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Community Conversations: Dive into DEIB

 

by Melinda Kaufman, Lower School Director and Tim Campbell, Middle School Director

 

Liz Paige, Director of Ethics and Community, joined us to discuss DEIB at McGillis. Here is the Zoom recording (31 minutes), our presentation, and below are key takeaways from the conversation. 

 

When we talk about belonging versus fitting in, let’s remember:

  • Inclusive spaces means creating a space where more people have the opportunity to feel like they belong.
  • Fitting in takes a lot of energy from the individual. Belonging may take special effort from the community, but it requires a lot less energy from the individual.
  • The people who create the norms of a group/environment have the responsibility to consider who feels they belong & who is simply fitting in.

 

Highlights from the School’s DEIB Journey:

  • In 2018-19, the School completed the Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism (AIM) Study. Two themes came out of the survey: (1) faculty/staff were uncomfortable talking about race, and (2) faculty/staff wondered about how to navigate our Jewish identity, values, culture given that we aren’t a Jewish school.
  • Based on the AIM study, we decided to focus on building our capacity to talk about race, and in 2019-20,  faculty/staff went through professional development on the topics of identify, implicit bias, cultural competency, white privilege and anti-racist pedagogy. We also sent a group of faculty to the People of Color Conference at NAIS for the first time.
  • The spring of 2020 brought COVID, the murder of George Floyd, and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter Movement. We entered 2020-21 with even more intention and energy. We opened The Learning Center to meet the needs of children with language based learning differences, a representative from Encircle visited our Middle School to discuss the LGBTQ+ community, and a group of Middle School students participated in NWAIS’ Student Diversity Leadership Workshop for the first time.
  • We hosted our first DEIB Author Visit with Carole & Jeffrey Boston Weatherford, and this year, we welcomed three authors as part of our DEIB author series: Kelly Yang, Kekla Magoon, and Saadia Faruqi. Our Board’s DEIB committee wrote an Anti-Racist School statement, which includes 7 measurable commitments to direct the School’s DEIB work.
  • We are excited for two upcoming parent discussion groups:
    • On Tuesday, April 26, from 6:00-7:30, we’ll host an in-person event on campus for parents of BIPOC students (please RSVP)
    • On Tuesday, May 3 from 6:00-7:00, we’ll host a Zoom for parents of white students who are allies

 

Our DEIB Curriculum

  • Liz is teaching the Pollyanna Racial Literacy curriculum in K-5 grades, which presents students with opportunities to examine and explore fundamental values related to identity, community, and justice. The curriculum ensures that students develop concrete academic and leadership skills that result in a more robust vision of social responsibility and global citizenship. Parents can check out the parent/guardian companion guide. The Middle School is exploring the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) anti-bias building blocks curriculum.
  • We continually examine our curriculum, novel selections, and units of study through a DEIB lens. Across all grades, our emphasis on Social Emotional Learning, building community, and creating inclusive spaces supports our DEIB work.

 

We recognize that diving into DEIB is an ongoing process and there is not a single destination. Our Jewish values, especially Derech Eretz (respect for all) and Tikkun Olam (repairing the world), provide a foundation for engaging in this important work, and we are committed to working toward an equitable and just world.

 

Join us virtually for our next Community Conversation on May 4 at 12 pm for a discussion on Raising Readers and Diverse Books.