The power of speaking one’s truth and acknowledging the experience of others

By Rose Helm
Last night at the State of the School, I reflected on this past year and all of the events that have brought us together, as well as those that have pulled us apart. Of course, there was the literal isolation we experienced when we shut our campus doors in mid-March 2020. Nearly overnight we went from donning animal prints at the Special Event to being shuttered in our homes and glued to the news. We have seen events borne of fear and ignorance -- most recently with a rise of anti-Semitic hate crimes across the U.S. and here in Los Angeles -- that have caused harm to groups of people in our community and our nation, as well as our collective identity.
As I shared with students in Morning Assembly earlier this week, at JTD we care deeply about the 5C’s, and the 5C’s mean that we speak up against hate, intolerance, and violence targeted against any group of people. We stand by the members of our community -- whatever their religion, race, or ethnicity -- and when we disagree about something, we work through it together. 
Conflict resolution is hard, don’t get me wrong. I remember an incident that occurred a few years ago with a first grade student who came running off the bus crying to me that a sixth grader had yelled at him. I pulled the two boys aside and asked the first grader to use his “I statement” to say what he was feeling: 
The first grader looked the older boy in the eyes and said, “I felt scared when you yelled at me.” 
The older boy responded by acknowledging the younger boy’s feelings and sharing his own: “I am sorry you felt scared. I felt scared when you got up and ran around the bus. I shouldn’t have raised my voice but I was worried about your safety.”
This exchange -- like so many others we bear witness to on the playground, in the classroom, and perhaps even outside the walls of JTD -- shows us the power of speaking one’s truth and acknowledging the experience of others. While not all situations can end like the one I witnessed (with a high five and a promise to sit next to one another on the ride home), we can hope that our children will face their futures with empathy and the necessary skills to navigate life’s inevitable conflicts and to stand up for what is right. Above all, I hope that they will be agents of positive change, working to bring communities together rather than to pull us apart. May we all continue to be there for one another so that we can navigate these difficult times with empathy and compassion.

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The John Thomas Dye School

11414 Chalon Road
Los Angeles, CA 90049
Phone: (310) 476-2811
The John Thomas Dye School admits students of any race, color, religion, sexual orientation, or national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the School. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, or national and ethnic origin in the administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic or other school-administered programs.

Located In Los Angeles, CA, John Thomas Dye is an independent school for grades K-6. Students benefit from a challenging academic program, fine arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.