For the last three decades the National Association of Independent Schools’ annual People of Color Conference (PoCC) has been held in person. Like everything else, this year was different. Due to COVID-19 limitations, this year’s conference went virtual. Many asked, “Would it be the same? How will it feel to do this online?” I am happy to say that while we were on Zoom, the integrity and camaraderie and inspiration of being together very much remained throughout the conference.
Held from November 30 through December 4, the PoCC hosted NAIS schools from all over the United States and beyond. This year’s theme was, “New Decades, New Destinies: Challenging Self, Changing Systems, Choosing Justice.” Joining me this year at the conference were CFO Horace Knight, lower school faculty members Geleisa George and Heather DeLeon, Assistant Middle School Dean Suzanne Leake, and upper school faculty members Cara Shaw and Shobita Mampilly.
With over 100 workshops, master classes, equity seminars, affinity groups, keynote speakers, and a Social Justice Summit led by leaders from NAIS schools and leading practitioners in the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion, there was something for everyone to choose from for their growth and development.
Each year I am moved by the speakers who present their research at PoCC, this year’s Social Justice Summit keynote speaker was Lezley McSpadden-Head, mother of Michael Brown who was murdered by police six years ago. Ms. McSpadden-Head spoke to educators about the pain and emptiness she feels without her “Mike-Mike,” a family nickname for her slain son. She called on us to arm our students with the truth about race and police brutality in this country, and to provide our children with the opportunity to question the history and manifestation of systemic racism and the ways they can become active in dismantling it.
I am grateful to have shared virtual space and community with my fellow MMFS and NAIS community members this past week. NAIS’ People of Color Conference, even virtually, continues to be a space for people of color to grow, question, breathe, and continue the work of creating just and equitable schools for all of our children.
~ Tatesha Clark, Director of Diversity and Equity