My View From The Hilltop – Bonnie Walker

By Bonnie Walker, Director of Equity and Inclusion

Bonnie Walker

“Achieve the Honorable.” This is Worcester Academy’s Motto.  I’m sure it means different things to different people, based on our different notions of tradition, as well as our diverse lenses to the world. This said, at the core, “achieving the honorable,” shows up in our community in the action of individuals caring for one another in meaningful ways and going the extra mile to make a difference. It’s been incredible to see this play out in our School community, in the most challenging of times. Right now we are living in a global pandemic and facing a number of challenges tied to it, while also navigating many other heightened national and global crises, including social-political unrest and division across our Nation, ongoing racism and xenophobia, social injustice, economic insecurity, and health and food insecurity. Most of us are feeling the stretch and the stress, personally and professionally, in similar and different ways, and harboring fear and anxiety about the present and about what is to come in the future. At the same time, our faculty and staff are supporting hyflex learning and a hybrid class schedule, while students adjust and adapt to it, and our Middle School opened this fall with four day in-person learning, a challenge that most schools have not been able to support.  Teachers in schools across the nation did not sign-up to be frontline workers in the face of COVID-19, including our faculty, but they are doing it with as much grace as is humanly possible, keeping our students well-being (academically, socially, and emotionally) top-of-mind at every twist and turn, as we venture through the unknown, making the best of it.  This is “achieving the honorable.”

When a crisis hits, like the COVID-19 pandemic, schools face both immediate challenges and opportunity.  The pandemic prompted WA, like many other schools, to shift from in-person to distance-learning, and now in hyflex and hybrid learning. We continue to monitor and focus on the wellness of our faculty and staff, first; prioritizing physical and mental health, continuous training for faculty to use state-of-the art technology tools, securing virtual resources, providing learning and development training, keeping students engaged through a comprehensive learning program, and prioritizing and sustaining faculty and staff jobs. During crises, we often have an insular vision to address the immediate and urgent needs of multiple stakeholders, with limited resources and extreme uncertainties, but we cannot do this organizationally, without knowing who we are, and therefore, what our community culture will support. Worcester Academy has developed a people-centric work-and-learning culture, focused on collaboration and commitment to community, and it has served the institution well during this pandemic. We are our Motto,  a community committed to one another, “achieving the honorable.” 

As the late John Lewis once said, “We may not have chosen the time, but the time has chosen us.” What will we do with what is? What will we learn from it? We have a strategic plan to guide us forward, a new Head of School, and many, many committed and engaged partners who want to bring all of our potential to fruition! We are in a time of transformation and if we take the reins and lean into all of the positive possibilities, we will become our best self—our best School community.  We will lean further into inclusive excellence, put antiracism to practice and action, in policy and structures, and we will flourish for it for many years to come, building from our base—our core values that guide us to “Achieve the Honorable.” 

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