Welcoming a New School Year with "Humility, Intentionality, and Purpose"

Headmaster Temba Maqubela welcomed faculty back with a chapel talk inspiring them to greet the new year with “humility, intentionality, and purpose,” recognizing the opportunity for growth and renaissance amidst the easing of COVID protocols. He also announced the elevation of three new faculty positions in support of inclusion, globalism, and other core values of the school.
“The privilege to stand here, healthy and maskless, is not lost on me,” he said during the traditional chapel talk for faculty that kicks off each new year. “Considering the six million people who have died from COVID, we are indeed blessed.” Returning to norms and traditional practices, he added, “will restore the sense of the close-knit community for which Groton is renowned.”
During his talk, he also warned faculty that progress cannot be taken for granted, acknowledging some of the rights being threatened in the nation’s divisive political climate while also stressing the need to reinforce Groton’s commitment to inclusion and belonging.
“How many of us have, with intentionality and purpose, taken our students to the Schoolroom to view the new busts and discuss their significance?" he asked. (Four new busts added visionary leaders of color and women to a previously all-white, male pantheon.) "Perhaps we should have a Roll Call where we intentionally teach students not just about the U.S. presidents but also about those who sought and dedicated their lives to transform the lives of all."
Explaining that inclusion, his signature emphasis since joining Groton in 2013, is moving along the continuum toward belonging—the focus of the school’s new strategic framework—the headmaster announced the new position of Dean of Diversity, Inclusion, & Belonging. The new dean, English Department Head Sravani Sen-Das, was previously Director of Diversity and Inclusion. 
Mr. Maqubela said he chose the title of “Dean” to “underscore the scholarly and academic approach that deans bring to anchor their work. In academia, deans are often change agents who help sustain or establish a culture.” Mr. Maqubela noted Ms. Sen-Das’ “exemplary” work, with strategically organized faculty groups, “to keep Groton’s curriculum dynamic rather than static.”
The new Dean of Diversity, Inclusion, & Belonging reacted with enthusiasm. “The new position will ensure that there is continuity in our efforts on inclusion and belonging,” Ms. Sen-Das said. “It validates and puts at the center the collective effort of many students and faculty who’ve been working tirelessly on inclusion. I am excited to keep the momentum going.”
Turning to Groton’s core pillar of globalism, Mr. Maqubela also announced Groton’s first Dean of Globalism and Experiential Learning. Mr. Das, a math teacher and coach, had been Director of Global Education, a position that began with a focus on orchestrating the school’s Global Education Opportunities (GEOs) and moved toward building a strategic, integrated program of global (and local) awareness. "I look forward to collaborating with faculty and students in this new position to promote a global perspective for our students and encourage interdisciplinary learning initiatives amongst our faculty," said Mr. Das.
Mr. Maqubela told faculty of a time, at a conference, when he challenged the assumed “East-West” power structure taught in history and other classes, asking to elevate “the North-South” dynamic (referring to geographic spheres). “Few are better suited to help us interrogate this nuance than Nishad Das,” the headmaster said.
The third announcement celebrated Kate Machan’s new position as Groton’s Dean of Strategic Operations. Ms. Machan previously was Special Assistant to the Headmaster and Director of GRAIN (GRoton Affordability and INclusion) Operations. “Kate has been the point person when it comes to institutional research, logistics (including around the pandemic) … and is also our resident legal scholar,” Mr. Maqubela said. She will work with trustees, the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs, the Business Office, and the headmaster.
“I look forward to collaborating with colleagues across campus to continue the advancement of Groton's strategic priorities, securing the gains achieved through the success of GRAIN and maintaining the focus on inclusion and belonging,” Ms. Machan said.
The opening chapel talk heralded the progress Groton is making on the continuum toward belonging for all community members, along with the much-anticipated move toward normalcy—“away from strict COVID protocols that made us stray from our community norms and returning with intentionality to being a close-knit community.”