Out of Office: Retreats, Delights, Conversations

out of office

Out of Office is a series from Head of School Kim Samson that highlights/focuses on time spent outside of her office: in the BVR hallways, classrooms, stages, fields, and beyond.

Middle School Social Justice Retreat
This was my first year attending the Hiatt Center’s annual MS Social Justice Retreat in person (it was virtual last year because of COVID), and I was impressed by how many students volunteered to join in the day! We started by listening to the stories and music of local indigenous performers, Nettukkusqk Singers. They reminded us that their stories of perseverance through struggle were meant to be celebrated and remembered—with a commitment to the future rather than feelings of guilt for the past. Local artist Bren Bataclan showed us how he uses his paintings to share the effects of climate change on the Filipino people; Beaver alum Ajani Otieno-Rudek ’16, who now teaches 1st grade in Brooklyn, returned for this day and used an engaging hands-on activity (we taught him well!) to help students understand food insecurity. Seeing our youngest students think about the complex problems of our world and avenues for change is heartening.

US Winter Play: The Play of Delights
I was excited to attend the Upper School Winter Play, The Play of Delights, on opening night. The play was aptly named and made all of us laugh. I love our winter tradition of giving students opportunities to put on stage what they’ve written. Several of the vignette—all true stories—displayed Beaver students’ ability to observe life with creativity, humor, and pure joy.

Critical Conversations: Van Jones
I joined a national reflective discussion hosted by New Roads as part of the Critical Conversations collaboration Beaver joined this year. The reflective discussion was scheduled to follow an inspiring talk by Van Jones given last week. Van shared his story of growing up in Tennessee, attending the University of Tennessee and Yale Law School, and teaching at Princeton and MIT. In his words, he got to experience the best of public and private education in this country. Van focused his remarks on finding hope in the next generation, making sure every child feels connected to at least one or two adults in our schools, the importance of finding common ground in our humanity, and that the United States can be both a country of opportunity and a country with embedded inequities we need to address. Having the opportunity to process his remarks with educators and parents in many parts of the country was amazing. I’m thankful to New Roads for starting the Critical Conversations collaboration and I look forward to the next one. I hope many of you will join as well!

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