Diversity at SMA

Friends and Families,
This past week has been at the least interesting, and at the most – nearly – divisive. This week the leadership with the Sarasota County Schools released a document providing their guidance for gender diverse populations. Please understand that these are not policy, but rather a guiding document for schools to refer. I would like to set all of your minds at ease by expressing the following guidance from the SMA Leadership Team:
  • First and foremost, ALL cadets, regardless of race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion, gender and gender orientation, age, disability, marital status, and sexual orientation are valued as members of our community and will be treated with RESPECT.
  • Any type of harassment will not be tolerated, and any accusations of harassment should be reported immediately.
  • Sharing of personal cadet information is a violation of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.
With these understandings in place, and under the guidance of best practices and policies, the accommodations to be implemented in the case of gender diverse cadets are based on case by case circumstances by a team that considers the health, wellness, and academic success of all cadets impacted.
  • Gender diverse refers to the social construct that may include gender identity and gender expression.
  • The determination of accommodations for the gender diverse cadet will be determined by a team that includes the cadet, administration, parent/guardian, counseling, and an advocate if requested.
  • A plan will be developed that meets the privacy needs of the gender diverse cadet, as well as all cadets.
  • Uniforms will be issued to match the most consistently identified gender identity as determined by the team. This guideline is supported by JROTC protocol.
  • Restroom use will be determined and agreed upon by the team to ensure privacy and comfort levels of all cadets. There are multiple types of restrooms on each campus, to include; single use and traditional with multiple private stalls. These restrooms are for the use of all cadets, but if your cadet has a legitimate privacy concern, the use of the single use restroom may be made available at administration’s discretion. Any cadets have concerns for their own privacy should speak first with the Teacher, and any accommodations will be approved by administration.
  • Locker Rooms use will be determined and agreed upon by the team to ensure privacy and comfort levels of all cadets. Each locker room has privacy options available, and the scheduled use of locker rooms can be arranged to address any privacy concerns. Any cadets have concerns for their own privacy should speak first with the Teacher, and any accommodations will be approved by administration.
I cannot stress enough that each individual within our SMA family must at all times be treated with respect, as this is a foundational value of who we are. I fully trust the integrity of our cadets, staff, and faculty to value every individual and provide them with this respect. If you have any follow up questions or concerns, I would be happy to meet with you. Please feel free to email me at fred.fout@oursma.org, or make an appointment through the front office to meet with me.
SMA-LTC Frederick T. Fout
Head of School

Trisha Yearwood Kicks Off Inspire Project Speaker Series

Platinum-selling, Grammy-winning artist and best-selling cookbook author Trisha Yearwood challenged SMA cadets to exceed expectations as she kicked off The Inspire Project Speaker Series for 2018-19. Ms. Yearwood is known for her moving vocals, her love of storytelling and her delicious southern recipes. SMA cadets responded to the down-home and down to earth charm that has become a trademark in her professional life. The focus of this year’s campus-wide initiative is Project Equality and Trisha Yearwood was gracious enough to spend some time taking questions from SMA Prep cadets.

When asked why she picked music to pursue over other interests, Mr. Yearwood responded, “music picked me, I just knew I wanted to be a singer, but if I hadn’t become a singer I might probably have become an accountant”. Ms. Yearwood was simply always passionate about music.

What drives Ms. Yearwood to keep up with all her success? She admits to being very competitive even if she isn’t good at something. She credits her mom and dad for being a  risk-taker, and her sense of adventure in trying new things. Her dad is the reason she fell in love with music, played guitar and sang. Her mom was the driving force that let me know as a woman she could do what she wanted and be happy. Ms. Yearwood stated that her parents are her “heroes”.

As far as being a woman in business, Ms. Yearwood pointed out that there are some challenges but you need to work hard no matter what and don’t let any excuse get in your way. As she was entering the music business, she is thankful that she had Reba McEntire as her mentor to help navigate as Trisha Yearwood began her early music career.

Cadets also received some words of wisdom on time management. She admitted to not really have time for everything she has going on in her life. “There are baseballs in the air and some fall on the ground. I try to choose what I can do well and learn how to say no. You can’t be a people pleaser because then you won’t do anything well.”

Responding to the question of liking school or not, Ms. Yearwood gave an honest answer. “I hated it and I liked it. My mom was a teacher and she was my teacher in the 3rd grade in a very small school. I was a self-proclaimed nerd and an “A” student who got involved in everything.” She clarified that it was music that was what she had always loved to do.

A large part of what The Inspire Project is about is to offer young people 1st hand accounts of what it is like to pursue your dreams. Cadets are always curious if people who become successful ever had to deal with failure. Ms. Yearwood mentioned that she is competitive and doesn’t enjoy failure. However, a person begins to appreciate failures as the successes become sweeter. “Learning what doesn’t work is just as important what does work. It is what you do after that that matters.”

Perseverance is a character trait that many cadets work to build every day. Mr. Yearwood shared that she never thinks about quitting, but that the true answer is there are moments when you just want to give up. You get past those moments and deep down even with a bad experience you have to know you don’t give up.

Sharing her strong sense of humor made this a relatable and fun experience for cadets. Ms. Yearwood stated that if she were not able to sing, she might be in prison. Even though her cookbooks have turned into a completely different career she says that she would always pick music. “If I weren’t successful in other things, I’d still find a way to sing in my local honky tonk.”