Dear MMFS Families,
I hope this note finds you well. I’d like to share with you some highlights from the National Association of Independent School’s (NAIS) People of Color Conference (POCC) which took place in Nashville, Tennessee from November 28 – December 1, 2018. Since 1986, faculty, staff, and administrators from independent schools across the country, including U.S. territories, and Puerto Rico, gather together annually to support and honor the complex dynamics required to be an educator of color within our schools. Thanks to the support of MMFS, I was able to attend the conference this year, along with Middle School Teacher, Nicole Watson, and Upper School Administrative Assistant/Board Liaison, Lakeysha Jones.
”Equitable School Communities: Harmony, Discord, and the Notes in Between” was the theme of this year’s conference. During the conference Nicole, Lakeysha, and I, along with over 6,400 other attendees, participated in a myriad of workshops that covered the topics of diversity, equity, social justice, equitable hiring practices, governance, leadership, and more. We had the privilege of hearing several important speakers, such as children’s advocate, Marian Wright Edelman, and journalist, Lisa Ling, who spoke to the audience about how valuable it is to learn the stories, culture, and life experiences of those who are different from us. We also enjoyed performances by the world-renowned Fisk Jubilee Singers, a student a cappella ensemble from Fisk University.
In addition to attending workshops and clinics at the conference, we also toured the University School of Nashville, a K-12 local independent school on the campus of Vanderbilt University, and had lunch at Woolworth on 5th. In the 1960s, students from local HBCUs, such as Fisk University and Tennessee State University, protested for the right to dine at this Woolworth’s lunch counter in downtown Nashville. They were met with violence, insults, and more during those turbulent moments in our nation’s history. As we crossed into the bustling establishment full of busy wait staff and hungry customers waiting to indulge on southern comfort food, such as biscuits and gravy, and sweet tea, we felt honored. Despite the crowds of people and smells of fried goodness wafting in the air, the significance of being able to walk in, sit, and order at-will, was not lost on us.
As you and your families prepare for the upcoming holiday season, I wish you peace, joy, and time to enjoy each other this Winter Break.
Director of Diversity and Equity