Hershey Embarks on Social Discovery Journey
“The crises we are witnessing is not one of those that make the passage from one era to another, it can only be compared with the opening of a new Biological or Geological period, when new beings come upon the scene, more evolved and more perfect, while upon the earth are realized conditions of life, which had never existed before.” Dr. Maria Montessori, Peace and Education (1932)
The events that unfolded over the last year brought a heightened awareness of the social injustice and inequity that has plagued our nation’s history and profoundly affected fellow citizens.
Dr. Montessori, and many other scientists, demonstrated that an education that removes the obstacles for healthy development, and that allows the student’s innate energies for good to develop in accordance with their natural capacity, will reveal a “new child” who is intellectually independent and emotionally drawn to contribute to moral and social conditions of their environments.
That is why this year’s whole school professional development day centered on social-emotional development that included emotional intelligence and communication skills, as well as social leadership capacities and abilities. We learned about Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) from specialists with Cleveland consulting firm Sage and Maven.
A number of staff as well as some Upper School students also took the opportunity to dive deeper into learning about Restorative Justice with specialist Tarek Maassarani. Maassarani’s work on the science of peace, on both the national and international level, includes organizations such as Restorative DC and Communities in Transition.
Several topics were covered in the two half-day sessions, including Privilege, LGBTQ language, how we create our identity, the difference between explicit and implicit bias, the difference between “not racist” versus “anti-racist,” the different types of racism, and restorative practices.
Hershey staff deepened their understanding of how to create practices and environments that strengthen community inclusion and connection so that our students will learn even more about community responsibility and leadership.
“It is this conviction that imbues us with hope that education may be the most effective instrument to attain the union of all humanity. To this end, education must channel the powerful creative energies of the child toward an ultimate spiritual independence, utilizing to its utmost (their) miraculous capacity for adaptation, according to an ideal of altruism and love.” – Dr. Maria Montessori, Citizen of the Word, San Remo Lectures, Montessori-Pierson Publishing Co. (1949)
A DEIB circle (a.k.a. “committee”) has also been formed to help further progress in this area. The circle is made up of staff and Upper school students who select consultants and trainers, meet and attend workshops, webinars, and trainings for the purpose of sharing and advancing DEIB work and initiatives at Hershey Montessori School.
“There was a group of seven students who participated in the 3-hour workshop, which focused on being actively affirming and inclusive of all identities,” said Lucy McNees, a senior at Hershey.
She and two other Upper School students, sophomore Kylie Golden-Appleton and senior Cecilia Carney, lead an antiracism initiative and meet with the DEIB circle biweekly to discuss the school’s efforts and goals.
“In this way, we can move forward with the whole community on the same page,” says McNees.
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 in DEIB.
Self-awareness and growing in social emotional intelligence as a community can be wonderfully restorative and inclusive. It is important that Hershey maintains an environment where all feel safe, represented, heard and valued.
Watch for a Hershey DEIB resource webpage to come in the near future.