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Mission Kindness, Respect, and Generosity

March 16, 2020
Director of Educational Innovation and Leadership

On Friday, March 13th, school districts in the Atlanta Metro area and across the country announced they would be closing. The week before, friends and colleagues were deciding to cancel their trip to Portland, Ore. to attend the Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE) conference, one of the largest gatherings of computer science education experts. I also ended up canceling and I knew immediately that things had to and were going to change swiftly. I thought about the teachers and students we serve. I thought about my team of fellows. I thought about my family. 

At the Constellations Center for Equity in Computing (Constellations), I remain committed to not only equity in computing but to also advocate for and nurture a strong community among many educators and partners. The way we connect with each other impacts our work and success. This is important because so many people count on us to be there for them, to do what we say we’re going to do, and to stand up for those who can't stand up for themselves and do the right thing. In these uncertain times, the focus on equity in our mission cannot take a back seat. The closing of schools has brought about an urgent need to shift mindsets about how every community affects one another in our state, our nation and all around the world.  

Anticipating the school closures, Constellations stood (and still stands) ready and poised to assist teachers. We recognized that directives would be given to teachers to facilitate online course work with their students. The Constellations fellows have quickly prepared themselves to help and support teachers in this transition. I am grateful for the fellows and their shared understanding of our mission. 

As a team we are continuing to assess the impacts on equity in education due to this pandemic. We are fortunate to have the resources to be able to telecommute so we can also practice our social responsibility to help slow down the spread of this virus to protect the most vulnerable from the impacts of COVID-19. Constellations is fully operational and we intend to continue sharing our work through our website and social media

When They Go Low, We Go High

I want to share a story about the important role we each have to help each other through this time of crisis. Entering into the new year in early January, I found myself watching national and international news cycles more carefully as they began rigorous reporting on the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

Entering into a meeting shortly after, I found myself being a target of snarky remarks about being linked to the source and the spread of the virus. I'm not Chinese and I haven't traveled internationally in years. It was ignorance at its best and all comments were taken as good humor by others in the room.

Of course, this wasn't the first time I've experienced inappropriate behavior toward me and I was caught off guard. Instead of standing up and making a big deal out of it, I said nothing. I admit a silent rage bubbled inside me and for a few minutes a sense of disappointment was overwhelming. In that moment it was so obvious to me that in this time of the growing pandemic no one is immune to ignorance. I reminded myself of Michelle Obama's unforgettable words, "When they go low, we go high."

The point of this story is to assure you that this is not a time to remain silent. There is no better time to emphasize that no community is immune to ignorance and no one is immune to the novel coronavirus itself.

Together, We Can Do This

We must all do our best to help keep our loved ones healthy and to save the lives of those that are susceptible to the worst outcomes of the novel coronavirus. Now more than ever is the time to bring out the best of ourselves to help one another. And remember social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation.

The Constellations Center will leverage several digital platforms to continue supporting teachers and students virtually and we’ve planned consistent ways to message and stay connected with stakeholders. We will promote useful information regarding education and nutrition matters. We will look out for one another in every one of our communities because we believe that when we fail each other we fail ourselves. We are all in this together.

In moments of crisis, every person, and every community has a role in helping to keep each other safe. Each of us can make a difference by treating one another with kindness, respect, and generosity. 

Thank you for your belief and support of the Constellations Center. We remain relentless in the pursuit of equity in education and the American way of life for every community across the nation.