Brian Jeffrey, assistant principal for achievement, Montclair High School, Montclair, California received this year’s NCTE National Intellectual Freedom Award for the organization he co-founded, STAND, which supports students and teachers in confronting stereotypes and celebrating diversity through school clubs and activates that promote unity.
Here’s what Jeffrey had to say when he received the award:
While I am honored to receive this award, I would be remiss if I did not accept it on behalf of the thousands of students that have participated in Socially Together And Naturally Diverse, better known as STAND, who are truly being recognized today. Since 1990, I have had the great privilege to work with STAND students at four schools in the Chaffey District in Southern California: Etiwanda, Rancho Cucamonga, Los Osos, and my current school, Montclair. At each of these campuses, STAND students have taught me the true meaning of fulfilling Dr. King’s dream to promote diversity, tolerance, and acceptance.
That notion inspired STAND students and I, 25 years ago, to create a university approved English multicultural elective class called “American Mosaic.” This class exposes students to culturally diverse authors who, for too many years, were invisible in textbooks, perhaps one of the worst forms of censorship. What strengthens the curriculum of American Mosaic is that it was built on the recognition that within any community there are those who may disagree with others’ beliefs on how to live their lives, but that disagreement should not mean to disparage or to discriminate. Likewise, STAND’s goal is to accept other people’s right to be different, and that difference is not a threat to our freedom; rather, it is our fortress.
STAND was founded on Dr. King’s principles, and it is in his legacy that we must refuse to remain silent in our quest for equality. Most importantly, STAND is aware that we cannot be good people unless we speak for those who do not have a voice or whose voice needs the support of others in order to resonate. As Dr. King implored many years ago,“We shall have to repent in this generation, not so much for the evil deeds of the wicked people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.”
Therefore, on behalf of the good students in STAND who refuse to be silent, and to the good people present here today, as well as the thousands around the country who speak in one loud voice for equality, thank you for this honor.