Letter to the TR Community- Response to Police Violence and Systemic Racism

June 4, 2020


Dear Two Rivers Community,

We are furious. Amidst navigating the current global health pandemic, we were again horrified to see brazen acts of police violence against Black men and women, along with the ongoing racial profiling, violence, and xenophobia against people of color. We hold Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Christian Cooper, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and so many others in our hearts and our minds. June is typically a time for end-of-year celebrations, passage portfolios, and reflections. But we end this year with a keen awareness and acknowledgment of our complicated and painful realities.

When we say "We Are Crew", this means that one person's pain and struggle is all our pain and struggle. Earlier this week, over 100 Two Rivers staff members came together to observe 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence. This is the amount of time that a white police officer in Minneapolis, someone with positional and racial power, knelt on the neck of George Floyd, a Black man, unjustly causing his death.

The horror of this action and the institutional racism that it embodies has sparked outrage and ignited protests across our country. Right now in D.C., and in communities across the world, people are taking to the streets to stand, kneel, and march in acts of solidarity, protest, and resistance against the racial power structures that have fed the long and growing list of names of Black Americans whose lives were violently cut short by racism.

The world continues to tell our beautiful, talented, joyful, creative, thoughtful, intelligent, and curious Black students – that they are dangerous, criminal, marginal, and not worthy. The world continues to tell our dedicated, passionate, innovative, devoted, kind, brilliant, loving Black staff – that they are dangerous, criminal, marginal, and not worthy. This is unconscionable and unacceptable.

To our Black students, families, and staff: We know you. We see you. We appreciate you. We love you. And we will not stand for the continued assaults on your dignity and safety.

Two Rivers has always been driven by our mission: to nurture a diverse group of students to become lifelong, active participants in their own education, develop a sense of self and community, and become responsible and compassionate members of society. This moment makes painfully clear the urgency of becoming a school that can protect, empower, and challenge each and every one of our students and staff through this mission, especially the Black members of our school community.

While we are looking inward at how we can support our students and staff through this moment, we are also looking ahead to our plans for this summer and next school year. In the coming weeks, Two Rivers will kick off the work of articulating what it means to be an anti-racist organization and creating a Strategic Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Plan that will ultimately be incorporated into our broader goals and planning. This work continues the journey we have been on as an organization to embody equity. We look forward to working collaboratively with our staff to plan and implement this work, and will communicate our progress with the larger community.

Though it has been hard to find moments of optimism over the past two weeks, we have found hope in our alumni. Students who spent their elementary and middle school years at Two Rivers and have now graduated from college or are in college and high school have been raising their voices, protesting, and taking action to bring about change. They are lifelong, active participants in their own education. They have a vibrant and strong sense of self and community. And they are proving, every day, that they are responsible and compassionate members of society. TR alums – we see you, and you give us hope and inspire us to do better and more.

We ask you to join with us as we do the transformational work of fulfilling our mission with a sustained focus on racial and social justice and becoming a model school community worthy of our Black students.


With fury and hope,

Jessica K. Wodatch

Founding Executive Director

Kristina Kyles-Smith

Incoming Executive Director