When people ask me what being in divinity school is like, I usually take a deep breath and end up saying: “It’s important.” Earlier this week, someone asked me how B-BOLD was going, I found myself saying: “It’s important.” B-BOLD is the fruit of long, lonely, and—yes—important months and years I have spent in divinity school thinking, reading, and writing about the role that emotional agility can play in strengthening the life chances of our future citizens. B-BOLD is an emotional empowerment curriculum that SSYP’s very own Director of Youth Programs & Priest Associate, Liz Steinhauser, and Tim Crellin, our Founder, Vicar, & Executive Director, kindly trusted me to pilot and roll out at the St. Stephen’s site this summer.
Some of America’s most courageous thinkers and loving writers—especially John Dewey, Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, Martha Nussbaum, and Melissa Harris-Perry— have inspired the project behind B-BOLD. B-BOLD’s premise is simple: learning how to understand, manage, and, ultimately, transform your emotions is a progressive capability that can empower you to be all you can be. When I say “you,” I imagine anyone who has had—and remains likely—to come to terms with forms of emotional pressure that threaten to keep them small, make them feel worthless, and shut them down. Many a story, including my own, suggests that the weight of emotions does not spare any human life. Nor does the wealth of information and transformation they contain.
I cannot yet see what or how much connecting elementary and middle schoolers with the power they have to transform impatience into self-control; anger into calm; shame into self-love; and self-doubt into self-belief in the St. Stephen’s sanctuary has unleashed. But deep in my heart, I do believe B-BOLD has empowered our children to embrace a trajectory of 21st-century possibility.
Oh the children.
The children have done wondrous things for me. They have persuaded me of the tremendous impact one can make by intervening thoughtfully and ferociously in early childhood education. I have insisted on adding a proviso to love the children to our love contracts since the B-SAFE team started to gather in May. I have loved the children. And I have also found that I need their love as much as they need mine, and maybe more. They have renewed, rejuvenated, and healed me, beyond my wildest imaginings.
I often think of divinity school as a place where we can dream of possible futures. Piloting B-BOLD at B-SAFE this summer has afforded me the privilege and responsibility of delivering possible futures with and for our beloved, darling children. And that is good, important news. B-SAFE is important.
By Sitraka St. Michael, Academic Team
Malagasy by birth. Chicagoan at heart. Episcopalian by choice. In love with all the beloveds @ SSYP. Sitraka is excited to incubate B-BOLD, an emotional empowerment curriculum, with the Academic Team at St Stephen’s during B-SAFE this summer. When he is not in divinity school, Sitraka can be found running or biking along the Charles, hosting dunch (i.e. dinner+lunch), or writing something about progress and the emotions.