A group of 10 faculty members and six students attended the NAIS People of Color Conference (PoCC) and the NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) in Seattle, Wash., this year on Dec. 4-7.
The NAIS People of Color Conference was created by and for educators of color within independent schools to provide a safe space for teachers and administrators of color to network and to develop their teaching and leadership skills.
According to Antonio Williams, PC's director of diversity, equity and inclusion, the mission of the PoCC is to allow adults of color the opportunity to be their authentic selves free from judgment, microaggressions and ridicule.
Williams, along with Shanelle Henry, director of equity and inclusion at the Greens Farms Academy, conducted a PoCC workshop titled “Invoking Invictus: Dealing with White Faces in Black Spaces.”
At the SDLC, the six PC students — two sophomores and four seniors — engaged in work with peers from around the country and abroad in a multiracial, multicultural gathering. SDLC focuses on self-reflecting, forming allies and building community. While at the conference, students developed cross-cultural communication skills and designed effective strategies for social justice practice through dialogue and the arts. They also learned the foundations of allyship and networking principles.
"The vibe in the room with the kids was so immediately welcoming of everything and everyone," sophomore Gabrielle Polite said. "There was no judgment. That opened the space [for us all] to be vulnerable."
Fellow conference attendee and senior Riley M. agreed: "It was so open, so honest. It feels impossible to describe."
"The students who attended SDLC are leaders within their community," Williams said. "These young adults had the opportunity to explore their identities and others'. This experience has broadened their knowledge about themselves and the world around them. The bond they have developed with each other can never be broken. In their own words, 'This was a transformative experience.'"
Collectively, the six students and 10 faculty members will work together to provide our community with support and guidance in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion. In addition to planning and leading Penn Charter's Cheryl Irving Student Diversity Conference scheduled for March 7, 2020, these students will assist in training our faculty in areas of racial literacy, microaggressions and white fragility. They will also participate in the MLK Jr. Day of Service, working with the youngest members of the PC community, our Lower School students.