By Dean of Student Life for Intermediate and Middle Schools Anthony Shaker
Recently, 7th grade English teacher Kate Tabor and I have been coordinating the relaunch of Parker Partners. We recognized the program would be new for all Middle Schoolers since Parker Partners hadn’t taken place for three years. For that reason, we wanted the kids to hear from someone who has dedicated their life to activism, community work and social justice. MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellow, 2019 Opus Prize Laureate, executive director of the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) and Parker parent Rami Nashashibi came to mind immediately. Our hope was that he would help the students see the greater purpose and vision of their work at Parker Partner sites.
As we prepared for his visit, we discovered connections with the Intermediate School as well. The 4th grade recently completed a unit on the Civil Rights Movement, focusing in particular on important people working behind the scenes. And the 5th grade is starting to work on curriculum related to bystanders and upstanders. All these elements connected to Rami’s life and work, so we were glad that all five grades were able to hear from him.
My biggest takeaway was how Rami was able to weave so many threads into his talk: sports, family, history, struggle, joy, small victories, big victories, etc. Hopefully that gave our students a sense that community work is not a box to be checked or something that they do every month or so at school; rather, it’s a rich, deep and powerful way to engage and connect with the world.