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Message from the Superintendent

April 5, 2024

Dear Staff and Families,

This year we invited you to join conversations about belonging. The Belonging Series was a new opportunity aimed at cultivating collaborative learning communities with the goal of fostering psychological safety among all of our Falmouth students. Dr. Kalise Wornum, a cultural proficiency consultant, facilitated three impactful sessions bringing together parents, guardians, educators, and community members.

On October 17, Dr. Wornum guided participants through a discussion centered on addressing racial microaggressions. Hearing directly from students illuminated the impact of these incidents, sparking necessary and sometimes challenging conversations on how best to address them within school environments. One participant said, “It was a wonderful exercise on how to recognize microaggressions and how best to react to them. This is important because microaggressions significantly impact students’ ability to learn.”

Continuing the series on January 16, attendees were privileged to hear a parent's poignant narrative regarding the care of her transgender child in schools. Landon Callahan, an educational consultant from DESE Safe Schools, provided valuable expertise, enriching the dialogue and fostering a profound learning experience. “This session gave me the opportunity to discuss how to care for students that are becoming their authentic selves,” said one participant.

The series reached its pinnacle on April 2, as panelists representing diverse faith traditions shared their stories, addressing issues of bias, anti-Semitism, and hate. One of our panelists shared a powerful message that when children can’t share who they are they feel lonely. One participant expressed, “Dr. Kalise Wornum encourages us to embrace curiosity about one another’s faith practices and model to our children that learning about religions is an essential part of being a community member – it is one way we look out for one another – and communicate that we all belong and are welcome here.” Another participant reminded us that children have an innocent curiosity about the world and it’s how we respond to their curiosity that will make the difference with acceptance of all backgrounds and religions.

During this last session, we learned the mere appearance of signs will make people breathe easier. When a person walks into a room and sees a welcome sign, such as a PRIDE Flag or a No Place for Hate sign, they can relax knowing they entered a safe place. I was reminded of the powerful grass roots efforts happening at Morse Pond School. Fifth and sixth grade students are creating a welcoming place for all by putting up No Place for Hate signs all over the school. And another group of 5th grade students are promoting kindness through kindness notes and messages.

Throughout each gathering, Dr Wornum reaffirmed our commitment to active listening and understanding and recognizing the unique needs of every student. Reflecting on these conversations, it became clear that ongoing dialogue is essential for the well-being of students. There is a collective hope to continue this initiative into the next year, further advancing the journey toward a more safe, inclusive, and supportive learning environment for all Falmouth students.

Many thanks to all who participated this year. And we look forward to welcoming new friends next year.

Sincerely,

Lori Duerr, Ed.D.                                            Henry St. Julien
Superintendent of Schools                             Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging