At the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, several members of our faculty and staff created a new committee focused on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in our community. Since then, the DEI committee has led our faculty and staff in workshops, shared readings, and deep discussions as we strive to bring strong anti-racist and anti-bias teaching into the Waldorf curriculum and our school community.
Consultant Randolph Carter of Alma Partners has been working with our DEI committee, as well as our faculty and staff, throughout the summer and fall. Last week, Mr. Carter joined us for a well-attended all-school parent evening on Zoom, which focused on our work in DEI. As part of our discussion that evening, he is leading our community in reading the book Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations about Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum, and he recommended the story Why All Parents Should Talk With Their Kids About Social Identity from NPR, which discusses how and why to discuss racial, ethnic, class, and gender identity with children. We hope our blog readers will also join us in our group study of these materials!
Among the other things we discussed at last week’s parent evening is how our faculty is examining the Waldorf curriculum, from early childhood through 8th grade, to identify the ways we can incorporate diverse characters, images, and stories into the classroom. Sarah Whitmore, a member of our DEI committee and the lead teacher in the Manzanita early childhood classroom, discussed the various ways she is incorporating diverse characters, images, toys, and stories into her classroom, among other efforts to create a more inclusive environment for young children.
We also heard from 8th Grade class teacher Kristine Deason, who discussed the way the Waldorf curriculum connects children in the upper grades with the greater world, teaching them to view history as well as current events with a critical mind and from different perspectives.
On November 14, 1960, our faculty remembered Ruby Bridges, who at just 6 years old became the first African American student to integrate the all-white William Frantz Elementary School, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Every day that year, federal marshals accompanied Ruby to school. Our music teacher shared the song “Ruby Shoe’s” by Lori McKenna (see her beautiful rendition in the video here).
Some of our teachers incorporated Ruby Bridges’s story into their classwork this week. In 3rd grade, Ms. Martin asked students to share words on the chalkboard that describe her.