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Brendan Largay, Head of School

Why a PD Day on a Friday in December?

During a week following a holiday break, and with a snow day thrown in for good measure, you may be wondering about the timing of today’s in-service day for faculty.

The answer has as much to do with the faculty that were not on campus today as it does with those who were. Today is day three of the four-day NAIS People of Color Conference (POCC) taking place in Seattle. As we usually do, a contingent of BDS faculty of color is attending the conference which serves as equal parts professional development, affirmation, and restoration. POCC is the National Association of Independent School’s largest annual conference by attendance–over 6,000 attendees every year–and the majority of those in attendance are faculty of color from schools around the country.

I had the good fortune to attend the past two POCC conferences. It was at last year’s in Nashville, that I had a conversation with colleagues from other schools about our shared wish that the faculty back on our campuses could be engaging in similar work and dialogue. POCC is a truly immersive professional development experience that demands brave and authentic engagement from participants. Our faculty have reported that ‘re-entry’ to school on the Monday following the conference has been complicated and challenging for them. I believe this is because, at least in part, our colleagues of color were away exploring at great depth the relationship between their identity and their practice, and they returned to a community that had not been engaged in this work.

Which brings me back to today. Led exclusively by Director of Equity and Inclusion Dr. Carlos Hoyt, today’s experience was part of regular monthly PD that is built into our faculty meeting schedule. Our goals are fostering an equitable community and deepening our culture of inclusive practice. By scheduling this particular day to be engaged in a dialogue about one of the most challenging aspects of inclusivity—race—we make an important statement to our colleagues of color. We affirm that we are all part of the effort that moves Belmont Day along to be its most aspirational best—a vibrant, diverse, inclusive school that recognizes that equity and excellence are not mutually exclusive ideas, but mutually reliant ones. Upon their return, our faculty attending POCC can enter into a dialogue that has already begun with colleagues that have done their own intentional work. 

Next year, our in-service professional development day will not take place on a Friday. In all likelihood, it will, as it has in years past, fall on the Monday following a vacation like winter break. This year, it fell today because of our commitment as a whole community to ensure that every student will benefit from a faculty deeply committed to the excellence that diversity brings to Belmont Day.

Have a great weekend.

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