Glendale Unified School District leaders met with Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church, on July 25 at the request of the Western Diocese to discuss recent issues impacting the district and local community.
GUSD Board of Education President Jennifer Freemon, Board member Nayiri Nahabedian and interim Superintendent Darneika Watson spoke to Derderian about the Board’s plans to continue conversations with religious and community leaders to address disinformation, build trust and find ways to work together to ensure all students and families feel welcome in the community.
“In GUSD, we know that our diversity is our strength and respect that our students, employees and families represent a wide range of religious beliefs, values and political views,” said Freemon. “We must work together to embrace each other’s differences and ensure our schools continue to be positive, welcoming spaces where every child can learn and thrive. We were honored to meet with Archbishop Hovnan Derderian and look forward to further conversations with the Western Diocese and other religious and community partners as we continue this important work.”
Derderian agreed with Freemon, saying: “We highly value the constructive dialogue with GUSD. Our ultimate goal is to foster a healthy collaboration between GUSD and parents, ensuring the well-being of our beloved children. Education, being an interdisciplinary process, thrives when administrators, educators, parents and students actively participate and work together.
“To achieve the most fruitful results, it is of utmost importance that we nurture mutual respect and understanding,” Derderian added. “As expressed by one of the universal church fathers, we must stand united in essentials, which in this context is our obligation and commitment to our children’s education, while being understanding in non-essentials, and uphold respect for all, including various faith-based traditions.”
First published in the August 5 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.