Cheryl Adenekan is Director of Equity and Learning at the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS).
It was June 2015 when I first stepped onto campus at an Episcopal School. I was immediately impressed with the sense of community embedded there. I soon realized how little I knew and understood about the Episcopal faith. I was raised Christian and always equated Episcopal churches and Catholic churches. I was wrong! Episcopal Schools ordain women and LGTBQIA+ priests, have explicit traditions of inclusion and belonging, and equate human reasoning with scripture and tradition. Now, this was something I could get behind.
I was soon introduced to NAES and found a larger community of like-minded people. To say that NAES got me through the COVID-related shutdown is an understatement. During that time the organization set up so many affinity groups and support systems that if I wanted to, every week I could participate in the community. This ensured that I never felt alone during a time of severe isolation.
Furthermore, through the relationships I built at NAES, I gained the confidence to reach for something more in my life. It was because of the support that this organization showed me that I was able to be confident enough to go for a larger, regional role.
As I begin the next stage of my journey, I will never forget NAES and its endless commitment to community and belonging.