The National Association of Social Workers defines social justice as “the view that everyone deserves equal economic, political and social rights and opportunities.” By addressing social justice in our Vanguard Collegiate of Indianapolis classrooms, we enable our scholars to engage in authentic examination of their world. We know our scholars are future leaders and we unapologetically educate them to be so. To study social justice is to learn about the problems that dramatically impact quality of life for us, and for other populations, and how we can all work to solve these problems.
Shaken, yet unbroken
Our own Founder and Executive Director, Robert Marshall, shared thoughtfully this summer,
“On March 13, 2020 we closed our doors at the order of the Indianapolis Mayor’s Office due to a pandemic that has changed the way the world operates in general and has specifically ravaged Black, Latinx and poor communities. COVID-19 did more than present challenges like our community has never seen; it also made plain the inequities that exist in education, health care, food security, housing, employment and mental health services. Through it all, we are shaken yet unbroken.
In the last two months in the midst of fighting a pandemic and social distancing, our community has seen an increase in violence. As recent as this past weekend, we lost a friend of Vanguard Collegiate, Mr. Chris Beaty, to senseless violence. As a school community, we are shaken but unbroken.
Adding to our collective community pain, we have seen a recent surge in police brutality and racially charged violence including but not limited to the loss of the lives of Breonna Taylor (Louisville), Ahmaud Arbery (Georgia), Dreasjon Reed (Indianapolis), and George Floyd (Minneapolis). Much like you, we want transparency, accountability and above all else justice. Protests to demand these things have grown violent across our country and in some cases been co-opted by those that have no interest in being heard, the First Amendment, or justice. We are shaken, but unbroken.”
Mr Love in DC for criminal justice reform march
Mr Love, Dean of Culture and Social Studies Teacher at Vanguard, and friends from Valpo Law School joined thousands of protestors seeking criminal justice reform at the march at the National Mall under the rallying cry “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks”. 2020 marks the 57th anniversary of the original March on Washington.
Here are some reflections from Mr. Love,
“Once my friends, from Valpo School of Law, and I heard about the 2020 ‘Get Off Our Necks’ March on Washington was announced, we knew we had to be present for such a momentous and historic event. In the wake of multiple instances of police brutality around the country, specifically George Floyd, Jacob Blake and countless others; we knew we had a duty to protest this problematic status quo of brutality in our nation’s capital.
Experiencing DC in a state of peaceful protest was awe-inspiring. There were hundreds of thousands of people there for the same reasons as my group from all over the country. We wanted to make sure we unequivocally showed the nation that we could not abide by such blatant treatment by those abusing their power.
This was one of the top experiences in my life to see people of every hue there to peacefully protest social injustices. Additionally, I am glad we got to show our Vanguard scholars what this time in their lives are characterized by. In this way, we not only speak about being a leader in thought, word and action; but we are modeling this behavior every day through this trip and through what we show to be doing when times of conflict rear its ugly heads. I hope showcasing this March during Community circle imprints a lasting legacy on what it means to truly #BeAVanguard!”
Authentic examination. Critical thinkers. Vanguards.
At Vanguard Collegiate of Indianapolis, we will have these important conversations. We will teach empathy, self-awareness and the importance of social justice awareness in our community. We will challenge our scholars to find their voices, to grow as leaders as well as scholars, and to adapt their lens — with careful intention and a consistent presence.
In 2020 there are multiple social justice issues at hand. We will address them all this school year: Black Lives Matter, criminal justice reform, voting rights, food security for all, healthcare for all, refugee crises, climate change and more. Our fifth to eighth graders are ready to know their world — and themselves — better. Critical thinking is a formative aspect of our educational model. So is the ability to stand up for what you believe.
Alongside our fervent commitment to educating our scholars — we inherently value our role in and ability to support our community. It is our honor. It is something we do not take for granted. This year, with all of the seemingly omnipresent challenges and heartbreak, we will continue our work together and rise as Vanguards. We are leaders in thought, word and action.
Vanguard Collegiate of Indianapolis is unapologetically focused on the academic success of our scholars, our fifth to eighth grade students. Situated in Central Indianapolis, we provide high-quality instruction, rigorous curriculum, and supportive character development. We create pathways to college success and to becoming leaders in thought, word, and action. Be a Vanguard, today!