BFS

A Year in the Life of Diversity, Equity, & Belonging at BFS

This article appears in the summer 2022 issue of The Light, our Brooklyn Friends School magazine. 

I write this as the school year culminates and the thoughtfully planned rituals commence: Moving ups, graduations and farewells; touchpoints which connect us and evidence the extraordinariness of BFS. I am so grateful to work in my purpose, serve our mission, values and claim this school as a community.

As I reflect on the year, the one gesture that had the most impact in the work of DEB was receiving the invitation to collaborate and co-create. From curating a whole day of professional development to partnership with divisional leaders to thought sharing with colleagues, these invitations legitimized the purpose of the office and made visible for me the integrity of this community’s commitment. Values of equity, community, wholeness, imagination, learning and justice enacted in authentic ways through the collective responsibility we all hold in our hands.

In the spirit of centering all the ways we do the work, I share snapshots from divisional life which illustrate the ways souls, humanity, character, and criticality are nurtured in our school—not necessarily as guided through the DEB office—but as a collective experience; work that is the heart of the Brooklyn Friends School mission and takes us from where we have always been in ways that are grounded in the “now” of our world for learning that is timely and enduring.

Preschool

The foundational learning for Preschool was developing community and friendship which incorporates the NAEYC anti bias goals. Query: How are we the same and different and how do we celebrate each other and learn what is fair? Evidence of this is embedded in the curriculum, particularly in the choice of books and ongoing team reflection. Activity: AntiBias Principles in Early Childhood, Identity exploration, representation and conversations about family and what kindness truly means.

Lower School

In the Lower School, Kindergarten Head Teacher, Laleña Garcia, and Associate Teacher, Olivia Sweet, engaged in an activity at morning meeting reflecting on the meaning of Collective Value. “The goal was to show that everybody is important and has the right to be safe and happy, no matter what religion they are, how much money they have, where they come from, their abilities or disabilities, or who they love. “Just like in our community, everyone has to be safe!” one child exclaimed. Children then took some time to think about things that are important to their KC community and work collaboratively on posters demonstrating the values as a community. As noted in class news, many children were moved to write words, as well as draw pictures, demonstrating their growing understanding of the power of words. After the activity was completed, the children looked at them together to share what they noticed, and discuss why they chose the images and words they did.”

Middle School

The Middle School’s Affinity Club Program included G.A.Y.E.S.T. LGBTQIA+ and IMANI for Black and Brown Girls of Color, were spaces for affirmation and identity development of youth. Connection, community, voice, justice, and awareness building transpired. As one student named: “We found each other, and that feels good.” Marching in Brooklyn Pride, an activism act, was the culmination of the school year!

Upper School

For Spanish language learning in the Upper School, there were activities in amplifying a “single story” of a chapter of Dominican History and Culture. By inviting partnership in planning, Vanessa incorporated narrative and interview with Dominicans introducing counter-narratives and personal stories to impact the singular story of the Trujillo era.

Looking into next year, I invite your enthusiasm as my focus will be on:

• Illuminating the importance of identity in the work of social justice through the work of scholar, Dr. Liza Talusan

• Organizing the calendar of DEB focused tributes and school-wide events

• Partnering with academic leaders in the intentional activation of AntiBias, Anti-Racist, and Culturally Responsive Practices, including aligning community tributes with curriculum

• Scheduling cross-community training and implementation of the Affinity group program for students, families and colleagues

• Featuring DEB focused Connect & Talks to amplify parent and family education

• Deepening learning of Restorative Practice across our community as a part of our culture of reflection, restoration and repair

• Designing interdisciplinary learning opportunities across content areas and dream with my partner, our new Director of Global Civic Engagement and Service Learning, Kevin Murungi

•Centering voice through youth led Equity and Justice Conferences

• Nurturing support of family engagement through continued partnership with BFF family community and beyond I leave you with this query: “What does it look like, sound like, feel like to expand my own understanding of power, equity and justice?”

I hope you have a wonderful summer.

Diversity, Equity, and Belonging at BFS.