CA student interns support the Robbins House
Over the summer and into the fall, three Concord Academy students completed internships at the Robbins House, a center of African American life and history in Concord, Mass.
Amanda Shih ’21 says helping to plan collaborations with local organizations allowed her to “connect with Concord (both past and present) in ways that I hadn’t been able to before.” Her projects included organizing a virtual “Activism and Art” forum with Concord Art, a local center for the visual arts, to discuss Keith Morris Washington’s exhibition and activist art, gathering resources on activism and art for the Robbins House website, and coordinating the Robbins House’s exhibition at the Umbrella Arts Center.
The Robbins House has been closed due to the pandemic, so Jared Rhee ’22 helped tell its story online, through virtual tours and educational videos. He learned a good deal while editing them. “A lot of the historical information about the Black residents of Concord who lived in this house I just didn’t know,” he says. “We usually talk about history on a national level, but there’s so much we can learn based on local history.”
Both Jared and Isadora Goldman Leviton ’21 had taken a course in U.S. African American history taught by CA’s History Department chair Claire Nelson, which led to their interest in this internship. Isadora says, “Claire pushed me to think in depth about African American history, but also about how white people should be engaging with it.” Last spring, she studied global leadership and politics while in South Africa, where she says she was “forced to have conversations about how white people could unlearn a lot of the tropes we were educated with.” This summer, she was one of several CA students to organize weekly demonstrations at the Concord rotary in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. And for the Robbins House, she coordinated a social media campaign to engage local teens.
A display inside the Robbins House about some of the house’s former inhabitants.
Although she had attended Concord-Carlisle public schools, Isadora hadn’t known about the Robbins House, which sits opposite the Old North Bridge, before coming to CA. In creating social media posts, most of them educational and some aiming to spur young people to action, she particularly enjoyed learning about Susan Garrison, whose brother Peter Robbins purchased the house. The only woman of color among the charter members of the Concord Female Antislavery Society in the 1830s, Garrison risked her life to oppose the slave trade, also petitioning against the annexation of Texas and the removal of the Cherokees from their homeland in the southeastern United States. “There have been people pushing the boundaries for a lot longer than we know,” Isadora says.
Amanda Shih ’21
Jared Rhee ’22
Isadora Goldman Leviton ’21
More Stories from CA Magazine
CA welcomed two new Wilcox Fellows for the 2020–21 academic year: Zora Vermilya in English and Shamime Shaw in the film program. Begun in 2000, this fellowship program identifies and nourishes talented teachers from groups underrepresented on independent school faculties. Fellows are mentored by a colleague, and they workshop pedagogy with both experienced and new faculty members. Half-time teaching loads allow fellows to put energy into developing expertise and skill in their fields and engagements across school life.
Robert Munro, Concord Academy’s new dean of academic program and equity, is tasked with envisioning how equity, sustainability, and social justice can be woven into the fabric of CA’s rigorous academics; building institutional capacity among leadership, faculty, and staff around diversity, equity, and inclusion; and inspiring a community already engaged in this work to delve deeper. Read this Q&A to learn how Munro is approaching his charge to help CA evolve in accordance with its mission.
In a typical spring, Concord Academy’s senior projects presentation is a brief, intense event, as seniors armed with poster board, models, and PowerPoint slides pack into the Ransome Room or SHAC atrium, ready to share with faculty and fellow students what they have learned about topics like sustainable eating or mass incarceration. In spring 2020, when school went remote, seniors had to adapt their presentations for an online audience. For some, that meant out-of-the-box thinking, and videos instead of posters. For others, it meant a process — and final product — even better than they originally imagined.