Recently, students at both Briarcliff High School and Middle School had an opportunity to participate in a discussion about racism. The discussion groups, which were well-attended by students and staff and were held for each of the schools separately, were facilitated by Simone Gamble, a chapter leader at the Brotherhood Sister Sol organization.
The sessions began with Ms. Gamble playing a short video of a young boy singing. She then asked the students to respond and talk about how it made them feel and what stood out to them. Afterwards, she led a discussion regarding reasons for the current protests and civil unrest.
“Ms. Gamble expertly guided the conversation, allowing students to explain the issue to each other. They had amazing insights to share,” said Briarcliff Middle School Principal Susan Howard.
Towards the end of the discussion students were asked what they thought they could do to help end racism and promote equality. One student said she learned to educate herself from all perspectives, to listen to others rather than expressing her own thoughts and to process all of it in order to gain greater understanding.
Ms. Gamble helped students find their voices so they felt comfortable sharing, said Ms. Howard. “Their questions and insights were reflective and showed a great deal of empathy and concern for others. Students’ suggestions for change filled me with hope. I really do think our students can change the world, and they are our future,” she added.
Ms. Howard said she hoped to work with Ms. Gamble during the summer to provide teacher training about leading difficult but necessary conversations with students. Briarcliff High School Principal, Debora French agreed.
“There is much work to be done as a school community and country to examine, learn from our past, and create a harmonious and equitable society for all,” Ms. French said. “As educators we are committed to providing a comforting presence, love, and an avenue for respectful communication and expression,” she added.