"Why do we call skin white when it's not the same color as paper" and "that's not really black, it's a shade of brown". See how these comments and questions came up in Social Justice class.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)
West End Day School knows the importance of growth. We foster it in our students and inspire it within our staff; and in the past year we have realized the importance of examining our own growth and how we need to play a bigger role in addressing the long-standing racial inequities in our society. West End Day School began this important work by reflecting on what was missing from our Mission from a Diversity, Equality and Inclusion standpoint.
Our first responsibility was to make Diversity, Equity and Inclusion a more central part of both our mission and curriculum. We began by incorporating Pollyanna, a Racial Literacy Curriculum, into our school. We chose Pollyanna as our guiding light, as its main Mission – developing stronger communities – is aligned with West End Day School’s own Mission. This Racial Literacy Curriculum addresses challenges through deep conversations and promotes the understanding that racial, socioeconomic, religious and sexual diversity enhances all elements of our schools. It gives our teachers a jumping off point for how to look at our curriculum through a different lens.
Emma Yovanoff, supervising social worker and now DEI Task Force Leader, leads our staff in an effort to continue the drive and necessity to more directly discuss racism, equality and justice in our school. The DEI task force meets regularly to discuss and put into action the development of an anti-racist curriculum, further develop our own relationship to race, and continue to educate ourselves and our students.
West End Day School will not perpetuate silence around racism and acts of violence. We stand together with the AAPI Community.
Our oldest class, led by Mr. Afzaal, has been using the book, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, as a way to explore race and racism in a book club format.
Professor Ibram X. Kendi responded to questions formulated by NYSAIS community members to help us see how we can become antiracist schools.
We're thankful to have celebrated MLK, Jr. Day as a school. His messages continue to ring true in their power and relevancy.
RBG once said, “Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time." WEDS knows how important it is to talk about all of the challenges one woman had to overcome to find her way to Supreme Court. We also know it’s important to do so with a growth mindset.
No biological truth to race, you say? Our oldest class dove into discussions about how race is believed to be a socially constructed idea, used to justify the exploitation of specific groups of people. Long story short: race isn’t real, but racism is. Be sure to ask them about it!
Our community bulletin board inspired our students to explore what diversity means to them. These important messages will be daily reminders of our commitment to ensuring all of our community feels safe, valued, and understood.
"Rising Above the Rancor: A Letter to Students from NYC Heads of School at an Historic Moment,” was a collaboration between New York City independent school leaders. We want our students to know that we can work together in making our schools, our city, and our democracy stronger. Like everything we do at West End Day School, this letter was modified for our older and younger elementary school students (both attached) so they could better understand its valuable message.
This Parent/Guardian Companion Guide provides an overview of each unit featured in the curriculum and recommends questions and conversation starters to help you and your child discuss race, culture, and identity at home. It also provides suggestions for reading and viewing material to enhance racial literacy.