Diversity and Meaningful Adults

Diversity and Meaningful Adults

Just over ten years ago, I dreaded saying my own name. I loathed introductions where a group goes around the room introducing themselves. I gave my wife Robin’s name rather than my own when asked for a name for a take-out order. Networking events – “Hi there, I am Andrew Davis” – led to sleepless nights. The source of my anxiety was my stutter; while many letters and sounds were tricky, my name was the hardest to get out of my mouth. As an extrovert with a lot to say, my stutter was something I felt every day.

While I don’t often think of my stutter these days, former Vice President Joe Biden reminded me of these challenging periods of my life as stuttering has come and gone over my whole life. Earlier this month, Biden spoke at length about his stuttering. While the techniques he uses to manage his stutter mirror many of the ones that I use, it was not these technical elements that resonated with me, but rather the importance of mentor adults. In his own life, the Vice President had supportive adults who affirmed his self-worth. Biden praised his mother for recognizing and sharing his many wonderful qualities. He also loved that she did not complete his sentences, an easy thing to do with someone who stutters. Instead she gave him the time to share his thoughts in his own words, no matter how slowly they were formed. Yes, his stutter made him different, but his thoughts and ideas were no less valuable. 

As part of my work with the Community Leadership Group this year, I recently reread the National Association of Independent School’s Principles of Good Practice for Equity and Justice. The second principle states, “The school respects, affirms, and protects the dignity and worth of each member of its community.” This is exactly what Biden’s mother and others did – respected, affirmed, and protected dignity. In my own life, I have had a number of people who did this same thing for me. My role at MTS and my fluent speech, is a result of family, friend, and school communities that respected my difference, my diversity.

As we further our work on diversity – I look forward to sharing more from the Community Leadership Group this summer – I am invigorated to ensure that we respect, affirm, and protect the dignity and worth of each member of our community. Let MTS be the place that each young person feels valued in their difference, their diversity. 

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