Laura Wilt is President of the St. George's Parents Group and sits on the Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee. She is mom to 2nd grade and Kindergarten students at St. George's, as well as a baby at home. She is the System Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Ochsner Health.
As a child, I loved school. I loved my friends, teachers, the library, the big playground, everything! I never noticed that I looked different from most of my classmates, nor did I ever feel like the school wasn’t “mine.” However, in second grade, I thought for a moment that I might not belong.
I vividly remember being on the playground when a couple of kids pulled the corners of their eyes and started saying “chin chong” to me. At first, I didn’t even understand what they were doing. I’d never seen anyone do this before. Slowly I realized that they were making fun of how I looked. And looking around, I realized that I was the only person with brown skin. And the only person with slanted eyes.
I grew up in a rural suburb of Kansas City. Adopted from South Korea by white parents, I was the only minority in virtually every room, whether classroom, restaurant or Sunday School room. I had a wonderful childhood with a loving family and great friends, many of whom I’m still close to today. Upon graduation I set out to “see the world,” making my way to New Orleans to attend Tulane University.
I had always loved school, and Tulane was no different. Fast forward to today, and I consider myself a life-long learner, lucky to participate in a variety of executive education programs. So when I first started looking for schools for my own children to attend, I was thrilled to find a school with small class sizes, focused on educating the whole child-- one that would help to instill a love of learning for my kids. St. George’s met all of these criteria and more. But I wasn’t necessarily prepared for how much my children, and St. George’s, would continue my own education.
I have learned so much through the StG community over the years. Deep breathing techniques from our Early Childhood faculty, “Peace begins with me” (said slowly while lightly touching each finger to your thumb) from our counselors and naming your feelings from our Kindness Class curriculum have all been things that the kids have brought home and taught me. In turn, I have brought those practices with me to work and shared them with my teammates (“Peace begins with me” is a perennial favorite on my team!). And over the past several years, the StG focus on justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI), has also made its way home and into our daily conversations.
It hasn’t been easy to talk about race and racism with my 6 and 8 year old… or other grown ups, for that matter. But I know how important our collective JEDI education is, and I am so grateful for StG for helping me navigate it, both with my children and with our community as a whole. Parents and families are such a key part of the community and particularly to inclusion – feeling like you belong. I know that at St. George’s my children celebrate differences. And if something akin to my own second grade playground moment does come up, I’m confident our administration, our faculty and our community will appropriately address it and help us collectively improve.
The St. George’s Parents Group is creating a JEDI committee of parents committed to elevating our understanding and continuing our own life-long learning. We ask that you join us in this important work. You can volunteer for the JEDI committee, as well as many other Parents Group opportunities, by filling out this survey. We don’t have all the answers, but we will persevere and try to do a little better every day, and we welcome you to join us on our journey.
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