Today I attended the 2nd Annual Families of Color Conference hosted by DFW Private Education. Clariden was a proud sponsor of the conference alongside such schools as Greenhill, Hockaday, Jesuit, Lamplighter and St. Mark’s to name a few. (https://dfwprivateedu.com/focc/)
The conference’s keynote speaker was Dr. Kenneth Chapman who shared his research on diversity and specifically the challenges faced by black boys within school environments. Dr. Chapman aided the audience in realizing that being able to have conversations is where the opportunity for change begins. He stressed that it’s crucial for students to be culturally competent as the knowledge one gains, mindset, perspective and understanding of those not like oneself is key to having success in business, relationships and life. Schools where there is diversity – diversity of thought, beliefs, race, economics, etc. promotes one’s individual cognitive and social/emotional growth. It promotes understanding and acceptance. Diversity promotes growth mindedness.
Dr. Chapman also challenged us to think about diversity encompassing such things as geographical location/where you’re from and birth order. Giving the example that one’s birth order influences how one interacts within the classroom.That your geographical location influences how others approach and communicate with you. For example, if you’re from New Jersey it’s best if communication happens quickly. In comparison, if you’re from Oklahoma it’s best if the rate of speech is slower. This is all diversity and it’s all good.
One of Clariden’s missions is to provide a global learning experience, as we want our students to have a full understanding of others – of those not like them. We want them to be culturally competent. Is there more that we can do to promote diversity – absolutely. My head is spinning with ideas on how to promote conversation, assure that all students and families have an equal voice and are “at the table”. Dr. Chapman stressed that it’s important for students to have mentors and teachers that look like them. Clariden has some work to do in this area.
As Dr. Chapman said today, “diversity is messy business”. No matter how messy we cannot afford to be fearful to have conversations, to open our hearts and our minds to others’ struggles, stories, passions and dreams. All students deserve the right to a great education and we’re fortunate that independent private schools, like Clariden, not only embrace diversity but are actively working toward equality for all.
It was great to engage in conversation today with fellow colleagues. It was wonderful to be in a room where educators and those passionate about education came together to learn from each other, to explore tough questions, and to know that we’re all in this together for the betterment of our students. As Dr. Chapman stated, “Diversity is for everyone”.
Sallie Wells, Head of School