Seven faculty members attended the National Association of Independent Schools' (NAIS) People of Color Conference (PoCC) where they explored the theme Equitable Schools and Inclusive Communities: Harmony, Discord, and the Notes in Between.
"This conference highlights the NAIS commitment to equity and justice in teaching and learning," said Headmaster David Faus. "We remain committed to empowering faculty and staff to provide an inclusive environment for all our students. I look forward to seeing how we can implement new strategies at St. Paul's."
The mission of the conference is to provide a safe space for leadership, professional development, and networking for people of color and allies of all backgrounds in independent schools. PoCC equips educators at every level with knowledge, skills, and experiences to improve and enhance the climate in their schools.
"PoCC is a transformational experience," said St. Paul's Director for Inclusive Community Simon Ponce. "This conference reignites the passion for transforming students' lives and serves as a reminder of all the work that is yet to be done. I come back to St. Paul's with a renewed sense of urgency to make sure all the voices of our School feel heard and valued. PoCC reminds us to revel in the laughs of our Lower School learners, the rambunctiousness of our Middle Schoolers who are still learning to navigate boundaries within themselves and among each other, and the poignant questions of our Upper Schoolers who are trying to figure out where they fit in the big scheme of things."
"Through my time at the NAIS POCC, I was called to seek deep truth in order to deconstruct the cheap, one-dimensional lenses of racial stereotypes and other forms of bigotry, and I return to our campus feeling empowered to bring this important work to my students," said Middle School English Teacher Bob Keal. "I was also reminded anew of the challenge presented to our community by our Inclusivity Statement. We are called to celebrate differences; to live in empathy and respect for others, and to fully embrace our School's founding principles in order to change the world. I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of a community that holds these values dear, and the School's willingness to send me and six of my colleagues to POCC shows just how deep our commitment runs."
Kindergarten teacher Andy Benton also attended the conference, who said she was blown away by the powerful connections of teachers and faculty from independent schools across states who attended with one common goal: how do we best support our school community as it relates to the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion. "The workshops, affinity group discussions, regional-state pow-wow, and the bond from the SP group will be ever etched in my memory. I want to thank the leaders of SP for understanding the investment and value of sending faculty to this conference."
Middle School Counselor agreed that the PoCC was a transformative, energizing experience. "It was an honor to be able to share the space with educators of color from across the country. I was able to learn ways to help our community move towards being more inclusive, equitable, and just. As an educator, I have a responsibility to use my privilege and voice to help develop stronger cultural competencies with the students and faculty. I want to help all members of our community feel like they are safe, valued, and heard. I feel empowered to help our community push forward on this essential, challenging, and, at times, messy, journey."