August 25, 2022
We thank Norman Kim-Senior for making himself vulnerable in the service of better understanding equity and belonging in the independent school world through his life experiences. This letter is the first of a multi-part series exploring Norman’s journey. For those who do not speak Spanish, ‘una voz de abajo’ means ‘a voice from below’.
“I am that child that you hoped to save. I am that brilliant and poor dreamer.”
I hope that you are well. Thank you in advance for sharing your time with me. For a while now, I have been trying to understand my journey and the forces shaping the available options of the adults around me as they tried to guide me from childhood to adulthood. I also want you to know that I come from the working poor. Inadequate access to food, shelter, and healthcare are intimate memories for me and not just theoretical concepts. As such, I carry with me a clear vision of the dignity and determination of every parent who wakes up before sunrise to go to a low-wage job with the hope that they will make enough to take care of their family.
These experiences form the filter through which I see my current world, and should you choose to read beyond this point, this is the space that you are choosing to inhabit. In reflecting on my story thus far, I hope to discover and share some insights about the ways that independent schools could become more effective partners for more positive transformation in society. Ultimately, I am also assessing the ability of the independent school system to be a worthy partner with which I can collaborate to help construct the inclusive future that I hope we all can enjoy. This matters to me because I have students who need this inclusive future. It also matters to me because I, my family, my kids, and many of my dear friends need this inclusive future in order to live a joyous, purposeful, and dignified life.
I wonder about these details because I see too many families who are still struggling the way my family did. I have wondered if I might be able to help put an end to these struggles by better understanding my own journey. Like many of you, I am an educator, and I believe that education is supposed to…