Thursday, December 1, 2011

People of Color Conference and Student Diversity Leadership Conference

What an amazing day we had today! This morning was the kick-off of the National Association of Independent Schools’ People of Color and Student Diversity Leadership Conference, hosted at the Convention Center in Philadelphia. The day started off with tremendous inspiration from the AFS Choir who used their voices to bring about hope and aspiration for the 4,000 educators, parents, and students in attendance. Click on the videos below to hear their beautiful voices led by Jason and Stephen. (Had a glitch in the editing, so they start the same, but are different. Check out the size of the crowd, by the way!)

This conference is momentous for several reasons, particularly for us here at Abington Friends School. First of all, the conference comes at a particularly salient time in our work, with a critical number of faculty and students engaging in the work of learning about, experiencing, and understanding diversity and inclusion in our community for the past 4-5 years. As a result of that work, we had more than fifteen faculty and student presenters at the conference sharing the lessons that we have been learning and facilitating discussions about race, ethnicity, gender and other core components of our individual identities.

Secondly, our own Crissy Caceres, one of four co-chairs for the POCC/SDLC, has worked tirelessly for the past two years to bring leadership, vision, and direction to this conference. Her efforts to develop the theme, programs, structure, and workshops of the conference allowed everyone to immerse themselves in this important work.
I still remember the Lower School faculty at this exact time a year ago, collaborating with Crissy together in the lobby for hours after school to create the theme of the conference: We the People: Painting a New Mural of Community, Updating Our Status – A Declaration of Interdependence.

Finally (for now), the conference highlights the impact of the work that students are and have been engaged in during the past few years. Led by Toni, Cyndi, and other faculty, Upper School students are taking part in this important work to challenge themselves, develop new perspectives and become the new leaders for our world. Listen to noted author and keynote speaker Wes Moore’s invocation of the meaning of education and what we can do to make a difference in our world.

His writings in The Other Wes Moore serve as a catalyst for reflecting on how our thoughts and actions can impact and change lives. Lower and Middle school students are deeply entrenched in this work as they spoke for two hours about the lessons they have been learning about race and identity in a workshop presented by Jane and Dave late this afternoon.

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