As I write this feeling the emerging autumn breeze, I hope that you are all doing well. Throughout the last year, the ability to be virtual has allowed me more time for reflection
and consideration of the everyday experience of our educators. As I’ve watched protests, meetings, and conversations regarding education – it becomes clear how important your work is.
To that end, I would like to spend some time in our newsletter acknowledging you! I thank our IRT summer faculty for running a brand-new Summer Workshop, in which they developed their course materials to deliver virtually. I celebrate our alumni that are publishing new texts, including Summer Faculty member Aria Halliday, IRT ’11. I commend our educators, counselors, and school support staff for navigating back-to-school plans and communities. I also want to celebrate Monica Muñoz Martinez, IRT ’05 for her incredible work and its recognition by the MacArthur Foundation. Many IRT scholars look up to our alumni and the communities we support. It is thrilling to see your work championed and elected for a Genius Grant.
And finally, I hope we can all come together to send positive vibes to our current class. It is not easy to apply to graduate school during a typical year. Our current cohort is navigating many challenges to secure the future for the communities that we envision. To that end, please be on the lookout for ways to share your updates with the IRT community.
by Brittany Zorn, IRT ’13, Arts and Sciences Specialist, IRT
One of IRT’s greatest assets is by far our expansive network of alumni. Since joining the IRT team in 2016, I have had the pleasure of meeting, celebrating, and working alongside so many incredible scholars, educators, leaders, and artists through the IRT alumni family. Engaging with alumni on social media, alumni who serve as Summer Faculty for our Summer Workshop, alumni who sit on the Advisory Board, and alumni who reach back out to the program for one reason or another has always been an enriching part of my experience as a staff-member-who-is-also-an-alum. In 2021, I had the opportunity to work with our alumni in a new way, through the External SOP Advisor role. We sent out an invitation to serve as an SOP Advisor in our blog, on the IRT Alumni Network, and on social media (FB, IG), and I was heartened to say we received responses from more than two dozen alumni with an interest in the role!
Monica was named a 2021 MacArthur Fellow. The MacArthur Fellowship is unrestricted and unofficially known as the “Genius Grant.” The MacArthur Foundation considers that the fellowship “is not a reward for past accomplishment, but rather an investment in a person’s originality, insight, and potential.” Congratulations, Monica, on this prestigious award.
Monica Muñoz Martinez, IRT ’05 Photo credit: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
It may be hard to believe that in just 3 months we will welcome 2022. For many educators, 2020 was the year that flipped our lives upside down and forced us to (re)discover elements of ourselves as people, family members, teachers, and leaders. We tended to others before tending to ourselves and had little to no opportunity to stop and reflect about all that we had learned and unlearned in the months of a global health pandemic and the racial justice movement of our lifetime.
A year ago, I was a 7-year veteran principal in the nation’s capital and was launching the first-ever virtual school year. It was both exciting and unnerving and I struggled to find my new leadership voice in a virtual setting. My superpower was leading with love, justice, and vulnerability- everything else felt like a test or like I was functioning off gut instinct. Throughout the months, we heard scholars, organic intellectuals, elders, parents, and students alike say the same thing, “We can’t go back to what was normal. Normal wasn’t working for our Black and Brown children.” Families were officially seen and acknowledged as co-educators and the school and family partnerships were stronger than ever. We finally saw a light that felt bright enough to follow, one that would lead us to deconstruct, reimagine and rebuild a new (a better) educational system for our children. This was the chance and for a large part, it was not taken.
Besides her academic pursuits in the art history field, Leslie Condon, IRT ’21 (artist name Leslie Anne Condon) is a Boston-area visual artist and independent curator. Her upcoming curatorial projects include Collective Liberation, which Leslie curated as the Hopkinton Center for the Art’s Inaugural Kris Waldman Curator-in-Residence, on view from September 30 to November 11, 2021.