Levey Day School is a safe place to be a child. Not only in the caring and nurturing ways we often associate with safe spaces but also because its community honors and celebrates the differences that make humanity wonderful.
Our son Hugo’s first school experience was not at Levey, and it opened our eyes to the unfortunate realities of growing up brown in a state that is 98% white. I picked Hugo up from his first day of kindergarten and was met by a wall of four sandy-haired, fair-skinned boys.
“What is he?” demanded the first boy.
“Is he a little Japanese boy? Because I think he looks like a little Japanese boy,” said the second.
“He’s an American boy,” I tossed back, instinctively on the defensive.
“Yeah, but what is he? He told us he’s Indian but I don’t believe him,” added the third boy.
I turned to Hugo, who had joined us, and asked him if he had told these boys he was Indian.
“Yes,” he calmly replied.
“I thought it was funny,” he said.
Parenting makes our hearts do strange and amazing things. At that moment, my heart swelled with the pride of a mother who sees her five-year-old son use humor to find self-protection when faced with ignorance. At the same time, it cracked with the force of knowing that this conversation would repeat itself throughout my son’s life. Recent events and escalating hate-filled rhetoric have made our family even more committed to finding safe, inclusive spaces for our son.
At Levey Day School, my son sees a better reflection of the world. He spends each day with children of many different races, ethnicities, religions, and family structures. Children and teachers at Levey do not see him as “other” but rather as Hugo – a friend who loves Pokémon and Perfect Peach tea, a student who is strong in reading and struggles with subtraction, a boy who uses art class and free writing to share his pride as a Korean-American, and a classmate who is fun to kick a ball with. Our family is thankful for this safe place where our son can learn about the world and his place in it.
Larissa Crockett is the Assistant Town Manager for the Town of Scarborough and a board member at Levey Day School. After spending years reading, attending many plays, and teaching classes in things she loves as a homeschooling mom, she is now the proud parent of a Levey second grader.