School hosts diversity dinner

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School hosts diversity dinner

Isabella Zhang, Staff Writer

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Head of School Dr. Tom Kelly and the office of Identity, Culture and Institutional Equity (ICIE) organized the second Heads of School Diversity Practitioner dinner, held in the Faculty Dining Room last Tuesday.

The event allowed administrators and diversity practitioners, faculty members committed to the pursuit of diversity, from 28 independent schools across the tri-state area to gather, share ideas surrounding diversity work, embrace changing society, and talk about collective issues the institutions face.

“As we endeavor to grow our programs and services, all with a focus on promoting greater inclusivity, a deeper appreciation of identity, and a clarion call for social justice, we thought it was]only appropriate to meet with our peer schools, at least annually, to compare notes and, hopefully, best practices,” Kelly said.

“School cultures are made visible by the people who live that culture and so culture can shift and change over time as the community welcomes new members,” ICIE DirectorPatricia Zuroski said.

Over the course of the dinner, administrators were presented with diversity-related issues to discuss at their tables such as learning how to deal with difficult conversations and understanding the work of being an anti-racist institution. Zuroski, co-Director of ICIE John Gentile, and ICIE Associate Sharina Gordon then presented a scenario regarding school expenses and financial aid.

Administrators were seated at tables apart from their respective diversity practitioners so each participant could speak candidly and hear from the experiences of other institutions.

“It is important that the independent schools come together and realize that diversity work does not reside in one person or even two people,” Bank Street Head of School Jed Lippard said.

Head of the Brooklyn Heights Montessori School Martha Haakmat does not believe a school can be excellent without doing diversity work. “We try to help the child to get to know himself as a full human being and get to know the differences of the people around them as full human beings,” she said.

The Ideal School of Manhattan Director of Diversity and Community Life Tatesha Clark wants to educate a more diverse and complex body of students and teachers so her school is able to represent the world at large.

“Diversity is everywhere you look. Sometimes you can’t see it, and sometimes you are not aware of it, but in order for a community to be creative, inspired, and to thrive,” Gentile said. “You want to tap into what diversity is.”

What stood out to Browning Head of the School John Botti was “the degree to which all of our schools are wrestling with some of the same challenges, irrespective of our different histories in this work,” he said.

“After this meeting, I’ve left with some needed energy and some hopes for new kinds of questions to share with both my community and my fellow heads of school,” Botti said.