Response to Racism: Teaching Tolerance

Responding to Racism

Dear GMRSD Community,

A white police officer kneels on a black man’s neck, casually, hands in pockets, while colleagues assist, until the man dies.  A white woman dog walker in Central Park calls the police on a black man bird watcher, and in a contrived call for help she attempts to use her power and privilege to endanger him.  Meanwhile, across the nation, twice as many people of color contract and die from this awful virus.  We are all outraged.  What is a school community to do?

Two tracks are active in Gill-Montague.  First, as our mission is learning, we will continue to grow our efforts to teach and learn about multicultural understanding, prejudice reduction, and social justice.  This work is ongoing for educators, administrators, and students.  In this time of physical separation and with the school year ending, we would like to extend our efforts by inviting parents and caregivers to learn more about racism and to engage in conversation about it with their children.  To that end we are providing this link Teaching Tolerance Resources  to a list of resources developed by our administrative team.  These particular resources are ones we have found to be particularly useful.   

Second, school committee member Haley Anderson has recently drafted an eloquent expression of sentiments and potential commitments that would call upon the district to become a more culturally proficient organization.  My hope is that this statement will provide a catalyst for the committee and the community to continue the hard and important work of learning more deeply together and then acting from a place of common understanding.  I will close with Haley’s draft statement and by inviting community members to share your thoughts about it with school committee members. 

Regards, Michael Sullivan

    The GMRSD school committee stands in solidarity with protestors across the world to decry the brutal and unfair treatment of Black people at the hands of the police and the criminal justice system. We recognize that we live in a nation founded on white privilege.  Systemic racism pervades our society.  Black, Indigenous, and People of Color experience racism every day, and the Gill-Montague community and our schools are not exempt from this problem.  Sitting on this committee, we have heard families’ accounts of incidences of racism in our schools. While we have made efforts to address and resolve these incidences, it is clear today that we must redouble our efforts. Our district mission statement is: Challenging and supporting every student to succeed through strong leadership, excellent teaching, and community engagement. In order to fulfill that mission, we need to commit our energy to dismantling the system that presents extraordinary barriers to happiness, health, and success for so many of our students of color. 

As the governing body of this school district, we promise to:

-Actively seek out anti-racism professional development opportunities

-Recognize and actively challenge unconscious and implicit bias in ourselves and

  our colleagues

-Closely examine our policies, curriculum, discipline, hiring practices, and student

  Assessments with a lens for equity

-Cultivate an inclusive space for non-white staff, students, and families

-Represent diversity of skin tone and perspectives in our resources classroom materials

-Talk in an age-appropriate, open, and honest way about race and racism with our students

-Provide venues for staff and administration to engage in dialogue about race, racism, and



We encourage community participation – actually, we implore it as we do this work.


As we have heard many times from community members in our meetings, pretty words are not enough. It is up to us to take these ideals and translate them into meaningful action. What we do is more important than what we say. This process will not be easy; it will not be comfortable. But it must be done.