On Tuesday, January 22, students from our Black Student Union returned to the 4-year-old class to read books and build relationships!
On Thursday, January 17th, Samantha Fletcher from St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School came to speak with our pre-school and K and 1stgrade classes about how to discuss identity with younger students.
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 (3rdgrade teacher), during the 3rdrdgrade 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. 3rdrdgrade 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.
As indicated by Mrs. Allen, middle and upper school French teacher, 8th grade French is viewing and studying the filmAu revoir les enfantsby Louis Malle in conjunction with the 8thgrade 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? Pleaseclick hereto 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 8thgrade 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!
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 5thgrade 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 ofFebruary 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 Community…
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 19that 6 PM in the Faissler Library, the Parent Diversity Committee will be hosting the 3rdparent listening session of the year. Pleaseclick hereto 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 manyarticles 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 23rdat 8 AM!