Diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging have been at the forefront of the HRS Professional Community’s (PC) minds this year and everyone on campus has participated in meaningful and unique ways. From the broader community’s support of Diversity Day to smaller opportunities for growth and professional development, the community has acknowledged and embraced the chance to learn.
E+I Learning Pod
For the past two years, Johára Tucker has been leading a small group of professionals in a monthly E+I Learning Pod to hold authentic conversations about DEI topics and apply the learnings into their classrooms and communities. The goal has been to shift from “intellectual to practical” as we widen our group of culturally responsive and antiracist practitioners. Said one group member, "[This group] reminds me to try to see things from other peoples’ perspectives and to not assume that others experience the world in the same way that I do. More specifically, it reminds me to consider the question of equity when establishing classroom policies and practices." Adds another, “I appreciate the freedom that we have to take our conversations where we want to go, as deep as we want to go. It has been liberating to speak in a group setting and truly feel grace in moments of discomfort and missteps.”
In December and January, the entire Professional Community watched the film, “American Promise,” an award-winning documentary filmed over a 12-year period that follows the experiences of two Black boys through the prestigious Dalton School in New York City. This enlightening film provides an intimate look into the boys’ different paths—from kindergarten through high school graduation—and presents complex truths about race, privilege and opportunity.
In a follow-up discussion with Dr. Keith Hinderlie, the Professional Community discussed how the boys experience at Dalton is applicable to Head-Royce today and explored meaningful questions:
- How do we care for the boys who stay [at Head-Royce] in all their varied humanity?
- How might we approach equity and inclusion work with humility, a growth mindset and an understanding of shifting identities?
- Where can we continue to push ourselves to make the Head-Royce community one that is more open and inclusive for all?
While different things resonated with the various community members, Dr. Hinderlie uncovered two big themes: (1) bias hides in gray areas; and (2) there is an unconscious perception that black and brown people can tolerate more pain. Dr. Hinderlie left the community with thought-provoking insight and concrete strategies to support people of color in general—and Black and transgender boys in particular—in the Head-Royce community.
Additionally, a number of teachers and staff virtually attended the White Privilege Conference earlier this month and nearly two dozen (22!) participated in the People of Color Conference in December. These conferences are rich in discussions and provide eye-opening opportunities to connect and apply academic learning in DEI to the day-to-day practice of teaching across disciplines and divisions.
From large group professional development opportunities to small group meetings, the entire HRS Professional Community is actively engaged in our DEI efforts in significant and individual ways.