Welcome and introductions: The name has been changed from “Faculty Diversity Committee” to “Faculty and Staff Diversity Committee” to be more inclusive and signal that the committee is open to all members of our faculty/staff community. After introductions, individuals had the opportunity to share why they were interested in the committee. Participants commented that they wanted to be a part of the change happening; that they had always wanted to get involved but felt this was a good time to do it; that there is a renewed excitement around DEI and they wanted to be a part of it.
Goals for the meeting were shared:
- To gain an understanding of shared and individual interests
- To align interests with one of the three focus areas
- To produce an action focused list of how we can address, support and/or advance diversity, equity and inclusion in our professional community
Mission and purpose: We asked big questions around “For whom is Park a great community?” Do all people feel this way? Some? Do some leave their identities at the door? Do some feel fully engaged at Park? Who gets to experience Park fully? Who only experiences some of Park School’s community?
Project Ideas: Shalini Rao presented the three areas were would explore in this meeting. For each group, we framed questions around “Strengths, Weaknesses, and Opportunities.” Each group had a scribe who wrote information on the chart paper. What follows is a list of brainstorm items that the groups developed. These groups included:
Opportunities for Programming – examining learning opportunities outside of the classroom
- partnering with different grades in workshops
- having speakers who can come to all divisions
- have theater, dance and art programs with age appropriate talk backs
- replicate MD/UD programs in LD
- draw from our parent body to share knowledge
- willingness to work cross-divisional
- big spaces such as gyms and dining room
- need faculty time to get to know each other’s interests
- harnessing the enthusiasm around DEI programming
Focus on Sense of belonging – staff and faculty support/engagement; retention; ally work for underrepresented faculty and staff identities
- affinity groups
- purposeful book groups
- “host” partners for new faculty/staff
- interactions between faculty and staff
- F&S time for DEI connections without students (full PD day)
- exploring sense of belonging in large groups/small groups
Focus on Curriculum and Pedagogy – professional development and dialogue focused internally
- building on previous work
- report back to colleagues after a PD day/conference
- connect to real time current events
- TIME to have discussions in our schedules
- tangible goals and sharing of them
- rotating presentations weekly/monthly
- all faculty/staff celebrations unveiling of div book (diversity?divisional?) and what was already done
The group then shared out key “takeaways” of what we could do. Participants shared that they could individually ask others “What is this like for you? How do you experience Park?” and make time to make connections; affinity/social grouping can come together, there just has to be a way to make it happen; to continue the excitement around DEI work.
Peace and Park,
Park School is a family school.
What does that mean to you?
For some, it may mean that a Park School education has been a part of your family. Perhaps you graduated from Park. Maybe a sibling, a parent, or even a grandparent graduated from Park School. Maybe a distant relative went to Park. Or, like in my own case, maybe you are a parent and your child is a student at Park!
For some, a family school means that we are a community that makes you feel at home. Maybe it means that when you walk in the doors, people know your name, your likes and dislikes, and can see how much you have grown here at Park School. Maybe you’ve seen your leaf on the new metal-frame tree at the entrance of the building and you feel like a part of this larger Park family.
For some, Park’s excitement around family involvement is what makes us feel like a family school. Whenever possible, we invite parents and families to volunteer at big events like the Chop-a-thon, get together for bingo night, or celebrate SpringFest together. Maybe you have chaperoned a trip or come to Park for one of our faculty-led workshops.
And, there are people who experience all three of these “family school” characteristics!
One special way that I think about Park being a family school is the connection that we make between your school-home and your family-home. We invite parents and families to be an integral part of conferences, of scheduled visits to the classroom as special guests, and to meet other parents and families at new parent dinners or class socials.
For the past few weeks, I have been partnering with the Park school librarians to create an opportunity to strengthen the home-and-school connection. We are very fortunate at Park to have an incredible library staff who are so committed to making sure that we all have opportunities to read literature from diverse authors, about diverse topics, and in all different age and grade levels.
Together, we have put together lists that align with “identity months.” For example, in September, we worked on books with Latino and Hispanic themes; in October, we focused on books that included issues and representation of Rainbow families; and in November we will focus on books with Native/First People themes and authors.
How might you use these lists?
- Check out the books from the library. The books on our Park School list are all available here in our library.
- Create a gift-book list. Send the list to your family and friends and ask them to purchase 1 book from the list to give as a gift. Or, select a book from the list to give as a special gift to a friend.
- Read aloud. Check the book out of the Park School library and pick 1 book for read aloud time in your home. Ask your child questions like, “What are two ways that this child has or does the same things as you? What are two ways that this child has or does different things than you? What part of the story made you feel happy? What part of the story made you feel sad? What lesson do you think the character learned at the end of the story?
Here are some great books that are already being used at Park School in the classrooms:
Pre-K, K, I
I Love My Hair
Take me out Yaku
Fire Engine Ruthie
My Princess Boy
Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match
Grade 2, 3, 4, 5:
Happy Like Soccer
Layla’s Head Scarf
Oliver Button is a Sissy
Let us know if you have read any of these at home! We’d love to hear from you!
“But, I just don’t have any more time in the day and curriculum to add one more thing.”
How many of you have said this or heard this? Here at Park, teachers have always included aspects of diversity into their curriculum. In some of our grade level teams, issues of diversity, race, immigration, and identity are key anchor points. For example, one grade level focuses on immigration. Another grade level focuses on diversity in the continent of Africa.
Many of our teachers are taking small actions to make a big impact with diversity and identity. Recently, at divisional meetings, our Lower and Upper Division faculty went through an exercise where they were asked to come up with “hooks and do-nows” or make little changes in their lessons to be more inclusive of diversity.
What was fun about this exercise is that teachers were instructed to, “NOT think like a teacher. Please think like a learner, a student, and a receiver of information.” Why? Because, too often, as teachers, we think about what is not possible — not enough time, not enough room, not enough resources. When we think as learners, we are excited by the possibilities and the opportunities to broaden our engagement.
“Think like a learner.”
In teams, faculty were given notecards with different subjects on them: English, Math, Science, Reading/Writing, Language. For lower division, we gave them additional cards with time-periods like “Morning Meeting” or “Buddy Time.”
courtesy of WheelDecide
In a very Wheel-Of-Fortune manner, we spun the wheel that had multiple categories of identities such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, ability, socioeconomic status, gender, and family structure.
Teams of teachers were asked to come up with as many quick activities, hooks or do-nows. In less than 40 minutes, these teams came up with over 212 different ideas!
Below are some highlights from these teams
- “Companies like Target are shifting towards removing ‘girls toys’ and ‘boys toys’ designations. Is this important? Why might some people support this? Why might some people resist this? Should other companies do the same?” (socioeconomics and gender)
- “Noah’s Ark Project: This is a story from the Bible about Noah’s Ark. Taking account gestation periods, animals on board, and amount of time traveled, how many new animals should have been born by the time the flood was over?” (religion and science)
- “What role does language play in shaping racial identity? Why do you think that?” (language and race)
- “When thinking about race, how might language serve as a connector? How might language serve as a barrier? What examples have you seen in our world/your lives?” (race and language)
- “Make a list of the things you use in a given day or week. Let’s add the cost of how much things cost in a day, week, month, year.” (math and socioeconomic status)
- “Read a book with multicultural characters or issues. Then, have students tell the rest of the story or what happened after the book ended.” (race and writing)
- “Write the characteristics of your family. Have your buddy write the characteristics of their family. Together, talk about the words you have in common and the words that are unique to your family.” (buddy time and family structure)
- “Develop postcard partners with another school that may have a different racial student demographic than ours.” (race and writing)
- “Put out sets of books that feature characters of color as the main focus. Have students do a turn-and-talk to summarize the stories to each other.” (buddy time and race
The goal of this exercise was to demonstrate the small actions that lead to big changes in our community. By engaging in little moments, we set the foundation to have bigger conversations throughout the year.
What are some of those “small actions” that you have tried in your day?
Peace and Park,