This is the “Back to School” issue of City Serene as September is traditionally the time when students settle into their books and classroom routines after a long unstructured summer. With the arrival of fall, school like everything else these days is far from routine and little about the world is serene now. My previous blog post on using Norse mythology and the outdoors as an experiential classroom during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as drawing historic parallels from literature and early 20th century history to these times of a pandemic, racial unrest, and climate change, seems prescient. 

  Those of us who came of age during the cultural and political revolutions of JFK, MLK, and Reagan understand the political dividing lines over cultural, racial, religious, and economic inequality along with the political dividing lines drawn over police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as a resurgence of anti-Semitism.

 After the Holocaust, the Jewish people said, “Never Again!” The recent death of George Floyd, the riots in Charlottesville, along with the shooting victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue left us saddened and angry. As we grieve over tragic repeats of the pre-civil rights era and pre-World War II era, we again cry out, “Never Again!” And after school shootings around the country, students showed solidarity by crying out, “Never Again!” Tragic events of this magnitude should not be happening in a 21st century enlightened American democracy. At the same time, the social and political progress made in previous decades to protect America’s most vulnerable citizens and give American citizens equal protection and equal rights under the law must continue unabated. 

  As students have embraced digital technology, current events have entered our school curriculum and discussions with greater intensity. Studies at school not only focus on the major conflict and tragedy of prior world wars, the Holocaust, and 9/11, but are now about systemic racism in America, climate change, bullying, gun violence, and now a pandemic. Exacerbating a country divided, on edge, saddened and scared, students are experiencing new levels of insecurity. 

  While many school districts and university campuses across the country remain virtual this month in order to protect students, teachers, and faculty from exposure to Covid-19, I have been online sharing commentary and academic pedagogy with fellow graduate students in the Master of Teaching program at North Carolina State University. I am posting some of my online responses on this blog related to creating equitable classrooms here, and the use of multiculturalism and arts in the classroom here that I hope educators, parents, and caregivers will find useful in their own teaching practices whether virtually or in-person.  In the faith section, scholar and author Rahel Musleah whose Jewish family lived peacefully over the course of seven generations in India shared insights about her experience on the continent with women at Beth Meyer synagogue in Raleigh this September ( posted here). I hope that the advice and wisdom articulated by the scholars in this edition will be of service to those who choose to live peacefully and wisely. 



Julie Russo 

Publisher, City Serene News Service