In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, I’ve been reflecting upon what it means to celebrate the holiday this year. For many of us, Thanksgiving will look and feel very different from past years. We are unable to come together to celebrate with family and friends as the nation is suffering from a widespread and deadly pandemic that has created economic devastation. As a country, we have collectively awoken to and are reflecting upon our role in the systemic oppression that people of color continue to face on a daily basis. We are experiencing turmoil during a transition of presidential power unlike any we’ve witnessed before. And, as I re-read Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, I feel shame that the origins of this holiday include the mass murder of indigenous people that has yet to be atoned.

And still…

There is so much good in this world. I see it in the selflessness of doctors, nurses, and supporting staff working around the clock to help those suffering from COVID. I feel it in the dedication my children’s teachers show for their students who are struggling to learn in a remote environment. I believe in it through the collective and continual efforts of those fighting for social and racial justice.

I am also deeply aware that feeling and expressing gratitude is what will get us through the dark times, and allow us to continue to fight for what is right in this world. Gratitude is the key that will provide us with the resilience and courage to do the hard work that is required to begin to heal and unite as a nation.

As we seek to engage in this work, we must equip our youth with the skills and mindsets to create a society that is more just and equitable. This is why the work of schools in fostering whole child development through positive and equitable school environments is so crucial. We need to ensure that every student feels a sense of belonging, is supported in developing their identity and agency, and has access to teachers who can foster critical mindsets such as cultural humility, empathy, and self-awareness.

This work requires transformational change within our education system and coordinated systems of support at all levels. Transforming Education is committed to working with schools and districts to prioritize whole child development and elevate equitable policies and practices that will support every student in their ability to thrive.

 It is, therefore, with bittersweet emotions that I announce my departure from Transforming Education at the end of the calendar year, after nearly 5 wonderful years serving as the Managing Director of Research and Learning.

Starting in the new year, I will be joining Teach for America, as their new Senior Managing Director/Senior Research Scientist of Social-Emotional Learning. I hope that through this new role, I will have an opportunity to continue to engage and collaborate with this amazing community, made up of scholars, practitioners, and policymakers, dedicated to ensuring every student has access to safe and supportive learning environments. I am grateful to have worked with such passionate and kind colleagues at Transforming Education, as well as other organizations, all of whom have helped shape my understanding of how to foster whole child development through equitable and antiracist practices.

My fervent wish, as we approach the upcoming holidays and enter the new year, is that we can take a collective breath and appreciate the goodness around us, then roll up our sleeves and continue the work of creating a nation in which all students are given the resources and opportunities to thrive. The time has never been more ripe for transformative change.

With deep gratitude and hope,


By Published On: November 25th, 20200 Comments

About the Author: Katie Buckley