As tradition would have it, 2017 has me in a pensive mood. Maybe it’s because of the hunger pains I’m experiencing brought on by my new diet, or the lack of oxygen to my brain from fasting. Nonetheless, I’m beginning this year very aware of the awful events that took place in our city this summer as well as the highly contested presidential elections this winter. In the past, I would not have been as bothered by things that are out of my control, but as life would have it, I’m a father now. There’s a little version of me (Ace Williams) running around Episcopal these days and he brings me great joy each day I get to drop him off at his class.
Last week it dawned on me, how blessed I am to have my son attend Episcopal. The education that I received as a student at Episcopal has afforded me so many opportunities that I figured the same would be true for my son, right? In that moment of reflection, I began to form a comparative analysis of his experience versus mine, 20 years ago.
When I first arrived on Episcopal’s campus (1993) I was introduced to a unique culture, steeped in tradition and pride that echoed the school’s identity. Behind the scenes were guardians of that culture who stood watch to protect the foundation of those traditions, only allowing the most necessary of changes to the status quo. Hold that thought…
My recollection of Ace’s first day of school (2016) was one of utter delight. I can remember dropping him off to a class of PK-3 students who modeled the make-up of a United Nations delegation! It was exactly what I wanted as a parent. I wanted Ace to be in a diverse environment, but above all, academic quality remained my top concern. In my day to day routine of working at Episcopal, I feel even stronger about his school environment. From the hi-fives to the occasional “Hey Ace” that we get from other students, there is a genuine love for my child that I can truly appreciate.
There is no question that Episcopal is becoming increasingly diverse. This diversity spans race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, geography, religion, and language. Acknowledging Episcopal’s diversity is an important step to living and learning with others in our school community. Can Episcopal improve? Sure, we can. Everything has room for improvement. I’m 100% certain that we are on the right path.
Back to my earlier point: I trust that the current “guardians” of Episcopal’s culture also see the value in its diversity. There is value in engaging different departments on issues regarding inclusion, diversity, and ways to improve workplace climate. Heck, I’d even consider myself one of the “guardians of the culture.”
Episcopal is a better, more diverse place than it was when I was a student. Race relations have vastly improved, but there’s still so much more to do. I can say that I’m happy to have my son here contributing to the diversity on campus. If you get some time, you should stop by and maybe you’ll see him running around. He’s the handsome, athletic one that looks like me, lol.
In all sincerity, as the celebration of MLK day approaches, I challenge us all to engage in real conversations about diversity so that we can see the value of judging people as individuals and not letting stereotypes shape beliefs about groups of people. I believe those conversations will make Episcopal an even better community in 2017. Happy New Year and Happy Mardi Gras!
Always a Knight,
Jimmy Williams enters his 6th year as the Episcopal defensive coordinator and Assistant Athletic Director. Born March 10, 1979, Jimmy prepped at The Episcopal School of Baton Rouge and was inducted into the school’s inaugural class in 2006.