Hello! Happy fall to all of you!
It is hard to believe that it’s the second week of October. Yet, the temperature and foliage let us know we have landed in the heart of autumn in New York.
Diversity and equity work is in full swing, but before I go into the details, I want to introduce the newest member of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion office. I am pleased to welcome Sharina Gordon to Mary McDowell Friends School as our very first DEI Integrator! Sharina is a seasoned DEI practitioner, and brings experience and enthusiasm to their work here. Sharina will work closely with faculty, staff, and students on curriculum development and identity work, along with supporting our endeavor to become an anti-racist institution. If you’d like to connect with Sharina, you can send them an email at SharinaG@mmfsnyc.org.
Here are some highlights of the work we’ve engaged in so far this fall:
- Professional Development for Faculty and Staff. We began the year with a full day of equity work during orientation week in August. Our new faculty and staff participated in a six-hour workshop led by the Center for Racial Justice in Education. They were presented with foundational history on the development of race and racism in this country, examined how one’s racial identity informs their interactions with others, and how to hold conversations on race with students. Additionally, we were led in a workshop by the profound Dr. Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, an award-winning professor at Teachers College, Columbia University, whose research focuses on racial literacy in teacher education. Dr. Sealey-Ruiz spoke on facets of culturally responsive pedagogy and the process of self-excavation in order to deeply engage with the work of anti-racism.
- Affinity Groups for BIPOC Students. Sharina and I traveled with the upper school to Iroquois Springs, along with Co-Director of Admissions Tiffany Huggins, to lead an introductory session on affinity work and to reacquaint students with facets of DEI terminology. Middle school BIPOC students have commenced their monthly meetings, and the lower school BIPOC students will begin to meet in mid-October.
- Families and Equity Series. Now in its third year, the Families and Equity Series kicked off on October 4 with the New Families of Color Breakfast. The purpose of the breakfast was to foster community amongst participants, and despite the rainy, damp weather, those in attendance agreed that it was a warm and welcoming morning. Our next event is a gathering for parents and guardians who identify as LGBTQIA+ that will be held the evening of October 18 at 6:00 p.m. Please email either Sharina or me for more information. Reach us at SharinaG@mmfsnyc.org or Tateshac@mmfsnyc.org.
- NAIS People of Color Conference 2022. This conference, in San Antonio from November 30 through December 4, is back in person after a three-year online presence. We are taking six members of our faculty, staff, and administration this year, and we are proud to announce that upper school English teacher Cara Shaw will be presenting at the conference for the first time. I cannot wait to be first in line to attend her lecture.
Best wishes for a wonderful fall and a Happy Halloween!