Director’s Update: Being Called to Act. Finding Places to Pause. Preparing to Pivot.

Published on June 8, 2020

This is a close-up image of a woman named Stephanie Cawthon. She is wearing a black formal jacket with a reddish pink top inside.

My original intent was to address the end of the school year and NDC’s planned break later this week — and I’ll get to those. What I want to emphasize first and foremost is our message of solidarity against racism and with members of our community who are suffering. We seek ways to engage meaningfully and to take steps to address racism in our personal and professional circles. Each of us is called upon to act, because this fight against injustice and inequality demands it, and our future depends upon it.

We here at NDC could not be more grateful for your tireless work to support, guide, and build each other up as we strive to reach the goal of #DeafSuccess.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which came in early spring as a tidal wave that changed everything, continues to wreak its havoc, with a disproportionate impact on communities of color. The end of the school year is now upon us, bringing with it our usual place to pause — and bringing with it a unique opportunity to pivot. Yet this year’s pivot will be unlike any other we have experienced as a community and as a nation.

What does this pivot need from us?

  • To move from short term fixes to long term strategies. 

  • To cultivate relationships and networks of support.

  • To be creative and flexible in how we plan and, if need be, un-plan.

  • To remember, as always, people over projects. 

This pivot will require us all to dig deep into our collective wisdom and resilience. But to do this, we cannot simply throw ourselves headlong into the to-do list, especially considering the uncertainty in our schools, workplaces, and homes.

Before we pivot at NDC, we need to make sure this pause is truly a temporary stop in action. The past few months have taken an enormous amount of our energy, both physical and psychological, as I’m sure it has for you. With that in mind, NDC will be paused for three days this week, with our offices semi-closed on June 10-12.

Pressing this “pause button” is a chance for NDC staff to rest, regroup, and reset. I deeply hope that you also find a chance to hit the pause button — for a few hours or a few days — to replenish your energy, strength, and resolve for the days ahead. Then, we can all set our eyes upon the horizon and prepare to pivot to a new school year unlike any other.

We will be here with you for what is to come, no matter what it may be.

Most sincerely,

Stephanie W. Cawthon, PhD
Director, National Deaf Center 

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