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A Diverse & Inclusive Community
Children's Day School embraces and accepts the challenge to recognize, learn about and understand our similarities and differences. At CDS, we are consciously creating a community where everyone feels welcomed, empowered, responsible and safe to be themselves. We understand that creating this kind of community is an ongoing process, requiring that we embrace conflict and learn from our mistakes. All members of our community are taught and expected to use inclusive language, to challenge stereotypes, to stand up to discrimination and to promote equity.
Diversity in the Community
Building an inclusive and diverse school community at CDS involves creating opportunities for community connections and celebrations, engaging in challenging dialogue around equity and diversity, and reflecting on our school practices to promote an anti-bias and inclusive school culture.
The Committee on Inclusion and Diversity (COID), was created by the CDS Board of Trustees during the 2006-07 school year to develop a strategic plan to increase the diversity of students, faculty and administrators at CDS and to enhance an environment of inclusion, with a particular focus on increasing the recruitment and retention of underrepresented racial and ethnic groups at CDS.
COID strives to reach these goals by working with the admissions and hiring committees, but also by engaging with the CDS community in multiple ways to create a safe place where all people will want to stay and be a part of:
COID runs Parent Education Nights and Community Listening Forums for the adult community to discuss issues of socio-economic diversity, race and ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation, language and privilege.
Parents on COID organize Affinity Gatherings for Families of African Heritage, Families Built Through Adoption, Latino Families, LGBTQ Headed Families, and other affinity/cultural events.
Teachers on COID work on social justice curriculum for students, and also lead professional development with the faculty and staff around diversity and inclusion. They also lead student affinity groups that promote pride and community.
Diversity in the Classroom
“We must continually remind students in the classroom that expression of different opinions and dissenting ideas affirms the intellectual process. We should forcefully explain that our role is not to teach them to think as we do but rather to teach them, by example, the importance of taking a stance that is rooted in rigorous engagement with the full range of ideas about a topic.”
—bell hooks (Gloria Jean Watkins)
At Children’s Day School, diversity and social justice are embedded into the classroom culture as well as into the curriculum. Social Justice means not only treating people with respect and fairness, but also involves institutional and societal change that would offer equitable access to resources and opportunity to all people.
All teachers at CDS create classroom environments that promote listening, respect, empathy, responsibility and collaboration. Teachers strive to create anti-bias classrooms with books representing many cultures and identities, with curriculum that address issues of social justice, identity, and inclusion, and by teaching critical thinking skills and social responsibility.
What does this look like in the classroom?
Diversity in the Preschool Curriculum
We consciously construct a curriculum that provides an anti-bias education, defined by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) as “an active/activist approach to challenging prejudice, stereotyping, bias and the ‘isms’ in a society in which institutional structures create and maintain sexism, racism, and handicappism.” For example, on any given day you might see preschoolers:
Reading books that reflect a variety of races, ethnicities, genders and abilities including The Colors of Us by Karen Katz, The Family Book by Todd Parr, All The Colors We Are/Todos los Colores de Nuestra Piel by Katie Kissenger, Shades of Black by Sandra L. Pinkney, family-made and class-made books, and many, many more.
Listening to guest speakers who break stereotypes; for example, female firefighters, male nurses and people with differing abilities.
Participating in project work that reflects the variety of people who make up our world such as family share and parent activities, role playing, sharing family photos, introducing words and languages from families and teachers, looking at various cultural artifacts, tasting and cooking food from families represented in the classroom, and exploring ideas of equity and justice in the classroom and beyond.
Diversity in the Elementary Curriculum
In the elementary grades, students are eager and curious learners—they want to read and write, to add and subtract, to figure out the world and how it works. These years provide an important opportunity for teachers to build students’ empathy, their sense of fairness and their commitment to equity and justice. Some examples of this include:
Students role playing experiences of fairness and justice to talk about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement.
Discussing the realities of differently-abled individuals and assessing CDS’ accessibility for differently-abled people promotes student awareness about ableism and inclusion.
Reading a storybook about a child who does not fit into gender boxes to talk about gender expression and diversity.
Diversity in the Middle School Curriculum
The middle school years are a critical time of intellectual, physical and emotional change. At the same time, the reality is that there is tremendous external societal pressure to conform to some limited idea of acceptable sameness. So our teachers have the challenge—and the opportunity—to foster the empathetic imagination of our middle school students in order to reinforce ideas of equity and justice: that people do not have to be, think or live the same way (understanding and tolerance), that all people have a right to their differences (giving people “space”) and that the qualities and traits of one person are his or hers alone (avoiding stereotyping). A few examples:
Media studies classes that explore sexism, racism, classism and homophobia in our society.
Our robust community-based learning program where students learn through doing, gaining understanding of the power of taking community action for positive social change, and learning to value and appreciate people of all ages and means as citizens with talents and experiences to share.
- Students seeing themselves and others reflected in the world as they research mathematicians and scientists who are LGBTQ, people of color and/or women.