Growing up, I was told to look up to the adults in my life. Back home, I found this to be a relatively simple task, as I was surrounded by adults who had experienced a childhood like my own and shared similar backgrounds and interests. I managed to easily create close connections with them because we had common roots.
Coming to Andover, however, I was placed in a unique situation where my teachers, house counselors and coaches were the only adults in my life. For me, in loco parentis meant that the majority of the people I was supposed to look up looked nothing like me.
Our school’s Senior Administrative Council is mostly white. Furthermore, although 42.2 percent of the student body identify as people of color, only 25 percent of the faculty are people of color.
Every year, when it comes time to fill out my end-of-year reflection sheet, I stop at the prompt that says something along the lines of ‘Name one adult on campus you trust.’
Every year, I think about it for a moment and write down ‘N/A’ or ‘None’ under the question.
How am I supposed to form close connections with people that I have nothing in common with? How am I to bring my problems to someone I don’t believe can relate?
Recently, institutionalized racism in the police force and in the law has come to the forefront of American news, but I also feel that this system of bias can be felt in our schools – even at Andover. “When the tools of instruction (i.e., books, teaching methods and activities) are incompatible with, or worse marginalize, the students’ cultural experiences, a disconnect with school is likely,” asserts The National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems. Learning is more than just reading books and taking notes. We cannot expect students to engage when they feel marginalized by a system that doesn’t fairly acknowledge their presence.
Andover already is taking steps towards creating a diversity of faculty on campus. The Institute for Recruitment of Teachers is working to increase the number of teachers of color on our campus and across the country. But there is more that needs to be done, because ultimately, 25 percent is not enough. Because I, like any other student here, want someone I can look up to.