Update from the RVA Leadership Team
July 16, 2020
Recently, we have communicated our desire to listen and change as a school in the area of racial justice. Some have felt that this is too little, that our statements are weak, or that things are changing too slowly.
The murder of George Floyd in America at the hands of police was horrific and inexcusable, and has highlighted the need for more discussion about racism and an examination of needed changes around the world, including at RVA. While we are encouraged that our discussions with recent and older alumni/ae indicate that overt issues of racism at RVA have generally decreased over time, we are still far from where we would like to be. We do not want to sit still. We do not want to be silent. We do not want our students of color to experience inequity or harm within our school community.
In keeping with our graduate profile, we desire to help our students live as lifelong learners and relate well toward others. Furthermore, we affirm our commitment to our belief statements, including the following tenets:
- Each person is a unique reflection of the image of God and has been given unique gifts and abilities.
- A vibrant Christian faith is demonstrated to others through loving words and actions of service that stem from a Christ-like attitude.
- Maintaining strong and balanced family and interpersonal relationships is essential to fostering a healthy school and ministry environment.
- Genuine community requires an environment where diversity can be appropriately expressed and validated, while unity in the body of Christ is maintained.
We acknowledge our failures in living up to these statements. As we continue to listen and learn, we must also begin making changes in areas where immediate action is possible. RVAʼs Leadership Team invites you as students, staff members, parents, alumni/ae, and the RVA community to continue to speak into where weʼve gone wrong in the past, where we are going wrong today, and how you would like to see us move forward to restore those we have hurt and to uphold the dignity of every person. Please enter into this discussion with us by sending your insights and ideas to Deputy Superintendent Peter Wilson at [email protected]. If your feedback involves a child safety issue, please send your message to RVAʼs child safety officer at [email protected].
As we pursue change, RVAʼs commitment to racial equity is as follows:
RVA commits to upholding the full dignity of all people, rooting out interpersonal and structural racism, righting injustices, and restoring those who have been harmed. We will deeply invest in the flourishing of people of every race and ethnicity, in particular our Black/African community and other people of color.
Our recent and current action steps include the following items. We welcome your feedback on all of them.
-In 2017/18, racism (along with gender equality, bullying, sexual harassment, and several other issues) was identified as a probable area of concern for RVA. In response, we hired an independent consultant to conduct a school culture audit of those areas in 2019. The consultant concurred that racism (among other areas) is an issue at RVA, and recommended action steps to begin remedying this issue. We distributed the Culture Audit report to our current students, parents, and staff members, and we recently posted the Culture Audit and resulting Action Steps on a social media group for alumni/ae to view. The consultant is scheduled to return to RVA for a review during Term 2 of this coming school year.
-As robust dialogue on issues of racial equity is occurring within our alumni/ae community, we will maintain communication with and gather ideas from this group as we establish additional action steps. We will also further develop this discussion with our current student body.
-Africa Inland Mission, the parent organization of RVA, has begun to evaluate its historical and ongoing involvement in racism. Future changes AIM enacts will drive further change for all of its regions and subsidiaries, including RVA.
-RVAʼs school board has instituted executive limitations ensuring that the school examines how to increase the diversity of our staff. We feel that this piece is crucial in enacting racial equity and shaping healthy perspectives of race and ethnicity on our campus. Because of the volunteer (unpaid; must raise support) paradigm of our missionary staff, this is not as straightforward as it might first appear. We would love to hear your ideas on this matter in particular.
We know that these steps are just the first of many long-overdue changes. Please send us your ideas for further courses of action.
In sum, we the Leadership Team at RVA want to listen, learn, grow together, and take action with our school community to rectify racial inequities and uphold the dignity of each person for the glory of God. We invite you to join us in this pursuit.
The RVA Leadership Team
Letter from Superintendent Mark Kinzer
June 5, 2020
Dear RVA students, families, and staff members,
As an institution, we affirm the inherent, God-given dignity and value of every person irrespective of race or ethnicity. We are grieved by both recent acts and endemic trends of racism and state-sanctioned violence against people of color around the globe, which have become particularly salient in the United States right now.
We commit to confronting and dismantling racism wherever we encounter it, beginning in ourselves. As a vital part of the RVA community, we implore you to join us in prayerful, unflinching self-examination, as well as outward action guided by the Lord’s imperative to His people in Micah 6:8 — that we act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.
We are thankful that a recent audit of our school climate has illuminated for us areas of inequity and pain that we must continue to remedy as we seek to honor our students, our RVA families, and ultimately the Lord. While we have taken initial steps to address racial inequality on our campus, we also know that systemic patterns of injustice will require extensive, sustained efforts to rectify. We ask that you pray and work with us toward this end.
In Isaiah 1:17, God commands us to “learn to do right, seek justice, defend the oppressed.” Thank you for your commitment to help RVA become a place of unequivocal safety for all and a people who reflect God’s heart of mercy and justice.
Rift Valley Academy