Six Steward students recently attended a virtual Student Diversity Leadership Conference, which was hosted by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS).
The six (Hayden Ashworth ’23
, Mikal Banks ’23
, Sabina Mohanty ’23
, Terrell White ’23
, Adhya Yaratha ’23
, and Ayanna Young ’24
) learned about a variety of topics related to the conference theme, “Believing and Belonging in Our Schools: Reckoning with Injustice, Reconciling with Love.” They also participated in “affinity spaces,” connecting with hundreds of students from independent schools across the country with whom they identified either racially or in the LGBTQ Awareness affinity space. Tiffany Goodman
, coordinator of Steward’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
program, explains that the students were nominated to attend the conference based in part on their involvement across campus in student life and in affinity clubs.
The conference “exposed students to national and recognized thinkers and speakers, plus students outside of Steward who care about diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice,” explained Ms. Goodman “It gave them space to process their experiences at a predominantly white institution and asked them how they would like to engage with that dynamic … and it allowed for them to have affinity groups, where they could tell their stories, hear others’ stories, and be affirmed knowing they are not alone.”
While the students were attending their conference, Ms. Goodman and the following Steward administrators and faculty attended the virtual “People of Color Conference,” also hosted by the NAIS: Head of School Dan Frank
, Director of Development Jenni Booker Baker
, Director of the Center for the Advancement of Learning Yaa Akinfolajimi
, Director of Technology Shahwar Qureshi
, Grade 5 Teacher Emily Oliff
, Middle School Social Studies Teacher Wallace Inge
, Middle School Social Studies Teacher Craig Redmond Cilley
, Upper School World Languages Teacher Diana Niemas
, and Upper School English Teacher Melissa Calkins
. Invited speakers included Broadcast Journalist Soledad O’Brien. Sessions included Partnership With Parents for Stronger Communities, Cultural Authenticity and Tik Tok, and Afrofuturism.
This type of beyond-the-classroom experience “reinvigorates not only the students but the administrators and teachers in coming back to our communities to make positive changes for all,” said Ms. Goodman.