This is a guest post by Karrah Lewis and Dante Johnson about the Lower School’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee and their efforts this year.

diversity word scramble 6

Suppose you have an apple and you have a pineapple. They are different, but similar. One similarity I can think of is that they both have the word apple in them. But they obviously look nothing alike. And I really like both of them. That could kind of explain diversity, I guess.

-Ravenscroft Lower School Student  

We began the 2016-2017 school year with a visit from diversity speaker and Seattle Girls’ School instructor, Rosetta Lee.  During this professional development experience, Lower School faculty reflected on three important questions:

  • Why do we engage in diversity and inclusion efforts? What is the value and purpose?
  • What do we need in order to further develop our cultural competence and nurture an inclusive and equitable learning community?
  • How will we accomplish the goals we set for our diversity and inclusion efforts this year?

The answers to these three questions helps to guide us in this important work.

Why do we engage in diversity and inclusion efforts?

Rosetta Lee’s words really resonated with us when she stated, “Cultural competence is an academic imperative!” She shared research from a national expert, Dr. Steven Jones, that stated, “socializing with individuals of different ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds contributes positively to a student’s cognitive and academic development, intellectual self-confidence and self-esteem. Academic achievement and a diverse learning environment are closely linked. Research findings show that diverse learning environments enhance a student’s complex critical thinking abilities.”

In order to fulfill Ravenscroft’s mission statement of “nurturing individual potential and preparing students to thrive in a complex and interdependent world,” it is imperative that we provide experiences which allow students to better understand their world and those in it, combat biases, and help all to feel welcomed and included. We desire to create a community that emphasizes the positive interaction of the greater community.

What do we need in order develop our cultural competence and cultivate an inclusive and equitable learning community?

Our Lead From Here initiative positions us for success with our diversity and inclusion efforts. Lead From Here builds from a core belief that every young person can be a changemaking leader through an emphasis on 15 competencies that include self-awareness, accountability, collaboration, cultural inclusivity, empathy, adaptability, and resourcefulness. We have this wonderful language and toolset to use with our young learners as they engage in learning experiences related to diversity and inclusion.

How will we accomplish the goals we set for our diversity and inclusion efforts this year?

We hope that our educators, students, and families will all experience the importance of this work. If we all enter opportunities for learning and growth in the area of cultural competence with an open mind and brave heart, we will be doing a wonderful thing for our community and world.

The Lower School Diversity and Inclusion Committee is a group of faculty and staff that meet frequently to lead the efforts of promoting cultural inclusivity in the Lower School. Through our collaborative thinking and discussions, the committee has begun to plan a variety of events and programs that will highlight diversity and inclusion this year. It is our goal that all students will embrace and celebrate our beautiful differences and similarities. As committee members, we are so pleased to share with you one of our upcoming events.

Mix It Up At Lunch Day! Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Kindergarten through Fifth Grade students, along with over one million other students across the country, will be participating in Mix It Up Day.  Mix It Up Day is a time set aside for the entire Lower School community to build positive relationships with others by encouraging students to identify, question, and cross social boundaries.

On this special day, we ask students to move out of their comfort zones and connect with someone new over lunch. It’s a simple act with profound implications. Tolerance.org states, “Studies have shown that interactions across group lines can help reduce prejudice. When students interact with others who are different from themselves, biases and misperceptions can fall away.”

Students will be eating lunch in the classrooms, and will need to bring a lunch from home on this special day. We encourage you to have a conversation with your children about the new friends they made and what they learned from this experience.

“Diversity is the mix. Inclusion is making the mix work.”- Andrés Tapia

“Ravenscroft believes that a diverse and inclusive community is an essential element of a rich and educational experience. We are committed to cultivating an environment in which all persons feel embraced and valued. Ravenscroft seeks to nurture respect for diversity in all its forms, through its policies, curriculum and programs.”

Karrah Lewis, Kindergarten Instructor (karrah.lewis@ravenscroft.org)

Dante Johnson, Fifth Grade Instructor (dante.johnson@ravenscroft.org)

 

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