Curtis Presents at 2021 People of Color Conference
Curtis School was honored to be selected to present at this year’s National Association of Independent Schools’ People of Color Conference (PoCC).
Our topic was “Building Capacity: Using a ‘Divide and Conquer’ Approach to DEI.” We were excited to be able to share the inspiring and meaningful diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) work that Curtis has undertaken in recent years.
About 300 people attended the workshop that was held on Zoom. In addition to Meera, Earleen, and Janet, attendees heard from a panel consisting of Fifth Grade Teacher Gina Favre, Past Parents Association President Monica Kirchner, parent and Curtis Trustee Erikson Albrecht, and sixth grader Sophie R.
We discussed how schools can share accountability for DEI learning among multiple community stakeholders in order to increase breadth of reach; and how schools can structure DEI initiatives involving faculty, staff, students, parents, and the board of trustees and delegate responsibility accordingly. To ensure that all of these efforts are coordinated and moving in the same direction, Curtis formalized a division of labor that clarified spheres of responsibility. The Director of Equity, Curriculum, and Instruction oversees DEI for teachers and students. This includes the faculty Anti-Bias Task Force and the anti-bias curriculum for students. Our Community Liaison for DEI is responsible for DEI efforts with parents and students. She oversees the Parents Group on Inclusivity and partners with the Parents Association about cultural celebrations for our community and with the Admissions Office for outreach efforts. The two roles share responsibility for student discussion groups as well as DEI division meetings with faculty, and they work collaboratively with Dr. Ratnesar to plan school-wide DEI training for faculty and staff. Finally, the board of trustees is committed to ensuring that it employs a DEI lens in its areas of responsibility for school governance.
While the “divide and conquer” approach from multiple angles continues to be effective in serving all aspects of the school’s aspirations for DEI, we realize that DEI work is never “finished.” We are committed to staying proactive and leaning into difficult conversations, as these conversations lead to growth as a community, clarity of direction, and the ability to create a space for people to share their lived experiences.