Magazines and Special Reports

The Yield: Winter 2021 Edition

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Years ago, in my 20s, I was enrolled in a creative writing course. Once a week, I'd head to the small community college to sit with six other adults to learn more about self-expression through the written word. Our professor loved using "prompts," and each week's homework assignment asked us to respond to a question. The prompt that remains lodged in my brain, all these years later, is: "Tell about a place or time in your life where or when you felt yourself fully." Without hesitation, I wrote about becoming a boarding student at Westtown School in the mid- 1970s, when my father (enlisted in the Air Force) had been sent back to Vietnam to phase out war camps. The experience of joining an intentional Quaker community was positive for me from day one, and my connection to my school deepened as each year passed. Unlike so many high school seniors who approach graduation ready to move on, I grew anxious to leave as graduation approached. I had come to love my school community. I belonged there. My classmates and teachers had become my new extended family and have remained an important group that has carried me along, all these years later, in friendship and support. Belonging is such a powerful force in our lives. The clubs we join, the causes we support, and the friends we choose all become defining parts of our journey and help us seek our potential. When you belong to something, you feel deeply connected to it, and at the same time, fully valued for your unique gifts. To me, "belonging" has the potential to be each independent school's superpower. It's the promise that we make when families join our schools: to love their children, to create a second group of advocates for them, to support their journeys in school and beyond. For me, this was a promise fulfilled. Sadly for some of my classmates, it has been a promise unfulfilled. Throughout the summer and fall of 2020, I've read a number of school Instagram posts from Black alumni and students who were empowered to speak their truths following George Floyd's death. These stories have a common theme that is the very opposite of belonging. They tell of disrespectful behavior from figures in authority and feelings of displacement, loneliness, and isolation for students of color in our schools. This magazine issue is about how we continue the essential work of creating belonging—both now and in the future. We've asked schools within the United States and beyond to share their challenges, processes, and experiences in cultivating inclusive communities. We've asked DEI practitioners to share their perspectives about the state of DEI work in the independent school industry. And, we've asked students—the sole reason we all do what we do—to share what belonging means to them. As learning communities dedicated to justice, fairness, and progress, creating a place of belonging in our schools is the promise that we must seek to fulfill. Brené Brown reminds us that "a deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don't function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick." In a time of such elevated anxiety and uncertainty, the power of belonging is exponential. Go ahead, make it your school's superpower so that ALL students can experience the profound impact it will make on their lives. Heather Hoerle, Executive Director, The Enrollment Management Association Facebook: facebook.com/EnrollmentORG • Twitter: @EnrollmentORG • Instagram: @enrollmentorg • LinkedIn Group: The Enrollment Management Association • enrollment.org + Leaderboard Dear friends,

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