All boarding, grades 9-12 in Alexandria, Virginia
Guest Speakers Bring Discussions of Diversity, Slavery, Healthy Relationships to Campus
The High School community saw several speakers during the month of May for special programming.
On May 17, Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr. and Dr. Ali Michael delivered a presentation on the role teachers play in shaping the future of students from diverse backgrounds. The presentation, open to the public, was part of their book tour for The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys and was sponsored by the Office of Equity and Inclusion in partnership with the Washington Program and the Virginia Diversity Network.
After the public presentation, Dr. Moore held a dinner discussion with a select group of juniors on their roles as senior leaders next year. He spoke to them about creating a culture of inclusion on campus and making everyone feel welcome.
Perris Jones ’18, nephew of Dr. Moore, gave the introduction for the speaker, saying, “From the time that young African-American boys were raised they were told that the only way they would be able to make it in this world was by making a difference. This man about to stand before us has dedicated his entire life to making that difference. Whether that was supporting me at track meets or football games when he could make it, or if he was on stage in front of thousands of people talking about topics that most people wouldn’t have the courage to talk about in the privacy of their own homes, he made a difference.
After the dinner, Dr. Moore offered a 90-minute workshop to graduating seniors on power, privilege, and leadership and the way they can leverage their positions to make a positive change wherever they go.
Katie Koestner, a campus safety advocate and director of Take Back The Night Foundation, spoke to sophomores and juniors about campus safety as part of the Healthy Choices program.
“In 1990, rape was still ‘stranger danger’,” Koestner told students, faculty, and staff in Pendleton on May 16. According to her foundation, 1 in 3 and 1 in 6 men experience sexual or intimate partner violence, but less than 50% of victims report it. Koestner shares her experience of date rape in college with students around the country to raise awareness of relationship safety. Her story can be read here.
Dr. Will Thomas ’82, the John and Catherine Angle Chair in the Humanities and Professor of History at the University of Nebraska, was on campus earlier this month to present a short historical film he produced about an enslaved woman named Ann Williams who lived on a plantation in Prince George’s County in Maryland before she was sold and brought to Washington, D.C.
The animated film follows Williams’ journey from what could be argued as her lowest point (jumping out of a window to attempt suicide) to her highest point: suing for her freedom in federal court—and winning. The EHS social studies department hosted the event in Pendleton, and students from both Episcopal and St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes attended.
“It's a fascinating story and our students had lots of questions for Dr. Thomas about the history and what happened to Ann Williams and what ‘freedom’ meant as the nation was just being established,” Reynolds said.
After the film and Q&A, eight students, Reynolds, and fellow history teacher Caroline English had a video conference with the film’s artist and the screenplay writer. “It was an amazing event and was a great opportunity for students to see how digital platforms are being used to tell historical stories and get them out to a broader audience,” Reynolds said.
On May 23, Leslie Morgan Steiner, parent of Tallie Steiner ’20, came to campus as part of the special senior programming this month. She is the author of “Crazy Love,” her true story of getting into—and out of—an abusive marriage to a man prior to meeting Tallie’s father.
Through her story, which can be seen here, she spoke of the path that leads from emotional and psychological abuse to physical abuse: isolation, blaming all relationship problems on the victim, the cycle of explosive anger followed by an apology—all of which lead up to her ex-husband beating her dozens of times of the course of their marriage. She saw clues throughout that time, but remained in denial. One of the most difficult questions for survivors of domestic violence to answer is, “Why didn’t you just leave?” In 2013, Steiner gave a TEDx Talk to answer that question. Watch it here.
When Esther Kim ’19 left her small, predominantly white town in western Tennessee to attend Episcopal, she says she had little sense of what diversity means, or of its importance. Yet four years later, her work to make diversity a focus at EHS has earned her a Certificate of Accomplishment from the prestigious Princeton Prize in Race Relations.