A year ago at this time, the leadership of Braiding Different Strandsboth parent and faculty co-chairs alikereflected on a year of noticeable movement. We had enjoyed the usual series of come-one-come-all evenings that invite the community to reflect on the ways that diversity enriches our daily experiences. We had introduced race-based affinity groups for parents of students of color and a ‘Witnessing Whiteness’ group for white adults in our community to explore the ways that their race informs their experiences and those of their children, in school and out. The work was meaningful, challenging, and full of momentum as we looked ahead to the 2017-18 school year.
As we reflect on this year’s work, we find ourselves again appreciating momentum gained. Last summer, teachers Tina Fox and William Yepes were trained as SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) facilitators in order to bring the program to Belmont Day for parents and faculty alike. SEED group seminars take place once a month and include a shared meal, personal reflection and testimony on aspects of participants’ personal identities, and collective learning about systems of oppression and privilege. Race-based affinity groups for the adults in our community continued as well. We also hired Belmont Day’s first director of equity and inclusion. Jimmy Juste will join us on July 1 after serving in this capacity at the Inly School on the South Shore. The addition of this role, and Jimmy’s hire, have generated much enthusiasm among our faculty and marks a critically important step for our school at just the right time in our history.
For those who did not have a chance to meet Jimmy through the hiring process, we will introduce him to the community at the annual Braiding Different Strands potluck dinner this Thursday, May 3. Members from each of the different strands of our equity and inclusion work will share stories and reflections. All are welcome, whether you have been engaged in these groups this year or not.
Several families have shared stories with me about Braiding Different Strands serving as their entrée into the BDS community. Braiding provides a safe space to engage in thoughtful and introspective work together, ultimately helping us better understand our own experiences and the experiences of our children at Belmont Day and beyond. I encourage you to join us for the potluck and consider joining this work next year. Between SEED, affinity groups, and Braiding Different Strands evenings, opportunities to engage abound, and those strands, quite intentionally, enrich the greater fabric of our school.