Welcome Back from Pamela Chu-Sheriff

Welcome Back from Pamela Chu-Sheriff
Posted on 08/29/2016

Dear Putnam Ave. Community,

Welcome to those of you just joining the Putnam Ave. family, and welcome back to those of you just returning!

Looking onto the cusp of the Putnam Avenue Upper School approaching its fifth year of existence, it’s hard to believe how the past four years as a school community have flown by. And how things have changed! This September will mark the first time we will hold our first day of school in our new, state-of-the art building. Other first time events, from our Back to School Night/Community Cookout and Report Card Pick-Up/International Potluck Night to our school dances and musicals, are now annual traditions. In the age of testing, students and staff moved from the MCAS to the PARCC and back and forth again with aplomb. And notably, we will enter this school year proudly celebrating the fact that 50% of our staff are people of color and that our staff are also diverse—just as Cambridge is diverse—in regards to class, gender, sexual orientation, and religion.

As I reflect on the past four years and the years to come, I cannot help but also focus on recent events across the country that have brought an increasingly public eye to some of the discord, hate, and fear that still exists in our country today. I think back on my parent’s own story of immigrating to the U.S. from Taiwan four decades ago and how, though American citizens now, I found out only a few years ago that my parents had lived undocumented for a few heart-pounding years in New York City. I think of my husband’s father, who left Sri Lanka at age 19, a map of Europe in his possession and an indomitable will to survive at his disposal as he crossed through China, Iran, Turkey, and other regions before reaching his final destination of Germany, then was eventually sponsored to and settled in Canada. Earlier this year, my husband and I had the opportunity to travel to Sri Lanka to meet his relatives for the first time. I will never forget how my husband’s relatives, all devout Muslims, welcomed me, a Taiwanese American Christian, into their homes with open arms. If a country whose civil war ended only seven years ago could still manage to demonstrate human decency in abundance, how much more should we, as a school community at the very least, if not the city and country as a whole, be able to fully embrace our own diversity. 

It is with this mindset that I approach this school year, our core value of “passion” (defined at Putnam Ave. as “the pursuit of academic excellence through effort and the pursuit of social justice through recognizing the different experiences that come with race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and religion”) feeling as relevant as ever. 

And so, we invite all of you to join us on this continuing journey toward both academic excellence and social justice as we usher in what will surely be an amazing school year. 

With warmest regards,

Pamela Chu-Sheriff
Assistant Principal