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Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB)

Self-awareness and growing in social emotional intelligence as a community can be wonderfully restorative and inclusive. It is important that Hershey Montessori School maintains an environment where all feel safe, represented, heard, and valued.

As a staff and whole school, Hershey will continue to ensure it has healthy, prepared environments that allow for personal reflection and deep dialogue about our personal contribution to growth.

What is DEIB?

In 2020 Hershey Montessori School took on the work of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging as a focus for the coming years, increasing professional development opportunities, community learning opportunities, and providing additional library and classroom resources. We formed the DEIB Circle (“committee”), which is comprised of administrative staff, faculty, and adolescent students, for the purpose of meeting and attending workshops, webinars, and selecting trainings for the sharing and advancing DEIB work and initiatives at Hershey Montessori School. The DEIB Circle will continue to be at the forefront of the work we do for many years to come.

DEIB Vision

The vision of this circle is to steward intentional environments that are safe, inclusive and welcoming of diverse cultures, sexual and gender minorities, race, and religious beliefs for all students, staff and families who have come to Hershey to share its mission and values. Grounded in the work of Dr. Maria Montessori, our school environments and practices center on the value of contribution to human solidarity at developmentally relevant stages, and preparation of the child and adult for participation in community and the advancement of a more equitable humanity. We understand that interpersonal relationship, and contribution toward solidarity in community, is a fundamental need for optimal development from infancy through adulthood. Toward this end, the goal of this circle is to facilitate learning and advance processes to increase diversity, equity and inclusion in our school. 

DEIB Circle Aims

  1. Support the whole community with deepening self-awareness, information and skills to have empathetic dialogue about diversity, equity and inclusion. The first focus will be to prepare ourselves as adults for effectively bringing this work to our children. Offer information, resources and engagement that deepens curiosity and understanding of the needs of others.
  2. Offer explicit awareness opportunities about racism and systems of oppression.
  3. Ensure our school’s awareness and regular assessment of the safety and inclusion of all its members; and provide guidance to individuals or groups in our school who have unmet needs around DEIB.

DEIB Circle Members

  • Lakisha Wingard, Director of Admissions and DEIB Circle Coordinator
  • Paula Leigh-Doyle, Head of School
  • Judy Kline Venaleck, Associate Head of School and Huntsburg Campus Director
  • Zaynab Olin Twaddell, Young Child Community and Children’s House Support Coordinator
  • Cassie DiMarino, Student Support Coordinator

 

Resources

Websites and Organizations to Follow 

The Conscious Kid provides parenting and educational resources through a critical race lens. 

Embracing Equity  is a social change agency dedicated to centering racial justice in education through racial and ethnic identity development and critical consciousness and action. 

Family Equality provides resources, activities, and advocacy work for LGBTQIA+ families. 

GSLEN is a national education organization focused on ensuring safe and affirming schools for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning students. We especially recommend this resource of considerations when working with LGBTQ students of color

Montessori for Social Justice is a group of Montessori educators committed to social justice, racial equity, and an anti-bias, anti-racist application of Montessori pedagogy. 

The National Museum of African American History & Culture shares resources specifically for educator’s looking to bring race topics into their classrooms. Includes conversations around being anti-racist, racial identity, and whiteness. 

PBS shares information for parents and teachers around educating children about Black History Month. 

The Peace Alliance empowers civic engagement toward a culture of peace. Their network includes volunteer grassroots teams in cities, towns, colleges, and high school campuses nationwide. 

Learning for Justice has lesson plans that promote social justice, challenge bias, and engage students in discussions about diversity. 

The Trevor Project is a national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth. 

Making Caring Common Project – A collection of articles, resources, and videos from Harvard University with the mission of helping “children learn to care about others and the common good, treat people well day to day, come to understand and seek fairness and justice, and do what is right even at times at a cost to themselves.” 

Understanding Gender – Resources to help understand the “complex interrelationship between three dimensions: body, identity, and social gender.” 

Human Rights Campaign —  The goal of the Human Rights Campaign is to ensure that every LGBTQ+ person is free to live their life openly, with their equal rights ensured. Visit their website for information and advice on a range of topics, including resources from the HRC Foundation. 

Books for Children 

37 Children’s Books to help talk about Racism & Discrimination – These books may serve as an easy introduction to difficult conversations about race and discrimination with our children 

16 Great LGBTQIA+ Books for Kids and Teens – Age-appropriate books about gender identity and sexual orientation 

Anti-bias Education: A Selection of Children’s Books for Each Topic – A list of age-appropriate books covering the topics of Culture & Language, Racial Identity. Gender Roles, Economic Class, Abilities & Disabilities, Family Structure, Holidays, & Activism 

DiverseBooks.org – A selection of teen and young adult novels with diverse characters and subject matter 

Lee and Low Books –  Lee & Low’s popular downloadable diverse book lists are curated by literacy experts and offer recommended books for social emotional learning, trauma-informed education, social activism, summer reading, and more. Each list is broken down by age range and updated regularly to support ongoing learning. 

 

Books for Adults 

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race – Author Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D. discusses the psychology of racism 

Those Kids, Our Schools: Race and Reform in an American High School– Author Shayla Reese Griffin’s observations of racial interactions at a large, integrated high school and her recommendations for educators on addressing racism that still exists in schools 

Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves – A guide to helping children navigate issues of discrimination 

Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America – Author Jennifer Harvey explores discusses how to talk with children about privilege and the other “conundrums [that] exist when it comes to raising white children in a society full of racial injustice.” 

The Gender Creative Child: Pathways for Nurturing and Supporting Children Who Live Outside Gender – Dr. Diane Ehrensaft’s guide for parents and professionals on the rapidly changing cultural landscape in regards to gender and gender identity 

Articles, News, and Blogs

Learning for Justice’s “Speak Up Guide” – A helpful guide on how to respond when you — as a student, parent, or educator — encounter prejudice, bias, and stereotypes in the school environment

“5 Simple Ways to Help Kids Build Cognitive Empathy” – The capacity for cognitive empathy “enables us to communicate effectively with and support the needs of other people.” It is a helpful tool to help advocate for marginalized groups in our society

“Compassion: The Pathway to Peace” – Using the Montessori model of Peace Education to help develop compassion in your child

“4 Little Things You Can Do to be Anti-Racist as a Family” – How to be vocal about injustice with your children and help them do the same

“A Partial Timeline of Educational Oppression in the U.S.” – Outlines significant historical events from 1779 to 2007

 

Videos

  • Race: The Power of an Illusion (via a free account at Facing History and Ourselves) – This three-part mini docuseries “compels viewers to examine some of their most fundamental beliefs about concepts of race.”
  • 13th (via Netflix or YouTube) – An examination of the U.S. prison system and the history of the 13th amendment
  • I am Not Your Negro (via Netflix) – Biopic of American author and activist, James Baldwin

 

Podcasts

  • Invisibilia by NPR – Combining narrative and scientific research to explore the forces that “control human behavior and shape our ideas, beliefs, and assumptions.”
  • Seeing White by Scene on Radio – Leading scholars discuss the history of race in the United States in a 14-part docuseries
  • Code Switch by NPR – Hosted by a rotating panel of BIPOC journalist, this podcast “explore[s] how [race] impacts every part of society — from politics and pop culture to history, sports and everything in between.
  • Uncivil by Gimlet Media – Historical podcast that shares the stories of marginalized groups often left out of history textbooks
  • Nice White Parents by Serial Productions – Post about the 60-year relationship between white parents ant the public school down the block.

DEIB Events, Workshops, and Professional Development Activities

  • 2020-2021 Antiracist Initiative Adolescent Student Group
  • January 2021: Professional Development Workshop with Sage and Maven, “Unconscious Bias and Who Do We Want to Be?”
  • April 2021: Morning Coffee with Head of School Paula Leigh-Doyle and Dr. Vanessa Jensen: Understanding Gender Identity in Children and Adolescents
  • May 2021: Panel Discussion and Conversation, Gender Identity in Children and Adolescents Part II with panelists Lucy McNees, Class of 2021; Dr. Vanessa Jensen, Clinical/Pediatric Psychologist, Board Certified Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychologist at Cleveland Clinic Children’s and Treasurer of the Geauga County SOGI Support Network; and Gulnar Feerasta, Director of Programs at The LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland and Board Member of LGBTQ+ Allies Lake County.
  • January 2022: Professional Development with all staff that included pre-selected media on various DEIB topics.