A Reflection

by Dr. Ed Castro, Interim EICL Coordinator

When I reflect on my arrival to the Equity, Inclusion, and Compassionate Leadership (EICL) position in July, I am reminded of the enormous sense of responsibility I felt to honor the previous work done and progress made before by EPS teachers and students, notably Bess McKinney who is on leave from this position until February. With that in mind, I immediately set out to look for guidance on my new journey. On more than one occasion I was advised to start with, or lean into, the thing that first captured my interest in diversity work.

At my core as an educator, I know I am—and am specifically trained to be—a music teacher. There is a large part of me that constantly seeks to understand the who, what, when, where and why of how an artist creates, and the circumstances that led to the creation of their art form. I believe that everyone is an artist of some sort—we each create some form of art.  Every person has their own diverse story, leading to their own unique creation.

Understanding story and diversity through the arts is where I started and is where I suspect I will continue to learn the most and be able to share with all of you. The arts are my entry point for conversations, debates, perspective sharing, commiserating, and they provide me with a landing place to live with the uncomfortable. Art can bring us together and close the gap between our perceived differences, because through art, we are each sharing our unique stories.

Eventually, parts of our work will involve deepening and cultivating a relational understanding of our communities. Our role in the work to come will be to continue building structures and supports for our community. This means being willing to talk about those out-of-our-comfort-zone topics such as systemic racism, personal bias, and privilege while taking time to understand and celebrate our own differences and differences of others. We will seek to understand conversations (started in earnest two years ago when the EICL Coordinator position came to be; see Community Briefings on EICL webpage) and will continue to support and educate students, faculty, parents, and other EPS stakeholders around diversity, equity and inclusion. Currently, we have an EICL work-plan we are following (see EICL webpage for more details), and are making adjustments throughout EPS to ensure that diversity, equity, and inclusion is a value demonstrated and experienced by all.

I’m excited to share my story with you, and look forward to sharing more stories of our community as we engage in this important work together.