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End of 2020 Principal's Message

Good Afternoon Helms Families, 

Here is a video of the message below.

I write to you tonight, with a sincere appreciation for your trust in us as the educators of your child this year and especially during this unique time. Our country is facing a time of deep and valid anger and frustration over the murder and disregard for George Floyd’s life, and the racism that continues to be exposed in all areas of society. Amidst the current climate of our country, our community at Helms continues to dialogue with one another about what our role is in dismantling white supremacy. Our Helms staff stands firmly in the belief that as educators, we have a responsibility to dismantle white supremacy through education.  Although we may all have our unique beliefs and leanings, we are all united as educators for social justice, and we believe we have the following responsibilities as a school community:

  1. Provide time and space for students to process and talk about what is happening in our country, and then truly listen to our youths’ feelings and experiences. For next school year, we have committed to having a daily homeroom period that allows time for students and staff to connect in meaningful ways. We anticipate using the time to do community circles and check-ins, teaching social emotional skills like stress management, and providing guidance on organization and goal setting, just to name a few. Even though this is the last day of school,  if your student needs a therapeutic check-in during this month, we have our health and wellness team ready to support. Please email if you would like a call. 
  2. We will continue to question the institutional structures in our education system and ensure they  are not producing outcomes that create inequities and marginalization of groups of students. We are  committed to continue to partner with families and other stakeholders in our community to get feedback and improve systems. Next school year, we plan to utilize google forms to collect family feedback on a regular basis. We believe that during this pandemic, we have benefited from an increase in direct communication with families and we would like to continue to find ways to keep this going forward. 
  3. We as a staff, will continue to foster a culture of dialogue and realness among each other as colleagues. We recognize that a  well meaninged colleague who perpetuates the silencing of youth, does not know what they cannot see about themselves. We must push ourselves to have courageous conversations when we see or hear things that are counter to the belief in the potential of all students. Next school year, our staff will continue to immerse ourselves in the work of Zaretta Hammond, learning what it is to be a culturally responsive educator. We will continue our commitment to do the “mirror work,” of looking at ourselves and role our identity, beliefs, and lived experiences affect our work, as well as the “window work” of looking outside at our school and greater community to gain insight on how to best serve our students and families. 

I love our community, I love our  staff, and I love each and every one of our students. Although we may battle with  feeling helpless during this time, I encourage us to remember the tremendous positive influence we can have on all three of these groups I love. Families and educators have one of the highest positions of power and responsibility  in forming the next generation of leaders. I am delighted and proud to know we both have daily opportunities to transform our society through education.

In Solidarity, 

Mrs. Petrilli