By Lindsey Kundel, Director of Communications & Marketing
Anthony Kelley rejoined the Taipei American School Community (albeit from afar) to lead a half-day workshop for Grade 9 students on identity and emotional management on October 13. The workshop was generously funded by a donation to the School and the TAS PTA Grants program.
Grade 9 students have historically spent this day - which is the same day as the PSAT testing for Grades 10-11 - in advisory or with the Dean of Students office playing team-building exercises, but this year, the administrative team decided to use the time to better align our students with the school's larger JEDI initiatives.
Anthony Kelley is a former University of Washington football player who found a calling that had nothing to do with athletics. After playing football at an advanced level, he left the sport after college to become a leader in social change and educational leadership. Over the last two decades, he has created workshops and outreach programs to address internal and external conflicts that arise from institutional and systemic racism.
This is the third time Kelley has worked with the TAS community. He first visited campus last March for an in-person faculty meeting, co-led with middle school teacher and alumnus Weston Cooper on the Black Lives Matter movement and some historical comparisons between American and Taiwanese racial history.
He then returned to our campus in April to work with upper school English literature students about their definitions of and experiences with diversity and inclusion, as part of the students' larger unit goals to understand intersectionality and institutional frameworks behind pieces of literature.
His latest visit was, unfortunately, conducted on Zoom due to Taiwan's pandemic protocols. Kelley greeted the students from his home in Michigan leading them through a number of engaging activities including a brief introduction, watching a documentary on his life, brainstorming questions to ask him, and a very honest question and answer session where he answered many student questions modeling the type of behavior he would teach in the next session.
Kelley's workshop intentionally blended the school's JEDI priorities with its emphasis on helping students learn to prioritize their own well-being, focalized on his own life's experiences.
Kelley's life is the subject of a short documentary, "A Journey Through Conflict & Identity." It centers around his early years, his remarkable football career at the University of Washington, his later work in South Africa, and some foundational moments related to reconciling with his formerly estranged family members.
The final two parts of the morning's workshop were dedicated to what he calls "modeling reflection and emotional control behavior" along with creating student identity webs.
In his documentary, Anthony talks about tools he uses to manage his emotions. In particular, he highlights the importance of mastering one's breathing and movement, which he calls "reflection at its core." When a student is able to learn to use their breath, their body movements, and their mental focus to help increase blood circulation, concentration, and emotional management, these things, in turn, can increase a body’s ability to be healthy.
Ultimately, he hopes all TAS students can develop wellness practices to better manage their effort, time, and energy spent on the stresses of day-to-day life.
Upper school principal Mr. Andrew Lowman is committed to scaffolding the school's JEDI work with all its students. "Diversity, equity, and inclusion are important in every school," said Lowman. "We understand that our students need caring adults to help build an awareness of, navigate, and speak out against acts of injustice and exclusionary behaviors and speech."
This month all upper school students worked in advisory to review the schoolwide JEDI community commitment. This work with Mr. Kelley is the first of many lessons for our Grade 9-12 students, and we encourage parents to continue this discussion with their children at home.