressing their legitimate concerns about what Notre Dame Academy is doing to stand up for justice and peace and to teach our students to be not only confident and compassionate leaders, but also anti-racist leaders.
Myself and our new administrative leadership team are committed to making change, to becoming a more inclusive and diverse institution, and to bringing attention to racial disparity and hate throughout our country and throughout the world. We acknowledge that diversity and inclusiveness starts with our faculty and staff and Board of Trustees. We have recently hired several talented and mission-driven new employees to join the team this fall. In the interest of transparency, our applicant pool has not been diverse, but we are committed to actively recruiting men and women of color moving forward. We feel strongly that when a school prioritizes diversity and strives to create authentic cultural change, the quality of both teaching and learning improves. This will impact NDA’s school culture as well as classroom and hallway interactions.
We had already planned to dedicate professional development in the upcoming school year to topics surrounding culturally-responsive teaching. We are requiring all of our faculty to read and engage in self-reflective dialogue about White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, and our new Social Justice through Young Adult Literature class being offered this Fall will also include a number of relevant books as part of the curriculum. We will also continue to provide an anti-racist curriculum and teach our students about the history of racism in the United States. In addition, we will be adding more co-curricular offerings centered on diversity and global citizenship.
NDA is gathering a Task Force including local members of our community as well as committed, passionate friends of NDA to ensure that we are taking the correct and necessary steps towards creating a more inclusive and diverse school community. With insight from that group, NDA will be making a monetary donation to this cause and will be sharing the name of that organization soon so that the NDA community can do the same if they so choose. We will continue to embrace the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur Hallmarks, specifically Hallmark Five, “We Embrace the Gift of Diversity,” and will do so in more tangible ways.
Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” It is our duty as educators to arm our young women with the tools to make change in the world, and that change starts on our campus and in our classrooms. We will use our voices and our privilege to demand justice and equality in the treatment of and respect for all persons. Racism, bigotry, hate, violence, and oppression have no place in the world, and certainly not in the Notre Dame Academy community.
Black Lives Matter. We vow as an organization to do better.
With my prayers for hope and peace,
Lisa Mancini '88 P'18
Head of School
Notre Dame Academy