I wanted to take a moment to recognize Dr. Norman Sauce III, principal of Chamblee Charter High School. Today I received a copy of the School Climate Letter (see below for both Spanish and English versions). Precipitated by this recent election and the general state of our country, he encourages his school community to remember the “pillars of our country’s democracy — tolerance, acceptance, and respect.”

I appreciate his thoughtfulness and openness, and I wanted to publicly thank him and the other administrators, counselors, and teachers — specifically Shervette Miller-Peyton and Deann Peterson — who I know have worked tirelessly to walk the students through this time.

As part of this process, CCHS held voluntary student dialogues during which students were able to work through their different emotions.

In the letter, Dr. Sauce states: “Our staff gained a first-hand understanding of students’ explicit feelings, observations, and recent school experiences. In these conversations, students reported feeling a range of emotions, including confusion, frustration, anxiety, fear, and anger. Some students shared unreported incidents of racist and religiously insensitive comments among students at school, on school buses, and in social media. We are now investigating those incidents, some first-hand accounts and others more general, to the best of our ability.”

This type of dialogue is something that Cross Keys High School also did after the election, and I think it is a valuable opportunity for students to be able to have a safe space to share their concerns and emotions.

School should be a place where students are able to process issues ranging from politics and psychology to values and ethics. If students don’t feel safe to explore and question and discuss these issues at school, then our education system is not fulfilling its obligation.

I applaud Dr. Sauce and his team for approaching the behavior and speech ignited by this past election season with discernment and care; and I hope that other schools in our district, state, and country will create even more spaces for students and faculty to wrestle through these difficult issues as our country tries to find a way to bring itself together.