Diversity and Inclusion
This is a guest blog post by Shanise Mark who is currently a third grade teacher at Ravenscroft and the leader of the Lower School Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
The Lower School Diversity and Inclusion Committee was established this year with the purpose of formally gathering a group of passionate educators together that would focus on how to best support and enhance the Lower School experience for all students. The committee is charged with many goals, but has a primary focus this year on researching curriculum and student exposure opportunities, in addition to planning special events and programs that highlight diversity and inclusion.
As the Lower School Diversity and Inclusion Committee Chairperson, I am thrilled about the exciting things we are planning for this year and look forward to learning and growing with the students, faculty, and parent communities throughout the year.
I think it is important to first redefine diversity as different. The most successful companies in our country are those that have a group of diverse employees. These companies are comprised of different people who have different skill sets, backgrounds and experiences, and different opinions and perspectives. These different people are able to successfully collaborate in order to accomplish company goals.
“Bringing the diversity of difference to team composition has significantly enhanced collaborative performance. The ability to think in terms of alternatives and apply the diversity principle of multiplicity has been equally productive” (Buchen, 2013).
The ability to collaborate and think alternatively are skills our students will need to succeed and thrive in our complex and interdependent world. By exposing our students to differences, they will be greeted with such an opportunity to develop and practice these skills. Helping even our youngest Ravens to see value in differences will aid us in having a more collaborative and respectful community and position them to lead themselves, lead with others, and change their worlds.
We will have our first Community Conversation of the school year on Oct. 22 at 8:00 a.m. in the Winston Library. Please join us in this safe space to engage in meaningful dialogue about diversity and inclusion as it pertains to Lower School students. The main objective of this first conversation will be to hear from parents about their hopes, concerns, and ideas related to diversity and inclusion efforts in Lower School.
Our fourth and fifth graders will participate in Mix It Up at Lunch Day on Oct. 29. This will be a time when students are encouraged to sit with someone new over lunch. Teaching Tolerance has launched a national campaign that, “Encourages students to identify, question and cross social boundaries. When students interact with those who are different from them, biases and misperceptions can fall away.”
Here is a quick look at just a few other opportunities for students:
Tree Talk focused on celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month
Tree Talk focused on leading with others and being culturally inclusive
Fifth Grade Lunch Book Clubs – Wonder by R.J Palacio
Fourth Grade Lunch Book Clubs- The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Chinese New Year Celebration
Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service
African American Quiz Bowl
The U.S. population will be considerably older and more racially and ethnically diverse by 2060, according to projections released by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Why should we discuss differences with our children and students?
How can we successfully teach our children and students about differences?
I. Buchen. (2013, April 8). Rescuing and Redefining Diversity as a Recruitment and Training Goal. Training Industry. Retrieved September 30, 2013, from http://www.trainingindustry.com/professional-education/articles/rescuing-and-redefining-diversity-as-a-recruitment-and-training-goal.aspx