List of 17 news stories.

  • Community Reflections: National Disability Awareness Month, Reflection 3

    An Interview with Jennifer Harrison                    
    “Something that I would want anyone to know about my family and my child - or anyone with disabilities or differences - is that they have a level of persistence and determination that the rest of us probably can’t understand,” says Jenn Harrison, interim assistant director of the Lower School.

    Harrison’s twelve-year-old daughter Elizabeth – whom she describes as “an incredibly observant, intense, and loyal kid who struggles with expressive language and conversation” - is on the autism spectrum. “She’s not a ‘go-with-the-flow’ kind of kid,” she adds. “She really, really likes structure and organization. She likes things to be predictable and forecasted, something which comes easily for me because I’ve been a teacher for over twenty years.”
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  • Community Reflections: National Disability Awareness Month, Reflection 2

    Deaf but Hearing Loud and Clear
    Tawana Dolman, program coordinator for DEIJ
     
    At the age of 13, an acoustic neuroma tumor ruptured my ear drum and caused a total loss of hearing in my right ear along with severe nerve damage. The odds of this particular kind of tumor growing in a 14-year-old girl were about one and 3 million - and four years later it grew back. Not only was I unable to hear, but the muscles in my face were dead, and I was unable to cry out of my right eye. I developed keloid skin on my neck and scalp, which stunted hair growth around the incision, and most of the cartilage and bone behind my ear had to be removed.  Scared, but still always the first to raise my hand in class, I graduated from high school a semester early with honors and a GPA of 4.2.
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  • Community Reflections: National Disability Awareness Month, Reflection 1

    Personal Disability: The Problem with Public Perception
    Garet Libbey, chief talent officer

    “You don’t have a disability. If someone is disabled, they are unable to do something. When has that ever been the case for you?”

    That was my husband’s response when I told him that I would be writing for the DEIJ blog about how my disability has shaped my personal and professional identity. He’s right in one sense: There’s very little that having just one hand prevents me from doing. I have always said that I have a physical disability but that I don’t consider myself disabled. For me, that label suggests that I am limited in some way. That is not how I see myself and has never been how I have seen myself.
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  • Ingenious, Indigenous Solutions to Modern Problems

    Jacob Kordeleski
    Indigenous Peoples’ Day is an alternative to Columbus Day and is celebrated by a growing number of institutions throughout the United States. The re-branding does not seek to diminish the significant role Columbus played in the history of the Americas, but rather to recognize and honor the various peoples that were “discovered” in the New World.

    October 12 is Indigenous Peoples’ Day. It comes rightly amidst a series of significant events involving our nation’s many indigenous communities. In July, the Cleveland Indians formally resolved to become the Cleveland Guardians, triggering celebration, controversy, and a public conversation involving seemingly every Ohio sports fan. August saw the premiere of the first-ever television program produced and cast entirely by American Indians. Lastly, and perhaps most amazing of all, just two weeks ago scientists announced the discovery of footprints pushing back the known habitation of North America nearly 10,000 years.

    As such, this October we are well-situated to reflect on ourselves, our society, and the indigenous history of our nation. Rather than advocate for Indigenous Peoples’ Day or discuss various issues, I want to take this opportunity to highlight much of the underappreciated genius found throughout our world’s indigenous communities. Here are three ways indigenous cultures do (or did) it better than our modern methods:

    1 – Fighting Fire with Fire
    Many have heard of the devastating forest fires of the Western U.S., seen photos of red skies filled with smoke and cinder, or even known someone who lost their home to a wildfire. Forest fires were not always the frightening wildfires of today but rather frequent, controlled purges of dangerous woodland.

    Controlled burns were heavily used by many native communities before a century-long ban by the U.S. Forest Service in the early 1900s. Combined with their shrewd logging, these efforts allowed indigenous Americans to transform wildfires into a more frequent but far less deadly problem for millennia. Foresters have recently come around, stating that cultural burns drastically reduce “fuel load,” the critical sum of burnable materials in our at-risk forests.




    More on indigenous fire management:

    2 – Stewards of Biodiversity
    Despite making up only about 5% of the population, indigenous communities shelter an astounding 80% of the world’s biodiversity. They achieve this by living minimally in their natural habitat. By sacrificing some comforts that we are familiar with such as lawns, land, and highways, indigenous groups typically create the most sustainable living environments on the planet. While the United States will never be an ultra-diverse rainforest, perhaps we can find ways to reintegrate the natural world into our cities once again.




    The Sapara of Ecuador, in their Yasuni National Park, co-exist with an estimated 1500 species of mammals, birds, fish, and frogs.

    More on biodiversity in indigenous land:
    3 – Feeding the World with Permaculture, Not Agriculture
    When it comes to feeding our planet, no one disagrees that modern machinery and farming methods allow just one laborer unparalleled efficiency and the ability to produce thousands of pounds of food. However, modern farming requires huge amounts of energy and fertilizer (a top-three producer of greenhouse gases in the United States). It also promotes “monoculture,” an unhealthy reliance on one species – such as BT Zea mays, or sweetcorn – with the potential to fail.

    Indigenous communities, and formerly most of the world before industrialization, instead practice what many biologists have called “permaculture.” Agriculture dedicates huge spaces to annual crops and prioritizes delivering food worldwide for profit. Permaculture cultivates a small but regenerative food forest, embeds a source of food in the local community, and creates more resilient crop species. For example, the Kenyah Dayak of Borneo have managed to sustain over a hundred species of trees, many food-bearing, in a single hectare of land.



    Three Keyah Dayak survey a forest in Borneo.

    More on indigenous food and Forest management:
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  • Hispanic Heritage Month

    Pedro Chiesa '22
    Pedro Chiesa is a current senior at the Gates Mills Campus, first generation Latino student, a leader of the Hispanic Affinity Group, a member of the policy-making Diversity Council, and a graduate of the NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference.
     
    I came to Hawken as a freshman. Toward the beginning of my time here, in Humanities 9, we developed our own identity wheel and categorized different pieces of ourselves within it, and then talked to others to understand the different pieces of their wheels. That experience is representative of many similar later experiences; the various opportunities at school that have pushed me to be a more understanding, inclusive, and equitable person.  
     
    A year prior to coming to Hawken, I had struggled as a student, even failing a class and occasionally getting into altercations with teachers and students. As a freshman in a new environment with new people, I had the opportunity to restart. The feeling of having a different cultural, environmental, and personal background from many of my peers was a challenge at times. But, as a result of being able to reintroduce myself, I began the process of creating a new model for myself of what type of student - and person - I could be. 
     
    The Hispanic Affinity Group was instrumental in that process. It helped me connect with my own cultural background which, for a variety of reasons, like going to predominantly white schools and knowing only a handful of Hispanics, I had failed to immerse myself in. Simply attending the meetings helped me find a stronger sense of self.
     
    Starting in my 10th grade year, at first, I was doubtful of how many people would show up and what degree of success the group would have. Being a new group, there was a lot to work out, and we had to establish what our meetings would look like. I also only knew maybe two or three Hispanic students who might show up. I was a little surprised to find a familiar community, make a handful of good friends, and reflect on and understand my own context and its implications on my life.
     
    Later I was asked to be a co-leader of the group with Gaby Montero, and we led our group with the support of Ms. Mihalski. Soon after, Yerko Sepúlveda joined our team. 
     
    Throughout high school, I’ve seen an increasing number of resources, time, and dedication to making Hawken more diverse. Consequently, the impact of this work shows up in my day-to-day life as a student: I see more Hispanic faculty, the increasing representation of Hispanics, and even spontaneous things like hearing people speak Spanish in the halls or seeing Yerko drink mate, a traditional South American tea, makes school feel homelike.
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  • Q & A with Aisha Bowen

    For the last three years, Aisha worked at Indianapolis Classical Schools, Riverside High School, first as a lead English teacher and, most recently, as dean of students. She also served as a specialist in racial equity and culturally responsive teaching for Indianapolis Classical Schools. Before that, Aisha was an out of school time program facilitator at Education Works in Philadelphia. Early in her career, she worked in South Africa as a research and development team member at the Molteno Institute for Language and Literacy and as a teacher/volunteer at the Ikhaya Primary School. Aisha earned a B.A. in English and urban secondary education from Howard University and a M.S.Ed. in international education development from the University of Pennsylvania.
     
    How have your life and work experiences prepared you for your role as DEIJ director at Hawken?
    My preparation for DEIJ (unknowingly) began for me around the age of 8 when my younger brother Tre was born. Tre was born with cerebral palsy and autism, and I spent many years observing and supporting my mother in finding equitable ways to give Tre the quality of life and learning that he deserved. I saw how my hometown’s school system, health care providers, and government liaisons alike often treated my brother and family differently because we were African American and low income. I lived through that struggle for equitable treatment and support on behalf of my brother, and it lit a fire in me from a young age to be more attuned to the needs of folks who are marginalized.

    Outside of my upbringing, my tenure at Howard University and the University of Pennsylvania also provided ample opportunities for learning and practice that addressed marginalization and inequity on theoretical and practical levels. I have been blessed to be able to work in educational settings within communities in Washington, DC, Philadelphia, PA, Newark, NJ, Cape Town, South Africa, and Indianapolis, Indiana designing solutions with students and families that address diversity, equity, and inclusion. As such, I am excited to bring these experiences to the beautiful city of Cleveland and dynamic Hawken community.

    Given that this is a relatively new position at the Upper School, what do you see as your greatest challenge(s)?
    In this new position, I love that there are so many spaces where the DEIJ office can provide support and partnership. As such, the greatest challenge (which is a positive one!) will be learning how to properly time based on the most poignant interests and needs of the Upper School community.

    What aspects of your job excite you the most?
    I am most excited for the opportunity to work with students and support them for making their visions for a more equitable and inclusive school community a reality.
     
    What drew you to the Hawken community and to this position?
    I was immediately drawn to Hawken due to this community’s open and forward commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. DEIJ is embedded in the ethos of Fair Play, and members of Hawken’s leadership team are fully committed to the work.  

    Who inspires you and why?
    The individual who inspires me the most is my mother. She is driven, loving, supportive, and doesn’t take no for an answer when it comes to helping those she loves most. I strive to be as dependable as she is for all those I encounter.
     
    What do you like to do in your free time? What are you eager to explore in the Cleveland area?
    I am a reader and love to take time to delve into good books (currently I am reading a beautiful novel by Isabel Allende). Reading relaxes me and allows my mind to creatively flow. I am also an avid foodie and music lover; so if there’s a space with good food and good music, I’m in!
     
    What are 3 character traits that your friends would use to describe you?
    Responsible, caring, and driven

    What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
    I played club softball for 10 years of my life. At one point in time, my team was first in the U.S.!

    What’s something you’ve done that you will never do again?
    Cut my hair. I’m a naturalista and love letting my fro grow.

    What is your favorite book? Favorite movie?
    I am a lover of science fiction, so my favorite book is Kindred by Octavia Butler. Movies… not so much. If I watch Modern Family I’m more than a happy camper 😊.

    What is your guilty pleasure?
    Chocolate. Chocolate. Chocolate.

    Name your favorite song or artist.
    R&B is my favorite genre of music, and SO MANY great artists live within that genre. If I had to pick ONE it would be Jasmine Sullivan.
     
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  • Belonging



    by Lou Salza

    “The past is never dead. It's not even past. All of us labor in webs spun long before we were born, webs of heredity and environment, of desire and consequence, of history and eternity.
    Haunted by wrong turns and roads not taken, we pursue images perceived as new but whose providence dates to the dim dramas of childhood, which are themselves but ripples of consequence echoing down the generations.
    -
    William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun
     
    “It may be easier to change the course of history than to change a history course in America’s High Schools.”
    -Anonymous
     
     
    Last year the public health crisis caused by the COVID pandemic exposed historical racial, social, political, and economic cracks in our society, causing disruptions that rumbled across Ohio and shook our nation and the world. We were confronted with the long-standing deterioration of our public health infrastructure and our unfair access to basic health care. We cannot avert our eyes from what we have witnessed. We cannot avoid our individual and collective responsibility as parents, educators, and engaged citizens to move our school, our community, and our society to greater levels of equity and Fair Play.  
     
    As I consider in which of Faulkner’s “webs” I “labor,” I find I have had to review, reflect on, reconsider, and revise what I think and understand about myself, about my role as an educator, and about the American history I was taught in high school.  One web has certainly been my struggle to learn to read as a child with dyslexia. All schools weave webs of design, policy, expectation, and practice. Some children climb quickly and efficiently up and over the web. Others get trapped, caught, and constrained by their struggles with reading, their awareness of the racism in their environment, their sense of being different in some way. These constraints then spill over and compromise other areas of endeavor - their social lives, their sense of self and emotional wellness, and perhaps most importantly, their sense of belonging. Serving children and families who have been trapped in a web of illiteracy and labeled “learning disabled” due to learning differences became my personal and professional journey for over 45 years. It has been a journey toward belonging.
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  • Juneteenth

    By Hawken's DEIJ Team
    On June 19, 1865 (what we now refer to as “Juneteenth”) Mayor General Gordon Granger announced that enslaved people of African descent in Galveston, TX would be freed in accordance with the Emancipation Proclamation that President Abraham Lincoln issued two and a half years prior in 1863. Texas officially recognized this day as a holiday in 1980, and President Joe Biden recently signed a bill making it a federal holiday.

    This Juneteenth, let us remember the lives taken and families separated by the dehumanizing institution of chatel slavery. Let us also remember the strength and courage of those who boldly fought to resist enslavement and sought liberation. May this important day remind us to stand in solidarity with all who are oppressed and to use our collective voices to uplift human dignity.  

    Learn more about Juneteenth from the following resources:
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  • PRIDE is an Evolution

    By Dan Bobeczko
    June is PRIDE month. What exactly does that mean though? For some, PRIDE is a time to remember the historical struggles of those in the LGBTQ+ community: the hiding, persecution, and stigma. For some, PRIDE is an analysis of political progress from Stonewall to Marriage Equality. Others will celebrate “coming out” and anniversaries, while some will remember those who have passed - having missed out on the opportunity to partake in a month of reflection and sharing. Each individual, whether a member of the community or an ally, comes to PRIDE at different stages of their journeys, with different lived experiences and different lenses, which makes celebrating PRIDE unique. PRIDE is an evolution.

    Having come out later in life, PRIDE for me was something that I observed from the sidelines, curious but cautious. Meeting my partner (now husband) and joining Cleveland’s Gay Men’s Chorus (the North Coast Men’s Chorus) was a way to slowly become involved in the community with greater opportunities to explore the facets that help make up PRIDE: historical perspectives, shared experiences, and a sense of belonging.

    PRIDE, for me, took on a deeper meaning in June of 2015 when Marriage Equality allowed me to propose after 15 years of partnership. Being afforded the same rights as all citizens was liberating and cause for long-awaited celebration. “Curious and cautious” gave way to “grateful and guarded.”

    Joining the Hawken family for the 2019-2020 school year was an enlightening experience. An LGBTQ+ Affinity Group and a schoolwide mission statement with a commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice provided a long-awaited personal and professional safe space that had been missing in my life. Participation in gatherings and activities with staff has widened my sphere of perspectives and experiences and has continued to build that sense of community and belonging - so much so that this is the first year I’ve felt comfortable enough to hang a PRIDE flag from our home! (*The one I ordered ended up being quite large - so it needed to be draped from a 2nd story window!) A post about it to a neighborhood Facebook group received over 250 likes - another reaffirming sign from another supportive community! While I may not be leading the parade, I’m slowly moving toward “excited and engaged!” PRIDE is an evolution!

    Dr. Bobeczko (left) served as the 2nd & 3rd Grade Remote Learning Coach this school year and will be co-teaching the 1st & 2nd Grade Multi-Age Class next year at the Lower School.
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  • Honor the Asian American Heritage Month

    By Yue Ming
    As May marks another commemoration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I must admit that this year feels different from most. Not only has a global pandemic changed our lives, it has also revealed long-standing, deeply-rooted racial and social inequities in our country. This year has also been marked by tragedy in Atlanta and Indianapolis, and these particular events of violence have hit particularly close to my heart. However, in light of these tragedies, the outpouring of support and inclusivity from the Hawken community reminds me that in the face of racially-targeted hate, we must speak louder in support of our community members of diverse backgrounds.
     
    I came to this country over 30 years ago with the hopes of pursuing a higher education and with the intention of eventually “fitting in” to American culture. Throughout the process of building my life in the United States and raising my family, I have integrated and blended Chinese culture, food, music, art, and especially language with my close friends, family, and community. I am proud to be able to share my experiences and my perspective in the safe, supportive community that Hawken is.
     
    I would like to share some photos below of me and my family enjoying life in the Bedoyan-Ming household!  
     
    Yue Ming, May 2021










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  • Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month

    May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month and an important time to recognize the many contributions AAPI people have made to our nation. It was first recognized as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week in 1977 before becoming a month-long celebration in 1992. As an institution committed to Fair Play, we will create spaces to honor the voices of those who are too often silenced and embrace those who are made to feel invisible by society. This month is also an important reminder to reaffirm our commitment to stand in solidarity with AAPI communities against acts of hate that are far too prevalent. To members of the AAPI community here at Hawken, we see you and send our heartfelt appreciation for all of the ways you make our community a dynamic place.
     
    There are many meaningful ways to recognize this heritage month such as attending the Cleveland Asian Festival, supporting an AAPI local business, or joining in local advocacy work. Below you will find more resources to learn about AAPI stories and contributions.
     
    • Asian Americans
      • This documentary covers the history, contributions, and challenges that Asian Americans have experienced. This captivating series includes personal histories and stories to provide context to the experience and impact of Asian Americans, the fastest-growing demographic in the United States. 
    • Books on AAPI Experience
    • Cleveland’s Asia Town Neighborhood
    • Celebrating AAPI Voices
      • Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities encompass a wide range of cultures and lived experiences, and each one is an important part of the American narrative. Their stories are American stories, and their voices deserve to be heard. That’s why we’re highlighting a few of the stories from our AAPI participants, to help people find connection and understanding by amplifying their words.
    • Learning for Justice
      • As you plan for the upcoming Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we encourage you to celebrate and teach the diversity of AAPI identities. Then, keep going by incorporating AAPI voices into your curricula all year long. You can begin with these resources.
      
    Let us continue to lift up these important voices not only during this heritage month but all throughout the year.
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  • Hawken School: Response to the Violence and Tragedy in Atlanta

    By Hawken's DEIJ Team
    As a school committed to a culture of respect, awareness, and responsibility, it is important that we take a stance against events that go against our values. We are deeply saddened and disturbed by the recent anti-Asian hate crime in the Atlanta area and the increase in violent acts and hateful rhetoric towards members of the Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Our deepest sympathies, thoughts, prayers, and condolences go out to the loved ones of those whose lives were taken in these hateful acts. To members of our Hawken AAPI community and those most closely impacted by these events, please know that we are here to support you and stand with you.  
     
     
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  • Black History Month

    By Hawken's DEIJ Team
    Greetings Hawken Community:
     
    We wanted to pause and take a moment to acknowledge Black History Month, founded by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a historian, professor, and Dean at Howard University and the second African American to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University.
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  • Jacob Kordeleski, Middle School support teacher

    Why Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a More Equitable Columbus Day

    By Jacob Kordeleski
    “He has … endeavoured to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare, is an undistinguished Destruction, of all Ages, Sexes and Conditions.”

    So speaks the Declaration of Independence, the document most revered for its Americanism aside from perhaps the Constitution. Just paragraphs after the famous statement that “All men are created equal,” an entire continent of native peoples is reduced to a group of “savages.” How is it that our nation, which prides itself on freedom and equality, inflicted so much hate and hardship on the natives that call America their homeland? Why do some institutions (such as Hawken), choose to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day on October 12, while others choose to celebrate Christopher Columbus, the man who enabled this injustice?
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  • Students Reflect on Stamped Book Club

    The morning after the downtown Cleveland George Floyd protests, which happened to be the last day of school at the end of a wild year, the constant banter in the House Leader group chat went quiet. I knew something was up, but it wasn’t until hours later that I started hearing from kids, one by one, that “something awkward” happened, though they wouldn’t give me details.
     
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  • Hispanic Heritage Month

    By Sofía M. De Jesús
    Well, it’s 2020 and Hispanic Heritage Month snuck up on me again. The month spans from September 15 through October 15 and every year, I spend some time reading, learning, and studying about my own heritage more closely, even though that’s always something I like to do regularly.
    But what is Hispanic Heritage Month? When did it start and why? Why is it important to me and others like me?
    Let me try to address that one question at a time.
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  • Introducing DEIJ Blog: Voices of Fair Play

    By Darnell Epps
     
    Dear Hawken Community, 
     
    Hawken’s DEIJ team and I are excited to announce the upcoming launch of a blog dedicated to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice at Hawken. In the year ahead, you will hear more about the work taking place at Hawken as we continue to grow in this work and to learn about present and historical inequities in our local and global communities. On this site, we will share stories about our school community’s DEIJ journey and also feature resources to promote greater understanding about injustice and ways to take action. We are deeply committed to delving even further into these issues to educate, think critically, dialogue, and take steps to meaningful action. To echo  Hawken’s Diversity Statement, “Our motto of Fair Play demands nothing less.” 
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An independent, coeducational, college preparatory day school, toddler through grade 12

Lower & Middle Schools, 5000 Clubside Rd, Lyndhurst, OH 44124
Birchwood School of Hawken, 4400 West 140th Street, Cleveland, OH 44135 

Upper School, PO Box 8002 (12465 County Line Rd), Gates Mills, OH 44040
Mastery School of Hawken, 11025 Magnolia Dr, Cleveland, OH 44106

Gries Center, 10823 Magnolia Dr, Cleveland, OH 44106

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