The School Reform Initiative (SRI) recently held its first virtual Summer Meeting. Traditionally, SRI — an independent, non-profit organization that supports the creation of transformational learning communities — hosts an annual face-to-face gathering each fall where educators come together and renew their commitment to educational equity and excellence.
However, this year, given the current health and economic conditions across the country and the concerns related to travel due to COVID-19, the Houston-based organization put off its fall meeting in Memphis until next year, and opted instead to host a summer meeting online. And while the format for coming together as a community of learners changed, what didn’t is SRI’s focus on serving as an agent for its community of facilitators who work with schools, districts, and other agencies and organizations to give students what they need to be successful — regardless of their internal and external social and cultural contexts.
During the opening session of the virtually presented event, Eagle Rock students were highlighted in a music video they created in an Eagle Rock School class named Reflect, Connect, and Create Music. The five-minute video, which you can watch below, features expressive rap, songs, and instrumentals, illustrated by scenes of protest and support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Reflect, Connect, and Create Music was taught by our Societies & Cultures Instructional Specialist, Cedric Josey, and our 2020/2021 Public Allies Fellow in Residential Life, Lucia Sicius. The class encouraged students to focus on reflection, expression, and connection, through music — especially in the time of a global pandemic.
To our way of thinking, especially in the midst of a global health pandemic, students need us to uphold our commitment to support and educate them. Over the last few months, a spotlight has been focused on the racial disparities across the globe, including there here in the United States. As students have been discovering, those inequities include a health care system that illustrates the drastic difference in outcomes for individuals who have suffered from the virus named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes, named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), as well as a criminal justice system where the lives of Black men and women are taken indiscriminately.
If we are honest with ourselves, the patterns of the past in public schools reveal to us that many in this country have not served all children well. Here at Eagle Rock, we are completely focused on fulfilling the promise of education, particularly to those who have been marginalized by our beliefs and our practices. As a result, we were really glad to see and support the theme of SRI’s Summer Meeting 2020 — Keeping it Fierce: Affirming Our Commitment to Equity and Excellence.
Throughout the class that resulted in the video shown during the Summer Meeting, Eagle Rock students used music to express their feelings, aspects of their identity, and parts of their culture. At the same time, they learned the elements of a song and the process of songwriting and were honored to work together to co-create the video shown during SRI’s Summer Meeting.
Learn more about SRI and its upcoming events by visiting the School Reform Initiative website.