Moving Forward Together as Brothers
Dear McCallie Community,
The events of recent weeks have given all of us an opportunity to feel a range of powerful emotions and to reflect deeply on our beliefs as individuals and upon our society, including the history and practices that shape us and it. My reflections have included what our mission, motto, and values mean in 2020, and how we faithfully give expression to them in these difficult but important, historic days...days that are often filled with discomfort and even fear.
My reflections on McCallie begin with the strength and blessings of our school. We remain anchored by Christian principles and our Judeo-Christian heritage, both of which call us to love our neighbors as ourselves, to seek and promote justice and peace, to be compassionate and caring, and to treat everyone with dignity, respect, and kindness. It is, I think, because of this foundation that McCallie enjoys such a strong sense of close and trusting community and brotherhood.
Events of recent weeks have made clear that there remains in our country racism that is inconsistent with the Biblical principles upon which McCallie was founded and other moral and legal principles which can and should inspire and guide us in how we lead our lives in our school and society.
We as a school have an opportunity, an obligation really, to help our boys develop the character, skills, mindset, heart, and sense of duty to make a positive difference in the world. They can and will shape and lead it.
We as a school also have an opportunity and obligation to model for our boys what we hope they will do. That includes asking difficult questions, being uncomfortable, facing up to and learning from our shortcomings and mistakes, listening carefully, having courageous conversations, loving and forgiving, and moving forward with purpose and principles. It includes making sure we are conducting ourselves in all ways consistent with our ideals and that all members of our school community are treated with respect, dignity, equity, and compassion.
While McCallie is a loving community with many strengths, by God’s grace we can do even better, and we can build upon our strong foundation to do so in how we love and support individuals from all backgrounds. With this context, I am pleased to announce an initiative we are calling “Moving Forward Together as Brothers.”
Our Moving Forward Together as Brothers initiative is the structure and process by which we as a school will seek to listen, self-reflect, and chart a path forward that is carefully aligned with our mission, ideals, and values. Much of the work will center on race and how we can actively promote justice, respect, and equity. In today's world, it is not enough just to be not racist. We must develop a mindset and posture of anti-racism and an understanding of systemic racism and its impact.
I realize that this work is highly sensitive and difficult. I am also aware that many intricate layers of history, politics, viewpoints, bias, fears, and pain are involved. Just the same, doing this work is the right thing to do and will help McCallie more fully realize our mission of preparing students for their futures as well as more fully live out our Christian principles and Judeo-Christian heritage.
Thank you to all of the Black students, parents, and alumni who shared with us over the last two weeks both what McCallie is doing well in being a safe, welcoming, and responsive community, as well as what we need to address in order to do better. Thank you to the many others who have shared their ideas, passions, and hopes. One of the things that these discussions clarified for me is that the issues of racial literacy, equity, inclusion, and social justice go beyond Black and White. I am resolute in the school’s responsibility to develop and manage our school community so that it is a safe, welcoming, and supportive place for all to live, grow, and learn.
We are fortunate that we have a diverse community, with boys and families from around the world with a multitude of racial, ethnic, religious, socioeconomic, and other backgrounds, identities, and beliefs. Our boys can see and appreciate both similarities and differences and in our close community, they listen to, learn from, and laugh with one another. By intentionally learning and practicing anti-racism and inclusiveness in our school community, our boys will gain knowledge, skills, and experience for their lives beyond the McCallie campus.
McCallie has the opportunity to walk in positive light and to lead courageously on this journey. As the apostle Paul said, “For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” (Ephesians 5:8) In order for McCallie to be a place where everyone has the opportunity to become their best selves, we have to grow beyond our current knowledge and skill levels of racial literacy and multicultural competency. We have to have hearts of love determined to respect the experience and dignity of every person and a willingness to strive for justice and peace in our school community which is a microcosm of the society-at-large.
This work will make us uncomfortable, and I am sure we will make mistakes along the way. I am also sure that leaning into our discomfort and vulnerabilities will make us stronger, more united, and better at preparing our boys to glorify God and to lead themselves and others justly throughout their lives.
This initiative provides an intentional and disciplined approach to developing a school community that:
- more fully reflects our beliefs of glorifying God and our values of Honor, Truth, and Duty;
- is intentionally anti-racist;
- offers a comprehensive learning experience;
- prepares students to thrive and lead in a complex, multi-racial, multi-cultural society.
As Head of School, I will orchestrate and oversee this initiative.
A Steering Committee will be appointed to:
- gather resources
- integrate information and insights from the task forces (see below)
- secure funding
- pace the work of the task forces
- measure progress
- manage overall communication
Task Forces will develop specific recommendations to address the following areas:
Training Faculty and Staff
Recruiting of and Developing Leadership in Diverse Faculty and Staff Members
Supporting Students of Color
Designing Curriculum, Programs, and Student Training
Identifying, Recruiting, and Enrolling Diverse Students
Engaging Constituents and Community Outreach
I am eager for us, in a humble spirit of love and charity, to move forward together in ways that further strengthen the bonds of brotherhood we already enjoy in our community. I invite you to lend ears, hearts, and voices and to link arms on behalf of our boys as we help them grow into men of Honor, Truth, and Duty who will make a positive difference in our world.
On McCallie, and onward McCallie.
Lee Burns '87
Head of School