Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Updates

2018-2019

May

In the Lower School…

  • Students from Lillie May Carroll Jackson Charter School came to read to students at Brown Girls Rock during their meeting on May 1.
  • Akailah McIntyre read to Kindergarten (May 8) and 1st graders (May 3) about how great it is to celebrate different skin colors and hair types through the books “Colors of Us” and “Big Hair Don’t Care.”
  • Kindergarten has been doing a great job learning how to discuss differences, likes, and dislikes by practicing their use of appropriate language. They have also been focusing on how all of our differences make us unique. 
  • On May 20, upper school student Yuting Xie read to the 3rd grade a book about her Chinese culture and explained many customs.
  • On May 15, parents of students in the group “Brown Girls Rock” joined the meeting to read with their students and help them create portraits of themselves. Please come join us on June 3 for our end of year Brown Girls Rock celebration! We welcome any and everyone to attend! Click here to RSVP.

In the Middle School…

  • On May 2, the official Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah), Middle School students and employees read the names and ages of victims of the Holocaust from 9 to 11:30 a.m. They did so to honor their lives and pledge that we will stand against hatred, now and moving forward.
  • On May 7, Middle School teachers participated in a professional development session with Akailah McIntyre during which they considered their own identities and grappled with how their identities impact their teaching.

In the Upper School…

  • On May 1, the official Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) Upper School students and employees read the names and ages of victims of the Holocaust from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. They did so to honor their lives and pledge that we will stand against hatred, now and moving forward.
  • A few weeks ago, the Black Student Union sent students at Lille May Carroll Jackson School an invitation to submit essays about leadership to win a scholarship. BSU students have reviewed the essays and selected six winners. The students from Lillie May will attend morning meeting on May 21 to be awarded their prizes and will then have lunch with the club afterward.
  • At morning meeting on May 9, Brylen Hatcher informed the community that it is mental health awareness month and offered statistics for the community to consider regarding mental health. Furthermore, Julianna Brunn and Rebecca Zipper addressed the student body about another recent synagogue attack in California and violence in Israel and Palestine before leading the students in a moment of silence. Finally, Maria Ferariu gave a presentation about Romania, informing the community of facts about her native country and offering compelling images.
  • On May 10, students who identify as Jewish gathered with Ms. Schulz, Jewish Heritage Club advisor, to discuss what they’d like to do next year to have more conversations about Jewish Heritage within our community.
  • On May 21, Members of our Black Student Union presented Lille May Carroll Jackson students with scholarships for school supplies after the students were essay winners in the club’s “Funds for Future Leaders” Scholarship.
  • On May 15, students who are seeking to form an allyship group met with Lukah Callanan, who works with the non-profit Fusion Group, to talk about what they can do to be better allies for students of color. 
  • On May 22, 9th grade students spoke with Ms. Malfa about what empathy looks like, and how to hear other people across lines of difference. The conversation was based on the work of Brene Brown andthis video. Students engaged in one-on-one conversations and were also able to share their thoughts with the larger group.

In the Community…

  • June 3 is an open Brown Girls Rock session! We invite any and everyone of all backgrounds to come visit Brown Girls Rock in the Lower School library at 3:10 p.m. Pizza will be served! Please click here if you plan to attend.
  • The employee inclusion council held its final meeting of the year on Wednesday, May 8, during which the group, which meets monthly to discuss matters of diversity and inclusion across the school building, reflected on the diversity efforts of the year and considered what they could do next year to further our efforts.
  • The parent diversity committee held its final meeting of the year on May 8. They introduced the new committee structure for next year. We will have divisional representatives for the committee. Interested in serving as a representative for your division? Email ParentDiversity@rpcs.org or McIntyreA@rpcs.org.
  • May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage month! Upper School students will be reading to Lower School/Pre-K students in honor of the month.
  • Rosetta Lee, diversity practitioner, visited RPCS on May 22 and 23. She spoke with faculty about biases and education, with parents about parenting with identity in mind, with middle school teachers about gender inclusivity, and with lower school teachers about the benefits of affinity spaces.
  • On May 20, Thobeka Mngambi From St. Stithians College in South Africa visited RPCS to learn more about our math program and diversity and inclusion efforts. We also learned more about the work that her school is doing regarding inclusivity. 
  • On May 20, the task forces of our school’s employee inclusion council met with Caroline Blatti to debrief on the work that the council has done this year, including hiring more diverse faculty, working on parent education, and promoting diversity within the student body.

 

April

In the Lower School…

  • Our Lower School students did a great job performing at Multicultural Night on Sunday, March 31! Dances were performed by Lexy H., Fifi J., Khloe K., Aveon G., Mackenzie B., Sage E., and Milan G. Musical performances were by Sloane M., Morgen K., and Gretchen K. There were representations of many cultures present, and the potluck dinner following the performances featured dishes from India, Africa, France, Ireland and more!
  • On Thursday, April 4, Eva L. presented at a Lower School morning meeting about her Korean heritage. She wore a traditional Korean dress and discussed its significance, and dressed a friend in traditional attire as well. Afterward, there were Korean snacks available for students to try!
  • On Friday, April 5, the Roses performed a dance in honor of Black women in history for the Lower and Middle school students. The dance featured the voices of students in the Lower School affinity group “Brown Girls Rock.”
  • On April 18, Carlos Duque, a lower school librarian and diversity practitioner at Capital City Public Charter School, returned to RPCS for the third time to observe classrooms and consult with teachers. In the afternoon, he co-led a professional development session with Akailah McIntyre about bias and inclusion, in correspondence with the all-faculty read “Blindspot”.
  • In fourth grade, as part of their interdisciplinary unit on Westward Expansion, the students designed family memory quilts and wrote an essay which celebrated their cultural traditions, special family trips, and much more! Also, as part of their Responsive Classroom work during Morning Meeting, the fourth graders researched important women from the She Persisted books. Students created visuals to represent each woman’s accomplishments. Finally, students participated in a pre-reading bias activity as they kicked off their adventure/survival unit in fourth grade literacy. Students were asked to analyze a series of statements connected to the novels and a small group/whole group discussion followed. They will revisit these statements at the conclusion of our novels.
  • Andrea Davis Pinkney, award-winning children’s author, visited the Lower School on April 26. She read with students and even had conversations about disability awareness.

In the Middle School…

  • On Friday, April 5, the Roses performed a dance in honor of Black women in history for the Lower and Middle school students. The dance featured the voices of students in the Lower School affinity group “Brown Girls Rock.”
  • On Tuesday, April 19, students in the Middle School diversity club continued conversations about religious diversity, including Sikhism and more.  
  • Middle School students could opt to participate in a day of silence on Friday, April 12 to honor members of the LGBTQ community who are silenced in schools. They wore ribbons to indicate their choice.
  • On April 25, RPCS hosted a Middle School Student Diversity Conference. Upper School students facilitated groups of Middle School students and there was a panel of independent school alums as well as a performance by Wombwork Productions during which students affirmed their identities. One hundred and eighty students were present from Boys Latin, Loyola Blakefield, St. Paul's School for Boys and St. Paul's School for Girls, Bryn Mawr School, Garrison Forest, McDonogh, Gilman, St. Elizabeths School, Calvert School, RPCS, Maryvale, Baltimore Collegiate, Friends, Park School, and Roland Park Elementary and Middle School. There were 18 Middle School students in attendance from RPCS and two facilitators from the Upper School.

In the Upper School…

  • Our Upper School students did a great job performing at Multicultural Night on Sunday, March 31, which was coordinated by our Student Diversity Association (President: Nettsaanett Gray, Vice President: Morgan Alexander)! Gabi Dorsey performed a poem written by Sade Johnson, and Bridget Liu, Sylvia Zhang, Alyson Zhang and Lavinia Wang performed a musical selection. There were representations of many cultures present, and the potluck dinner following the performances featured dishes from India, Africa, France, Ireland and more!
  • On April 4, The Black Student Union presented to the student body about important Black leaders, historically and modernly. They discussed forgotten Black inventors and business owners, athletes and musicians who give back to their community, and more. The presentation included trivia and prizes for the student body. There were performances by Chris Robinson and Hannah Andrews. The program ended with a tribute to victims of police brutality. 
  • The week of April 8 was Ally Week in the Upper School, hosted by the GSA (Gay/Straight Alliance). Students could opt to wear rainbow ribbons all week to show their support. On Monday, there were beads in everyone’s common spaces to make bracelets throughout the day. On Tuesday, there was a rainbow dress down day with uniform skirts in honor of the LGBTQ flag. On Wednesday, the GSA had a bake sale in the morning. All the proceeds from the bake sale went to the Trevor Project, which works to prevent suicide in the LGBTQ community. On Thursday, there was a Kona Ice truck on campus. On Friday April 12, students could opt to participate in a day of silence to honor members of the LGBTQ community who are silenced in schools. They wore ribbons to indicate their choice.
  • On Friday, April 5, 14 students attended a diversity conference at McDonogh School, working in groups with other students to discuss topics related to inclusion.
  • Kellan Szpara, RPCS class of 2004, came to speak to upper school members of the GSA about his experience as a transgender man on April 25.
  • As part of our leadership program, our ninth grade students began learning about the UN Sustainable Development goals in their Leadership Seminars.  Their discussions about how best to approach the 17 goals led to conversations considering how equity amongst all peoples needs to be one of the main priorities if we are to make headway on these important goals. Other threads of the discussions brought in the importance of recognizing how each of us can find support in the many different communities to which we belong.
  • On April 26, all Upper School students watched this video in honor of the 50th anniversary of our first Black graduate during morning meeting.

In the Community…

  • On Tuesday, April 16, Roland Park Country School hosted its annual Holocaust Day of Remembrance Convocation. The program featured Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg from Beth Tfiloh, who gave an empowering speech about how we must come together as a community to continue to combat bigotry and hatred. Caroline Blatti, Head of School, opened the program. Cantor Ann Sacks offered the invocation and performed Ali Malei Rachamim, the Mourner’s Kaddish, and the benediction. Members of the Jewish Heritage club performed the poem “First They Came” and did the candle lighting ceremony, which was introduced by Jewish Heritage Club advisor Sarah Schulz. There was a luncheon following the program.
  • Administrators from RPCS (Caroline Blatti, Duncan Booth, Lisa Teeling, Lindsay LaRue, and Akailah McIntyre) visited The Gordon School in Providence, RI on Tuesday, April 23 to learn about their equitable flexible tuition models and their affinity group structure.
  • On Sunday, April 28 in the Athletic Complex, RPCS hosted a continuation of the celebration of our first Black graduate, Deborah Williams. The program featured keynote speaker Regina Boone, the unveiling of a celebratory video of 50 years of Black students at RPCS, and a community brunch afterward.

March

In the Lower School…

  • Our librarian, Bev Edwards, has had books by Black authors and books that feature Black characters on display for Black History Month! Students have been able to check out extra books if they check them out!
  • Our 2nd grade got to ride on a real Rickshaw from DC as part of their reading of “Rickshaw Girl” by Mitali Perkins. It is a book about a girl from Bangladesh. As part of their book study, they also created their own Rickshaws!
  • Students from the Black student Union read to the 3 and 4-year olds as well as 3rd and 5th grades for Black History Month! The 3rd grade students discussed why we still have the months and also discussed its importance.
  • Ms. Edwards has been teaching her students about the sit-ins that began in Greensboro, NC in honor of Black History Month and to help students gain a better understanding of the activism that occurred during the Civil Rights Movement.
  • On February 28, our LS faculty continued their discussions about implicit bias by discussing chapters 3 & 4 of the book “Blindspot” with professional development led by Akailah McIntyre. They also had a video chat with Liz Kleinrock (of the Instagram name @teachandtransform) about various strategies to use in the classroom to discuss identity. They ended their professional development session by taking Harvard University’s implicit bias tests, which are designed to help make us more aware of the biases that we all hold. Take one of the tests yourself at implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.
  • Seeran Enayet, a George Washington University student whose family is from Bangladesh, came to speak with our second graders about what life is like there! The students asked questions of our guest and saw various items that he has from the country.

  • On March 8, the Roses (an upper school dance group) performed a dance in honor of Black women for Black history month (it was rescheduled because of snow). The performance featured the voices of lower school students in our “Brown Girls Rock” lower school affinity group, who narrated the biographies of the women being honored.

In the Middle School…

  • Students came to have lunch with Mrs. McIntyre in her office on March 1. It was an opportunity for Mrs. McIntyre to get to know more about the students and vice versa.
  • SPARK week will take place at the end of April until May. There are a range of topics that students can choose from in an opportunity to broaden the horizons of learning!
  • In honor of Women’s History Month this March, students will be sharing “Did You Know?” facts about women in history during morning meeting.
  • Ms. Sigler led students in Black History Month trivia about Black woman artists during morning meeting on Feb 26. She gave descriptions about the various artists to students and then had them look at art work and attempt to guess who the artists of the works were.
  • Members of the GSA (Gender & Sexuality Alliance) emailed teachers offering up inclusive ways to address students, such as “friends”, “comrades” and more.

In the Upper School…

  • On February 22nd, 12 students attended McDonogh’s “Sankofa” conference about diversity. They discussed the American Dream, prison system, played the game “Factuality”, and discussed mental illnesses.
  • On March 1, students from China gave a presentation about their home countries in an effort to make students more aware of where they come from and show their pride about their homelands.
  • Students from the Black student Union read to the 3 and 4-year olds as well as 3rd and 5th grades for Black History Month!
  • Akailah McIntyre visited Mrs. Hanson’s junior history classes and talked about the history of Blackface and its modern significance. She also had the same conversation with the 9th grade students.
  • In conjunction with their reading, Mrs. Khalil’s class are discussing the origins of African American Vernacular English and its relevancy in texts and modernly.
  • On March 8, the Roses performed a dance in honor of Black women for Black history month (it was rescheduled because of snow). The performance featured the voices of lower school students in our “Brown Girls Rock” lower school affinity group, who narrated the biographies of the women being honored.

  • On March 6, upper school faculty continued discussions about the book “Blindspot”, which discusses implicit biases that we all hold.

  • Seniors won our Black history month trivia challenge! They were the division with the most correct answers to the questions, which were sent daily in the month of February. They were rewarded with pizza on March 8.

In the community…

  • On February 19th, we held a listening session in which parents came and discussed diversity and inclusion initiatives around the school. B on the lookout for communication from the Parent Diversity Committee about standing meetings!
  • Multicultural Night will take place at 4 PM on March 31st! Don’t forget to sign up to audition by clicking here. Click here to bring a potluck dish.
  • Our school-wide Black history month trivia has concluded and our first place employee winners were: Alison Keim, Noemie Fiske, Beverly Edwards, Siiri Fowler, Lindsay Fitzpatrick, Emily Rohrer, and Alka Kumar. Congrats!

  • April 28 will be a continuation of our celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first Black alum. There will be a ceremony in the library beginning at 10 AM and a brunch immediately following, which will be $15 per person.

February

In the Lower School…

  • On February 14th, the lower school had a cultural exchange with 24 Chinese elementary school children attending morning meeting and visiting our 3rd and 4th grades with their teachers. The visiting Chinese students performed during morning meeting (singing, playing the piano, and more). RPCS students in Chinese in 5th grade performed a play for the visitors and RPCS students in Chinese in grades 3&4 sang. 
  • On February 15th, lower school faculty visited Capital City Charter School is Washington, DC to observe classrooms and consider what diversity and inclusive practices look like in their lower grades

In the Middle School…

  • Students have been presenting “Did you know?” Black history facts during morning meeting time in honor of Black history month
  • On Tuesday, Feb 12, Akailah McIntyre came to talk with students about the concepts of “fair” versus “right” and the lower school affinity group
  • On Thursday, Feb 14, Elisha James led middle school students in a conversation about religious diversity during Student Diversity Club. Students talked about different types of religions, their different practices, and more. The conversation will continue at the next Student Diversity Club meeting.
  • On Thursday, Feb 7, Akailah McIntyre led a professional development session with middle school faculty in which they discussed pronoun usage and implicit biases (in accordance with our whole-school reading of the book “Blindspot”)
  • On Tuesday, February 5th, some middle school students attended AIMS Making School Safe conference and had discussions about gender inclusivity.

In the Upper School…

  • Upper school students have been participating in daily trivia questions for Black history month. The grade with the most correct answers will win a pizza party!
  • On February 13th, Upper School Head Ereni Malfa and Upper School Art teacher Emily Rohrer presented to upper school faculty about their experience at this year’s People of Color Conference, which was in Nashville this past November
  • On February 7th, upper school students viewed the film “Becoming Johanna”, about the experience of a transgender teenager. Afterward, they had discussions about the film in advisories
  • On Tuesday, February 5th, some upper school students attended AIMS Making School Safe conference and had discussions about gender inclusivity.

In the Community…

  • On Feb 19 at 6 PM in the Faissler, there will be another parent listening session to discuss diversity and inclusion efforts at the school. Please come to share your thoughts and have community with parents in other divisions! Click here to RSVP.
  • On February 15, Alex Myers, a transgender man, came to speak with all faculty to discuss gender inclusivity and identity
  • All employees are participating in daily Black history month trivia questions! Top winners will receive gift cards
  • Multicultural Night will be on Sunday, March 31!

January

In the Lower School..

  • 4th and 5th graders, organized by Ashley Soellner, presented to fellow lower school students during morning meeting on January 18th about the values that Dr. King embodied and what we can all be doing to continue to embrace those values. Following the presentation, the lower school will be sent weekly challenges that they can complete in order to honor the legacy of MLK!
  • In the second week of January, Akailah met with pre-school and lower school teachers to discuss the goals that they have set for their classrooms regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion. They discussed what progress the teachers are making and what further support they feel that they need.
  • On January 17th, Akailah McIntyre visited the lower school parent network meeting to discuss the affinity group in the lower school, including what the group currently looks like, how it’s being discussed with students, why we’re doing it, and what are plans are for affinity groups in the future.
  • On Thursday, January 17th, lower school faculty engaged in conversation about chapters 1 & 2 of the book “Blindspot”, our all-school faculty read about the biases that we all hold. We also had conversations about the lower school affinity group and discussed strategies that can be used to discuss the group with students and answer any questions that they might have.
  • In the third and fourth weeks of January, Akailah McIntyre and Lisa Teeling talked to all students in the lower school (grouped as K/1, 2/3, 4/5) about the affinity group “Brown Girls Rock”. We did an activity and discussed the difference between what’s “fair” and what’s “right”, with the understanding that even though some things may not always be fair, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t necessarily the right thing to do for some of our students. There were discussions about why we have the group, how students can join and who can join, as well as conversations about affinity groups that students would like to have next year. Students gave many examples of groups that they’d like to have in the future, including groups for students with divorced parents, groups for Jewish students, and more.
  • As indicated by Ms. Sims (3rd grade teacher), during the 3rdrd grade morning meetings, there is a weekly goal being worked on. Beginning last week, the goals are aligned with the values learned from our Martin Luther King Day presentation. They discuss what the value is and how it applies to our lives at school. Throughout the week, Ms. Sims & Ms. Rosenberg check in on how students are doing with meeting the goal. 3rdrd grade read “Separate is Never Equal” and discussed the inequalities people of color faced in regards to schooling and how laws were changed to prevent discrimination. They also read “Be Kind”, and wrote in their journals about the message of the story and how one small act of kindness can make a big difference. Ms. Sims and Ms. Rosenberg plan to possibly use puppets to act out a scene or two from this book.

In the Middle School..

  • On January 14th in the middle school faculty meeting, Beth Venn presented on her experience at the People of Color Conference this past November and led faculty through an exercise in which they considered what “inclusion” means.
  • In both the Gender & Sexuality Alliance (GSA) and the Diversity Club, students had discussions about LGBTQ issues, including representation of LGBTQ students in the media and current issues facing LGBTQ students.
  • On January 18th , Ms. Mayo led students in a conversation about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy of activism. Students also completed an activity in which they considered what they wanted to be remembered for.
  • Students from Ms. Hoffman’s Middle School Digital Literacy class, Erin Hoskins & Hannah Hochstein, recorded and compiled a video in which faculty and students from all three divisions discussed affinity spaces and why they matter. The video will be presented in various settings, including with lower school teachers and families.
  • As indicated by Mrs. Allen, middle and upper school French teacher, 8th grade French is viewing and studying the film Au revoir les enfants by Louis Malle in conjunction with the 8th grade unit on the Holocaust
  • As indicated by Mrs. Hoffman, middle school history teacher, as part of the Human Rights Unit in 8th Grade, RPCS students are connecting with ESOL students at Dumbarton Middle School.  At a class meeting, 8th graders learned who their pen pal was and wrote an introduction letter. RPCS is working with Jill Williams, ESOL Department Chair at DMS to connect students. Our hope is to create a dialog that starts with the written word and ends with face to face meetings. 
  • As indicated by Mrs. Hoffman, a cornerstone of the 8th grade Human Rights Unit is the class trip to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.  The trip was Thursday, January 30.  At the museum, students met with a Holocaust survivor, Halina Yasharoff Peabody.  Students have been immersed in learning how, “The Holocaust did not begin with killing; it began with words” by examining the timeline of Nazi propaganda, laws and decrees. Students have been reading “Walls” by Hiltgunt Zassenhaus and discussing the impact of bystanders, collaborators and rescuers.
  • At a morning meeting on Friday, February 1st, Black and Brown students from the middle school were invited to come serve as mentors for students in the “Brown Girls Rock” lower school affinity group. Students in the upper school Black Student Union already serve as mentors for lower school students in the group, and this is a great opportunity for the affinity space to become a whole-school initiative. The group is every day 6 from 3:15-4 PM. Please email Akailah McIntyre (McIntyreA@rpcs.org) if you are interested in your child serving as a mentor. Still not sure why affinity spaces are important at this age? Please click here to read more, or come to our parent listening session on 2/19 at 6 PM in the Faissler Library.
  • Students in the Diversity Club were set to discuss diversity among religions on Jan 31. Because 8th grade students were on the Holocaust fieldtrip, that meeting has been moved to February 14th. Please encourage your child to attend if they’d like to talk about different religions!

In the Upper School..

  • On January 9th, Upper School Faculty had their 5th professional development session of the year in which they focused on reflecting on their own personal identities and considering the ways in which those identities influence their teaching practice.
  • On February 19th at 10:30 AM, an assembly will be held in which people from various backgrounds speak about what activism looks like for them. Speakers include non-profit workers, a teacher/writer, and an artist/professor.
  • Students from the Black Student Union continue to educate their peers about Kwanzaa. On January 10th, students presented about the Kwanzaa principle “Ujima”, citing its meaning of “Collective Work & Responsibility”, referencing various organizations with the name, and citing ways that we can demonstrate the principle.
  • On Thursday, January 31st, students in the upper school Student Diversity Association (SDA) presented about modern-day activists and had students consider a cause that they’d like to be activists for. Activists that they highlighted included Emma Gonzalez, Miriam Jordan, Laverne Cox, Deray McKesson, Linda Sarsour, and Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez. Prior to their presentation, SDA students sent a survey to the entire upper school asking questions about activism, including who their favorite activists are, what questions they have about activism, and how they describe activism. Students from SDA also shared those survey results during their presentation.
  • As indicated by Mr. Cooper, upper school World Language teacher, for their Arabic III midterm project, students interviewed Johns Hopkins students who grew up in Egypt. They spoke in Arabic about cultural differences between Egypt and America, and their lives as college students. Students recorded the interviews on video, and wrote English subtitles.  
  • As indicated by Mr. Jackson, upper school History teacher, Mr. van Kampen (learning specialist) has been speaking with World History students about his experiences of teaching and living in The Democratic Republic of the Congo. He lived there from 2013-16 and taught at an American school in the nation’s capital.  World History classes have been studying European imperialism in Africa – The Scramble for Africa. Mr. van Kampen was able to skillfully explain to the students how the Democratic Republic of the Congo is still, in many ways, feeling the horrific impacts of imperialism even today.
  • The following updates are as indicated by Mrs. Parker, Director of Counseling…
  • On January 31st, there was a lunch meeting with Amanda Eby, the Director of Scholar Development at Lillie May Carroll Jackson School, to prepare 13 peer health students to start a series of five social emotional classes for the 5th grade class at LMCJS on healthy friendships, problem-solving, social media, mindfulness, and body changes.
  • On January 29th, there was a health education training held at RPCS for public, private, and charter school teachers and administrators and included Jabari Lyles, the LGBTQ Affairs Liaison to the Baltimore City Mayor.
  • On February 4th, there will be a free parent event that RPCS is offering in tandem with the conference on the evening of February 4th--The Family Journey: Raising Gender Nonconforming Children. This parent evening event from 7:30-9:30 will be open to all AIMS School families and consists of a documentary screening and then a presentation and q/a with the filmmaker Jonathan Skurnik. 
  • On February 5th, Over 50 students and faculty will attend the Making Schools Safe conference promoting safety and well-being for all LGBTQ students in independent schools.
  • On February 7th, all Upper School students will watch “Becoming Johanna”, another film created by Jonathan Skurknik.

In the Roland Park Country School Community...

  • In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, RPCS, in partnership with Lillie May Carroll Jackson School, is participating in a social justice book drive that will benefit head start programs in Baltimore City! As we know, early literacy is vital to students’ academic advancement, and exposure to diverse books at young age makes a tremendous, long-term impact on children’s perspectives and empathy. Please consider donating books by visiting bit.ly/justicebooks. We would like to receive all books at RPCS by January 30th. Email McIntyreA@rpcs.org with any questions!
  • The Parent Diversity Committee’s next Parent Listening session will be held on Tuesday, February 19th at 6 PM in the Trustee Seminar Room. Please click here to let us know what you’d like to discuss in advance of the session. We look forward to seeing you then and hearing your perspectives on diversity & inclusion at RPCS!
  • Thank you to all who donated to our Social Justice Book Drive! Students from RPCS as well as LMCJS came together to read books and build community. We will be donating the books to local YMCA headstart programs.
  • On February 19th at 6 PM in the Faissler Library, the Parent Diversity Committee will be hosting the 3rd parent listening session of the year. Please click here to RSVP if you plan to attend. Childcare and dinner will be provided.
  • We will be having Multicultural Night again this year! Please stay tuned for details about the date.
  • The author of many articles on affinity spaces, diversity practitioner Rosetta Lee, will be visiting RPCS to talk about affinity spaces and why they’re important to promote inclusivity. Please plan to join us for a parent coffee on May 23rd at 8 AM!

December

In the Little Reds…

  • In the second week of December, Members of the Black Student Union (Gabi Dorsey, Tavianne Maultsby, Logan Void, Nettsaanett Gray, and Brylen Hatcher) came to talk with the 2s and 4s about Kwanzaa- they read books, sang songs, and did arts and crafts. They’ll come and talk to the 3-year-olds next week!

 In the Lower School…

  • On Dec. 6, Lower school teachers had their 3rd professional development session of the year in which they were provided a binder of resources to get the conversation going about diversity and inclusion related topics with students! Take a look at those resources here. They also set goals about practices they’d like to implement in their classrooms, and got a copy of the book “Blindspot” to read and reflect about the biases that we all hold.
  • 4th grade has an awesome board about the different parts of themselves that they like- including different eye and hair types! They also wrote descriptions about what they love about themselves.
  • Do you still have questions about the lower school affinity group for girls of color called “Brown Girls Rock”? If so, Akailah M. will be at the 8 AM Lower School Parent Network meeting on January 17th to answer any questions that you may have. We will also discuss strategies for explaining the group to your children, and hear from students in upper school about why the group would have been meaningful for them at that age.
  • In Ms. McAsian’s first grade art class, students have begun their self-portrait unit! They learn how to draw curly, straight, and braided hair, as well as how to represent texture visually. They discuss the differences in eye, skin, and hair color and read the book “Shades of People."

In the Middle School…

  • On Dec. 11, Akailah M. came to talk with Ellen Krich’s 6th grade English students about Jim Crow laws in conjunction with their reading of “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry”. They looked at examples of household items from the Jim Crow Era in order to grapple with the idea of how such practices became normal. They asked great questions and had wonderful ideas!
  • On Dec. 7, Middle School GSA met with Upper School GSA in order to talk through ways that they can continue to work together. One specific initiative that the group continues to push forward on is a gender-neutral bathroom at RPCS. The initiative has been approved and a sign will be placed on the bathroom near the Sinex that states “All Genders”.
  • On Dec. 4, Middle School Diversity Club played a great interactive game about different hair types created by 8th grader Erin Hoskins! There were conversations about products and tools used for different hair types, and discussions about what hair has looked like through different eras.
  • On Dec. 10, middle School faculty members had their 2nd professional development session with Akailah M. on Monday, Dec 10. The session was on “Teaching Black Girls”, and faculty was presented with data about Black students in particular and discussed practices that we can all use to be more inclusive. They also all got a copy of the book “Blindspot” to read and reflect about the biases that we all hold.
  • Mrs. Allen’s 6th grade French students recently completed a study of Francophone countries and regions around the world. Francophone countries are countries where French is the official language of the country. These countries represent people from a variety of backgrounds, complexions, etc.
  • In Ancient History, Mrs. Hoffman’s 8th graders recently completed a unit on Judaism and the Israelites.  The essential question for this unit was “How did early Jews develop and maintain a distinct cultural identity?”.  Students discussed the monotheistic nature of Judaism versus the polytheistic religions of Egyptians and Mesopotamians.  Over the course of the unit, students learned about the unique beginnings of Judaism and the early hardships they faced that shaped their course in history.  In conjunction with this unit, we assigned an article of the week entitled, “The word Jew was not a common insult when I was in school…it is now.” 

In the Upper School…

  • On Dec 7, Middle School GSA met with Upper School GSA in order to talk through ways that they can continue to work together. One specific initiative that the group continues to push forward on is a gender-neutral bathroom at RPCS. The initiative has been approved and a sign will be placed on the bathroom near the Sinex that states “All Genders”.
  • In the second week of December, Members of the Black Student Union (Gabi Dorsey, Tavianne Maultsby, Logan Void, Nettsaanett Gray, and Brylen Hatcher) came to talk with the 2s and 4s about Kwanzaa- they read books, sang songs, and did arts and crafts. They’ll come and talk to the 3-year-olds next week!
  • On Dec. 5, Upper school teachers had a DEI-related PD session led by Carolyn Parker (Director of Counseling), Robin Prescott (math teacher), and Akailah M. about the importance of building relationships with students. Surveys were given to students prior to the session so that teachers were able to consider their opinions about how to best build relationships with them.
  • Students in Ms. Rivkin’s ceramics class are creating a range of diverse pieces, including Greek amphorae, Native American wedding vases, and Chinese agateware.
  • On Dec 6, students who attended the Student Diversity Leadership Conference in Nashville (Olamide Oyenusi, Logan Void, Amy Eisenberg & Caroline Kleis) presented to upper school students about what they learned. They led them through a series of activities to get them thinking critically about their identities, including a staring exercise, mapping out their own social identifiers and how they feel about them (gender, socioeconomic status, family structure, age, race, etc.) and practicing speaking from the “I” perspective.

November

In the Lower School...

  • Mr. Keiffer Mitchell, grandson of civil rights activist Juanita Jackson Mitchell and father of RPCS 9th grader Kenna Mitchell, came to speak with 5th grade students about his late grandmother, the work she was a champion for, and their relationship.
  • 5th grade students in Megary Sigler's art class are working to create hats in honor of civil rights hero Juanita Jackson Mitchell, who was well known for her adornment of them. Those who have finished have their hats displayed outside of the Faissler library. Be sure to check them out!
  • On Friday, Nov. 16, our 4th and 5th grade students posed questions to Black alum who visited a lower school morning meeting as part of the celebration of our first Black graduate, Deborah Williams (1968). On the panel was Dr. Tara Bynum, 1998,  Ms. Tanaira Cullens, 2008, and Ms. Sharon Bowie, 1976 (also the first Black teacher at RPCS). From questions about uniforms that were worn when they went to RPCS to questions about if they were treated differently as Black students, the lower schoolers had a lot to say and were excited to learn.
  • Our affinity group for students of color, "Brown girls rock", had its first meeting on Nov. 6. Our next meeting will be on Nov. 26 from 3:00 PM to 3:45 PM. At this meeting, students will get their Black Student Union big sister/little sister pairs. They are so excited, and we hope that this pairing will foster mentorship and conversations across divisions.
  • Akailah M. came to lead an inclusivity exercise with 3rd grade students about who we choose to be friends with, why, and how we can start to work toward friendships that go beyond what we can see at face value. Prior to Akailah coming in, Renee Best also spent some time with the students talking about the qualities of a good friendship! Want more books to read more books about unity? Try this book list!
  • “Brown girls rock”, our lower school affinity group, had its second meeting! This time, students were paired with girls in the upper school Black Student Union. They colored pictures of Black and Brown characters with the older girls and talked about what they really enjoyed about what makes them unique. It was an affirmative bonding experience!

In the Middle School...

  • Students in Monica Recht's class gave speeches as members of the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848. They practiced empathy while embodying the persona, life, and perspectives of women of varying backgrounds of the time
  • RPCS will officially host the Baltimore Middle School Diversity Leadership Conference on Friday, April 25, 2019. More details to come
  • On Friday, Nov. 16, Middle School students Aylin Metzel and Erin Hoskins facilitated a panel of Black alum who visited during a morning meeting as part of the celebration of our first Black graduate, Deborah Williams (1968). On the panel were Dr. Corrin McBride Hunt, 1999, Ms. Rianna Matthews-Brown, 1997, and Ms. April Fahr, 1991.
  • We will host the Baltimore area’s Middle School Student Diversity Leadership Conference on Thursday, April 25! Students from area independent schools will come to RPCS to attend and present at various workshops that relate to diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. More details to follow!

In the Upper School...

  • 12 students attended a Diversity Leadership Conference on Saturday, November 11. They presented on various diverse topics, such as gender, sexuality and race
  • Members of the Black Student Union moderated an upper school panel for the November 16th Celebration of RPCS' first Black alum. They also had a luncheon with the alums and moderated the 5:30 PM reception
  • On November 7, Upper School faculty had a professional development session about teaching Black girls
  • On November 12, faculty members in the English, History and Arts departments had a professional development session about race and the n-word in teaching, and Science teachers had a session about how diversity & inclusion work applies to science curriculum
  • Four students (one from each grade) attended NAIS’ National Student Diversity Leadership Conference. They had conversations about gender, sexuality, race, identity, etc. and considered the questions they should be asking in order to make our school community more inclusive. Students will present what they learned at the conference to the entire upper school body on Thursday, Dec 6. Remind your student to apply to attend next year! Applications will go out in the summer of 2019!
  • “Brown girls rock”, our lower school affinity group, had its second meeting! This time, students were paired with girls in the upper school Black Student Union. They colored pictures of Black and Brown characters with the older girls and talked about what they really enjoyed about what makes them unique. It was an affirmative bonding experience!

In the Community…

  • There will be another Parent Listening Session on Monday, December 10th at 6 PM in the Faissler Library. Faculty members who are doing work related to Community & Inclusion will be present to hear from parents and speak about all that's happening in our school building!
  • Our November 16 celebration of our first Black graduate was a great success! We saw approximately 150 guests attend to honor the legacy of Deborah Williams, 1968. Thank you so much to all who made this event possible!
  • Our Dec. 10 Parent Listening Session has been rescheduled until after the new year! More details to follow.
  • The employee inclusion council had its final meeting of the year the last week of November. We reflected on the DEI work that has occurred so far this year and considered the specific characteristics of what’s going well with those events so that we can continue strategic momentum into the new year.

October

In the Lower School...

  • On Tuesday, October 16th our 4th and 5th grade students watched this video on building a Sukkah! They had lots of questions for Upper Schooler Julianna Brunn (from the Jewish Heritage Club) about Sukkot and were excited to be able to learn more.
  • On Tuesday, October 9th, 5th grade learned about Celia Cruz with Upper School students Nia Green and Lauren Fried. They read the book “My name is Celia”. There were conversations about people of different races who speak Spanish, and students learned more about what the word Hispanic means. Not certain what the difference is between terms like Hispanic and Latin American? Click here to learn more!
  • In the aftermath of recent hate crimes in our nation, there have been conscious efforts made to have conversations with students about religious diversity. At this past Friday’s whole school morning meeting, the students read books featuring Jewish characters so that our students are minded that members of the Jewish faith are just like the rest of us. 3rd grade will have a visit from the Jewish Heritage Club this upcoming week.
  • Our lower school affinity group for girls of color starts this Tuesday, Nov. 6. Click here if you would like your child to attend.
  • Kwame Alexander, Newbery medal winning author, came to visit the lower and middle school students on Nov. 1! They sang songs together and he signed books. It was a great time!
  • Akailah McIntyre, Director of Diversity & Inclusion had a conversation with 4th graders about allyship on Nov. 2! Students learned about words like “upstander” “ally”, and why we should work toward using the word “differently abled” instead of “disabled”.
  • Our lower school teachers had their second diversity & inclusion professional development session on Oct. 25. There were discussions about representation of people of color historically and modernly, and about practices that we can put in place in our classrooms to work against normalizing the dominant culture.

In the Middle School...

  • 7th grade student Arianna Carr led our middle school diversity club meeting on Wed. Oct 17 about media bias. Click here to see the video we watched. Questions that you might be able to ask at home are: Where do we get our news from? Do you think that the news we’re getting is written from a specific point of view? What can to broaden the perspectives that we’re exposing ourselves to? Try this website to get a glimpse at news articles being presented in different ways.
  • On October 15, Middle School Faculty had their first Professional Development Session with Akailah McIntyre, Director of Diversity and Inclusion. They grappled with a few equity quotes and considered how they might respond to various scenarios that relate to Diversity & Inclusion in regard to students.
  • Members of the GSA made an announcement during a morning meeting about Coming Out Day, which was October 11. This is the 30th Anniversary of the holiday, which encourages people to be open about who they are. Click here to learn why we still celebrate Coming Out Day in 2018.
  • On Monday, November 5th, Garrison Forest School will host a panel on Historically Black College & Universities from 7 PM to 9 PM. Transportation for families to and from RPCS will be provided. Please email Akailah McIntyre at McIntyreA@rpcs.org if you and your child(ren) are interested in attending!
  • Students had a “Mix it Up at Lunch!” Day on Oct. 23! Elisha James summarizes the event:  Tuesday, October 23rd was National Mix It Up Day. Research indicates that during lunch, students often sit with the same group of people. Therefore, students miss the opportunity to learn more about people in their community. Leaders of our Community Council, Student Government Association, Visual and Performing Arts and Athletic Association planned Mix It Up Lunch to encourage members of the community to step out of their comfort zones, and get to know other people. Student leaders created mixed grade-level groups and led those groups in conversations and games during lunch. The Mix It Up Lunch stretched students to embrace peers across grade-levels and as a result, rich conversations were started and the community made stronger. Throughout the remainder of the year, student leaders will plan more Mix It Up Days.
  • Kwame Alexander, Newbery medal winning author, came to visit the lower and middle school students on Nov. 1! They sang songs together and he signed books. It was a great time!

In the Upper School…

  • On Tuesday, October 16th our 4th and 5th grade students watched this video on building a Sukkah! They had lots of questions for Upper Schooler Julianna Brunn (from the Jewish Heritage Club) about Sukkot and were excited to be able to learn more.
  • On Tuesday, October 9th, 5th grade learned about Celia Cruz with Upper School students Nia Green and Lauren Fried. They read the book “My name is Celia”. There were conversations about people of different races who speak Spanish, and students learned more about what the word Hispanic means. Not certain what the difference is between terms like Hispanic and Latin American? Click here to learn more!
  • Members of the GSA made an announcement during a morning meeting about Coming Out Day, which was October 11. This is the 30th Anniversary of the holiday, which encourages people to be open about who they are. Click here to learn why we still celebrate Coming Out Day in 2018.
  • On Monday, November 5th, Garrison Forest School will host a panel on Historically Black College & Universities from 7 PM to 9 PM. Transportation for families to and from RPCS will be provided. Please email Akailah McIntyre at McIntyreA@rpcs.org if you and your child(ren) are interested in attending!
  • On October 17, Upper School Faculty had their second Professional Development session with Akailah McIntyre, Director of Diversity & Inclusion. They took a look at various images from the Jim Crow Era and talked about what representation of People of Color in the media and our daily lives looks like. They also discussed what we can do in our classrooms to actively work against stereotypical portrayals of People of Color.
  • Our upper school Jewish Heritage club plans to write cards to members of the Pittsburgh Community who have been affected by the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting this week, and hosted a tri-school Jewish Heritage Club student conversation to process the tragedy on Nov 2.
  • The Student Diversity Association showed this video at a morning meeting to consider Halloween representations and hosted a subsequent lunchtime student conversation. This video was a follow-up to Mrs. McIntyre’s conversation with the students a few weeks before the holiday.

In the Community…

  • On October 29, the Parent Diversity Committee will host its first event in the Faissler Library from 6 PM to 8 PM. From 6:00-6:45 PM, there will be an introduction to the Parent Diversity Committee. From 6:45-8:00 PM, there will be discussions about how we can start to view Halloween through the lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • On November 7 at 6 PM, RPCS will be partnering with parent diversity committees at Bryn Mawr and Gilman to host the game “Factuality”. Attendees will be active participants in the game, which will explore structural inequalities right here in Baltimore! The event will be at Bryn Mawr in the North building. RSVP to parentsassociation@brynmawrschool.org by November 1 to attend!
  • Nov. 16 is the 50th Anniversary of the 1st Black RPCS graduate! We will host a reception in the Faissler Library at 5:30 PM. RSVP by Nov. 9 by clicking here!
  • Our Parent Diversity Committee held its introductory meeting on Oct. 29, including conversations about Halloween representation. We will host a parent listening session on Monday, Dec. 10, 2018. Details to follow!
  • On Wed., Nov 7 at 6 PM, the Parent Diversity Committee will host a great tri-school event about structural inequalities in Baltimore at Bryn Mawr School. Participants will play a game in an interactive format. See you there!
  • Nov. 16 at 5:30 PM in the Faissler Library is the celebration of our first Black alum! Click here to RSVP if you haven’t yet!

September

In the Lower School...

  • Upper School Students came to Kindergarten to read a book about Hispanic Culture and discuss Hispanic Heritage Month. They will visit K-5 classrooms with Akailah throughout the month. Looking for great books to read with your child at home about Hispanic Heritage? Click here!
  • Carlos Duque (a LS librarian in DC) came to lead the first of 7 Culturally Responsive Teaching sessions with LS faculty on Thursday, Sept 20. Teachers watched this TED talk about the dangers of a single story and read articles about micro-aggressions. While here, he & Akailah observed classrooms and met with teachers and faculty members across the school to discuss culturally responsive teaching practices (even with our littlest 2s teachers!).
  • 4th grade students wrote poems about who they are, their hobbies, and what makes them unique. They performed them before an audience, including HOS, Caroline Blatti! Looking for books to read at home that empower girls? Try the “Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls” series or the “She Persisted” series. They are great for K- 5 students!
  • Upper school students have continued to visit and read books about Hispanic Heritage with lower school students! By the week of Oct. 8, they will have visited all K-5 classrooms. Looking for books that represent diversity among Latinx people? Try this list of books that contains Afro-Latinx characters.
  • Starting this past week and continuing for this coming week, members of the Jewish Heritage Club will be coming to lower school classrooms to read books about Sukkot (though the holiday has already passed -it was Sept 23 to Sept 30 this year- we continue to recognize and remember that learning about all cultures is a year-long activity)!

In the Middle School…

  • The Student Diversity Club has its first meeting, led by Akailah McIntyre (the Director of Diversity & Inclusion) and Elisha James! Wondering what diversity-related resources that you can use with your middle schooler at home? Try this video to get their wheels turning about race and perceptions around it. Follow up questions might be: What do you notice in this video? What questions do you have after watching it? What does it make you reconsider? What experiences do you have that you think are shaped by your race, gender, etc.?
  • The middle school GSA (Gender & Sexuality Alliance) also held its first meeting (sponsored by Megary Sigler)! It was well-attended and the students are excited to get started. Students introduced the group using the following message: “GSA stands for Gender Sexuality Alliance. This means that we will discuss topics about gender and sexual orientation as well as equality and empowerment of the LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) community. And we will also find ways to celebrate the many related awareness days during the year, like Day of Silence and Coming Out Day. The club will be a safe, friendly, and fun space for everyone, no matter how you identify. Attendance will not be taken at the meetings, so everyone can feel safe and comfortable to join in.” Wondering why we’re having a GSA in the middle school? Take a look at this article.
  • There was a day full of wonder and learning on October 3 as the middle school spent the day engaging with their all school read, Stella by Starlight. The book discusses an 11-year old girl growing up in the segregated south. Prominent themes that the students learned about were racism, civil rights, community, kindness, and fairness. The 8th grade team coordinated the day, and it included a workshop about community & intersectionality with Akailah McIntyre, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, to start. Then, students had conversations in small groups about community experiences and worked on community posters. They then had the pleasure of watching a live actress from the Lewis museum portray Civil Rights leader Juanita Jackson Mitchell. Finally, they ended the day with a panel of speakers who talked about what life was like for them under segregation. The panel included Yvette Matthews (MS after-care coordinator), Dr. James Fuller (uncle of Elisha James, Dean of Students), and Janice the Griot (the actress from the Lewis museum). It was a blast!
  • Looking for more books about civil rights? Try this book list!

In the Upper School…

  • Upper school students came to Kindergarten to read a book about Hispanic Culture! They will visit K-5 classrooms throughout the month.
  • Upper School students had their first all-school DEI session with Akailah McIntyre, the Director of Diversity & Inclusion. They had discussions about what it means to speak your truth, and how to begin to move away from the idea that all minorities share the same experiences. Want to extend the conversation with your child at home? Try starting with this video. It discusses the idea that Hispanic people come from various backgrounds and have an array of experiences.
  • On Wednesday, September 26, Upper School Faculty had their first DEI Professional Development session of the year! We sparked conversation about various quotes related to diversity & inclusion, and considered how to address DEI-related matters both within and outside of the classroom using scenarios.
  • Under the guidance of Lisa Diver, the Semis create bulletin boards representing a musician of the cycle. There has been a specific focus on music by different Hispanic musicians during National Hispanic Awareness Month, and the first group was assigned to do a board reflective of Gloria Estefan.
  • Upper school students have continued to come visit and read books about Hispanic Heritage with lower school students! By the week of Oct. 8, they will have visited all K-5 classrooms. Looking for books that represent diversity among Latinx people? Try this list of books that contains Afro-Latinx characters.
  • Starting this past week and continuing for this coming week, members of the Jewish Heritage club will be coming to lower school classrooms to read books about Sukkot (though the holiday has already passed -it was Sept 23 to Sept 30 this year- we continue to recognize and remember that learning about all cultures is a year-long activity)!

In the Community…

  • The first Employee Inclusion Council meeting happened on Tuesday, Sept 18. 28 teachers and employees from across divisions came together to talk about the needs of our community as it relates to DEI work. The council will designate task forces in the coming month to focus on specific DEI agenda items, and will continue to convene once per month. More to come!
  • The Parent Diversity Committee, a collaborative effort between the Parents Association and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, is getting started! It is being chaired by parent Shannell Cockrell. An introductory meeting will be held on Oct. 29 in the Faissler library at 6 PM. Interested in joining the committee? Email parentdiversity@rpcs.org. More details to follow!
  • As a branch of the Employee Inclusion Council, we are happy to announce that we have created three task forces to work on specific initiatives related to Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion. They are: The student task force, the faculty task force, and the community task force. Nine employees, across divisions, are members. They will begin meeting every other week starting this month.