What is Diversity at Inly and Why Does it Matter?

DiversityWordle5As members of Inly’s Council on Diversity and Equity, we talk a lot about what diversity means at Inly. We hear questions from the community, and we ask questions of ourselves. Please read on for snippets of the ongoing conversation, enjoy the accompanying Wordle images, have a chat with someone who serves on the CDE, and come to the Parent Insight Event “Beyond Sticks and Stones” at 8:30 am on Friday January 31.

What does “diversity” mean at Inly?

DiversityWordle7“When we talk about what diversity and multiculturalism mean to Inly, we are talking about all kinds of diversity—racial, socioeconomic, gender identity, learning differences, and more. At our Council on Diversity and Equity meetings, we have focused a lot on the words we use, the questions we ask, and the values we prioritize. What’s our school’s culture? How do we make sure that every family and staff member feels safe and valued? How do we build on our Montessori roots to create a school that inspires children and families to be global citizens?” —Shelley Sommer, Head Librarian and Alumni Parent

“Like the mosaic of the Inly logo that hangs in the foyer of the main building, Inly is multi-faceted. It is made up of a diverse community of families, teachers, and staff with different backgrounds, life experiences, and beliefs. There is incredible richness to enjoy when we recognize that diversity and dig into it.” —Nancy St. John, Children’s House Assistant Teacher

Why does “diversity” matter to our students and our school?

“We embrace diversity and purposeful diversity education at Inly because we want to liberate kids from limiting thoughts and fears and open them to all of life’s richness and possibility.” —Julie Kelly-Detwiler, Assistant Head of School and Alumni Parent

“Our mission statement is pretty powerful. It states that ‘Inly is a partnership of children, teachers, and families dedicated to the joyful discovery of each child’s innate capabilities and potential. Our community of learners inspires and nurtures children to become global citizens by embracing the philosophy and methods of Dr. Maria Montessori, in harmony with other compatible and innovative practices.’

“Why is that our mission? I think it’s because Inly has the courage to look at difference — something that scares so many of us — as a strength, and, more than that, as essential to individual, educational, and societal health. People who embrace difference in others are likely to look inside themselves with honesty, and to have the courage to know and accept themselves. In turn, they are likely to look out into the world, from that place of understanding and confidence, with open curiosity.” —Lory Newmyer, Board Member and Alumni Parent

“As Cheryl Duckworth writes in the Encyclopedia of Peace Education, “values such as global citizenship, personal responsibility and respect for diversity, [Montessori] argued, must be both an implicit and explicit part of every child’s (and adult’s) education. These values in Montessori education are every bit as crucial as the subjects of math, language or science.’” —Julie Kelly-Detwiler

What skills do students gain through diversity and multicultural education?

“When he came to speak with us about diversity at Inly three years ago, Robert Principe left us with a skill base he calls ‘multicultural competencies for students.’ This skill base includes communication skills, self-reflection skills, and ally skills, among others.” —Julie Kelly-Detwiler

“Diversity is a way to develop critical thinking skills. It’s a means to foster empathy. It’s a foundation for global citizenship.” —Liz Knox, Director of Admission and Alumni Parent

“Appreciating difference and commonality is who we are and what we do as Montessorians: we observe, we seek multiple perspectives, we attempt solutions, we try new experiences, we seek to know and understand our own narrative and that of others.” —Shannon Harper-Bison, Board Member and Current Parent

What are some of the diversity-related conversations happening around campus now?

“As a teacher, I am constantly encouraging students to take other people’s perspectives and to honor the differences they see in each other. So in that sense, diversity work happens every day in every classroom.” —Amanda Pillsbury, Upper Elementary Teacher

“The Inly Players’ Creative Team has been consulting with the Council on Diversity and Equity to plan out how we will capitalize on the teachable moments that producing Peter Pan provides us with.” —Donna Milani Luther, Head of School

“So far this year, six Inly adults and seven Inly middle school students attended two diversity-themed AISNE conferences. Conference workshops that the adults gained a lot from included ‘Books, Rehearsal, Action!: Disrupting Gender Role Stereotyping in Elementary School,’ ‘How Teachers and Parents Can Talk with Children about Issues of Difference,’ and ‘Cultural Humility — Using It to Learn about Self and Others Across Difference.’ Conference workshops that the students particularly enjoyed included ‘Our Common DNA Heritage,’ ‘Why We Love Rebels: Music, Identity, and Social Climate’ and ‘Future Global Leaders: Sua Sponte Forum.’” —Paran Quigley, Middle School Teacher and CDE Co-Chair

“A big theme of our professional development is ‘teachers teaching teachers.’ As a community, we’re made stronger by the individual knowledge and passion that our colleagues bring to the table. Members of the CDE have led recent workshops for our faculty on topics including inclusive classroom language, book resources for students that we have in our own library, and academic articles to discuss amongst ourselves.” —Jimmy Juste, Upper Elementary Teacher

For more information on the Council on Diversity & Equity, click here.

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