Parent Education Series – Episode 2: DEI at High Meadows
By: Danielle Wright
Watch the video above then read the corresponding blog post below.
At High Meadows, we believe that diversity, equity, and inclusion are a vital part of developing global citizens. That is why we were proud to unveil a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Curriculum Guide to support our faculty as they help students develop an equity lens through which they see life.
This summer, HMS teachers Kate Stoessel, Paula Williams, and Danielle Wright created a DEI Curriculum Guide to assist teachers of all grade levels in incorporating the ever important work of diversity, equity, and inclusion. On our first day back from winter break, our faculty and staff participated in critical conversations initiated by Terra Gay, Director of Culture and Equity and Drew Charter School in Atlanta. That day’s conversations simultaneously brought our community closer and provided strategies to engage our students in conversations on identity, race, and gender.
This year our pre-kindergarten through 3rd grade teachers are introducing our students to concepts of identity and openly celebrating difference instead of shying away from it. From books like Colors of Me to the Beautiful Skin Song, from My Princess Boy to Under my Hijab, from exploring physical abilities to deconstructing gender stereotypes in fashion – exploring identity gives children language to understand and appreciate who they are. That appreciation of self leads to greater understanding and empathy for those who are different from them in visible and invisible ways. It also allows us to fulfill our 6th guiding principle: “We understand, respect, and appreciate differences within our community, enabling us to be compassionate, responsible members of our global society.”
Our 4th through 8th graders are exploring race and gender, which is inevitably woven into various units throughout the year. Our curriculum guide provides resources to further explore gender equality and stereotypes, systemic and institutional racism, human rights and more. Exploring the historic and current oppression in our country in age-appropriate ways, initiates students thinking to find ways in which they can be changemakers and be active participants in the country they want to see. This aligns perfectly with our mission statement which specifically says that “We empower each [student] to be a compassionate, responsible, and active global citizen.”
Our diversity statement predates our curriculum guide by almost a decade, but it provides the very foundation on which we stand to do this difficult, yet imperative work.
The High Meadows community values and supports diversity in all its dimensions, including but not limited to each person’s unique combination of race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical ability, learning style, religious beliefs, political views, perspectives, and life experiences.
By embracing diversity, we expand our understanding of others, stimulate our own learning and growth, and connect with one another and the world. Moving beyond simple tolerance builds a safe, positive, and nurturing environment that expands each individual’s enduring sense of belonging and significance.
We are committed to do the work, not just now in the light of a racial awakening in our country but as a recognition that diversity, equity, and inclusion is part of who we are. Social justice is an inherent aspect of progressive education, an aspect that we will not turn our back on. Along the way, we expect mistakes, obstacles and confrontation. As with all important work, we will continue on the journey together – as a community striving to make our school, our community, and our world a better place for all.