To prepare our students to courageously engage and transform an ethnically and culturally diverse world by providing them authentic relationships and experiences that lead them to see each human being through God’s eyes, and to love – as they love themselves – those whose life experiences and points of view are different from their own.
-Trinity Academy’s Diversity Mission Statement

As part of our year-end professional development, Trinity Academy’s faculty and staff took a field trip to the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. While there, we spent almost two hours in the exhibit RACE: Are We So Different? Upon concluding our time at the museum, we returned to Trinity Academy and engaged in a 2-hour conversation, led by the Reverend James White, on the exhibit and diversity at Trinity Academy. This led to a few key points I would like to feature regarding our approach to diversity, specifically within the Lower School.

I want to highlight two reasons (out of many) why diversity is a worthy strategic priority for Trinity Academy. First, we want to reflect the Church (the body of believers) which consists of people of every tribe and tongue. Diversity is essential for us to reflect the Biblical image of the Church. Secondly, we are preparing students to engage in the world, to Transform Tomorrow. The world of tomorrow (and the world of today) is a diverse one. Diversity comes in many forms; however, diversity of race is something that our nation has struggled with since our founding. We must be willing to talk about issues of race, openly and honestly, to help our students be culture-transformers.

As a classical, Christian school, we are uniquely equipped to engage and prepare our students for a diverse world. We are able to address it in a way that non-Christian schools cannot:

  • We acknowledge, as a truth of the Gospel, that all people are image bearers of God. This includes people of different races, different abilities, ages, skills, and talents. It extends beyond the issue of race but is very much a part of our approach.
  • While a history of racism and discrimination is tough to understand and grapple with, especially for young children, we teach our students the concepts of sin and grace. With Jesus as our model of forgiveness, we can help our students process and wrestle with historical racism while also talking through racial tension and discrimination that they will encounter today.

As mentioned above, the issue of racism is a difficult one for students to understand at a young age. While we will introduce issues around racism as is appropriate for each age, it is important to remember that Trinity Academy does not exist to inoculate our students from the world. We teach students to walk towards truth (along with goodness and beauty). We will not be teaching the full horrors of slavery in Kindergarten but neither will we ignore it, or other issues around race, in the Lower School years. There are certain truths about the world that students will need to be exposed to at proper times; however, we will also balance that exposure with the ultimate goodness and beauty of the Gospel, as seen in the examples below:

  • When our 2nd grade students read about the Underground Railroad and learn why it was needed, they will be able to engage in conversation that also addresses how a Christian should respond to wrongs in the world around them.
  • When our 5th grade students read a book about the Civil War that uses language common to that era, they will engage in conversation around the importance of words and how they can carry a meaning over time that still impacts us today.

We know that our students are being bombarded by fallacies espoused by the world, therefore, if we do not teach our students God’s truth, they will not be able to discern the difference of what the world teaches as truth. Our students need to appreciate and value each individual as God’s image-bearer while also understanding the mistakes of a sinful people, both historical and present day. We will also focus on those who got it right – who were shining examples from history and talk about present- day heroes as well.

  • When we are introducing or showing key figures within a content area (scientists, people who played a role in history, etc.) we will make it a point to highlight people from a variety of racial backgrounds.
  • We have invested in, and will continue to be intentional with utilizing, literature from a diverse range of authors or that include diverse characters. Literature, especially when paired with history as is often the case at Trinity Academy, is a powerful tool for discussion in a classroom.
  • When students research individuals (such as the 4th grade Notable North Carolinian or the 5th grade Wax Museum) notable persons of minority origin will be included in the assignment, allowing the class to be exposed to people from a variety of backgrounds in multiple content areas.
  • With Poetry & Prose, you can help your child select an author or a piece of literature that helps reflect diversity or another topic or concept you wish to discuss within your family. We do ask that you make sure your selection remains appropriate for the whole Lower School (despite the specific grade your child is in finalists present to the entire Lower School and some topics are not appropriate for all ages) but there are many excellent options out there (especially if you select a major historical speech) that can lead to conversations within your family.

As you can see, Trinity Academy is committed to an open conversation and intentional learning opportunities for our students and families. I would highly recommend that all Trinity families visit the exhibit at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences to aid us all in continuing the conversation. Details, including a family guide, may be found on this website.

 

Matthew Breazeale
Lower School Head
Trinity Academy