Listening for the grace note
Since its inception more than three decades ago, the National Association of Independent Schools People of Color Conference (PoCC) has grown to include thousands of attendees and this year marked the 25th anniversary of the related Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC). Last week, nearly 30 Lab faculty, staff, and students—twice as many as ever before—attended the conference. The theme, Equitable Schools and Inclusive Communities: Harmony, Discord, and the Notes in Between, anchored the 2018 plenary and other sessions.
Says Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Priyanka Rupani, "This year, we doubled the number of adult attendees to PoCC. We wanted to honor as many applications as possible and increase our presence at the conference." Ms. Rupani served as a faculty member helping to lead the entire student portion of the conference.
PoCC is designed to equip attendees "with knowledge, skills, and experiences to improve and enhance the interracial, interethnic, and intercultural climate in their schools, as well as the attending academic, social-emotional, and workplace performance outcomes for students and adults alike."
For the high schoolers, SDLC focuses on self-reflecting, developing cross-cultural communication skills, designing effective strategies for social justice practice through dialogue and arts, and learning the foundation of allyship and networking principles. Six U-Highers attended—Aman Arain, Mayher Kaur, Ioannis Nikas, Lea Runesha, Destiney Williamson, and Iris Xie—chaperoned by High School Dean of Students Ana Campos and Assistant Director of Schools Carla Ellis.
Following a very Deweyan model of presenting one's learning as a way of ordering, solidifying, and making meaning of knowledge, the High School students had a "teach back" session with the Lab faculty and staff who attended the conference about what they learned and the initiatives they would like to bring back to Lab as a result of their time in Nashville.
"During Saturday morning's student-facilitated conversation, many of us made commitments to bringing this work back to Lab. PoCC/SDLC has given us tools and resources to enact changes that make Lab an even more inclusive and equitable place," says Ms. Rupani.