Summer Blog Series: Highlights from The Bulletin (#6)

This Summer, we are sharing some of our favorite articles published this past year in The Bulletin. Enjoy! 

Diversity and Inclusion Update

Vanessa Lee based on an interview with Leslie Laboriel, Diversity Committee Co-Chair

When Leslie Laboriel and I met at the Café sharing warm tea on a toasty January morning, Leslie provided a glimpse into what the Diversity and Inclusion committee is up to this year.  Leslie has been a member of the community for the last six years.  Her first two years at GMWS were spent supporting a variety of activities.  During the second year, she realized how diversity of thought could benefit the GMWS community which is what motivated her to join the Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

Last year she welcomed an invite to become co-chair of the committee with Vicki Larson and Maskit Ronen.  The committee is willing to embrace the difficult work ahead by listening and learning from each other.  During meetings, the goal is to create a safe room filled with love and respect.  The committee corrects and supports each other as they continue to learn from one another and push towards full inclusion. 

This year the Diversity and Inclusion Committee will focus on the following goals:

·         Educate faculty/staff on the value that diversity brings, and the challenges to and urgency of being an inclusive community

·         Offer practical support for faculty

·         Improve support networks and advocacy mechanisms for current diverse students and parents

·         Involve students in the diversity and inclusion work

·         Evaluate the committees impact to the community

What has the committee accomplished this year?

Supported student activism club in chartering a bus to the Women’s March on Jan 21 in Washington DC.

The march provided an opportunity for our students to exercise their democratic right to a peaceful expression of their opinions.  They created powerful posters and experienced firsthand the results of grass roots organizing.

Helped create the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Assembly

Diversity Committee Co-Chair and High School Science Teacher, Maskit Ronen, headed up a sub-committee of parents, teachers, and staff to create this collaboration of works from the grades.  The assembly was performed on Tuesday, January 16th in Rose Hall.  The Second Grade performed a hymn and the entire school sang “We Must Overcome”.  Music played a significant role during the Civil Rights movement because it provided motivation during long marches, psychological strength against harassment and brutality, as well as a peaceful way to pass the time.  The third and fourth grade recited Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” from the balcony.  There was a eurythmy performance by two seniors, Utchaa Williams and Alexander Allen-Walden, to the song, Can U C the Pride in the Panthers, by the late rapper, Tupac Shakur.  In a moving demonstration, the sixth grade recited “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The afternoon culminated with the visual presentation of the “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington DC.  Mr. Karl Frederickson, a retired Green Meadow history teacher, told the audience how the “I Have a Dream” speech was originally unplanned.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. read a scripted speech and when he finished, singer Mahalia Jackson cried out, “tell them about the dream, Martin!”  The iconic “I Have a Dream” speech is one of the most famous and moving speeches in our history.

Advocated for and achieved a professional development day in March 2017 on gender diversity

We are excited to welcome Benjamin Davis from The Ackerman Institute for the Family to our campus to  deepen faculty and staff understanding about gender fluidity and working with trans and gender-fluid students.

Support for faculty on culturally responsive pedagogy

We shared with faculty/staff the presentation that Vicki gave at the June 2016 AWSNA conference to help them identify and articulate personal and institutional challenges, and develop a shared language and framework

The Diversity and Inclusion Committee created an extensive resource list for teachers for Black History Month.  The list contained links to web-sites and reading materials to support the teachers of all grade levels.

Dr. Weldon McWilliams IV, a young community organizer in Rockland County, will attend High School Week to commence Black History month.

March 5 – 7:  Undoing Racism Training at Rockland Community College

Green Meadow has committed to having all teachers, staff and Board members participate in Undoing Racism Training within three years of joining GMWS.  Currently twenty-seven people have attended the training

Undoing Racism was developed by the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, which is an organization focusing on the understanding of racism and its historical roots as well as why it persists and how it can be undone.  When Leslie Laboriel attended, there were about 80 participants from a variety of backgrounds including social work, education, law enforcement, and legal.  She found the training extremely informative, transforming, supportive, and engaging.  She left with a feeling of what is possible after being rejuvenated.

Families of Color Lunch – March 5th

The Diversity and Inclusion Committee will have their second annual Families of Color Lunch on Sunday, March 5 in the High School common room.   Families of color are invited to socialize, connect and share their cultural experiences.   Our goal is to inspire people to share resources and support one another. 

What are we working on for the remainder of the year and beyond?

·         Each member of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee will complete the Harvard University Implicit Association Test (IAT) surveys to identify hidden biases; they will use the results to have open conversation about individual findings.

·         Deepen connection to Otto Specht School

·         Focus on recruiting and selection practices