An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Ted Chen, assistant director/history teacher/personal development department head

Every city has its unique flavor and atmosphere, shaped by the intersection of factors including food, music, art, people, and history. I recently spent a few days in Nashville, and the city’s reputation as a vibrant, creative place shaped by music and food is true. But more importantly, Nashville has been shaped by its history. It was a critical city during the civil rights movement when sit-ins took place to desegregate lunch-counters. The sit-ins were ultimately successful and helped the movement move toward its goals of racial equity, justice, and inclusion.

Last week, Nashville was again a hub for racial equity, justice, and inclusion. The National Association of Independent School’s People of Color Conference (PoCC) took place from Nov. 28 to Dec. 1. Educators from all over the country and world - including a group of us from Lakeside - gathered in Nashville to continue to explore and wrestle with topics of diversity. The topics of the workshops varied greatly. Lakeside Middle School history teacher Merissa Reed and I presented a workshop called “Rethinking American History: Creating an Equitable and Inclusive Narrative for All.” (You can read more about some of our thinking in Merissa’s recent blog.) Other PoCC workshops covered topics like counteracting implicit bias in decision-making; creating effective, equitable, and inclusive learning resources programs; and strategies to have conversations when different political viewpoints are represented.

While the content of the workshops focused on different areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion, the people in attendance all shared a common mindset. Through my conversations with other participants, we all spoke of our commitment to make our institutions better places for all.

One way we demonstrated this commitment involved participants reflecting on themselves and their own identities. We are all on our own journeys to be more inclusive and understanding about topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. And to further our journey, we need to be vulnerable and reflective about who we are. As one of the students attending the conference said, “In order to love each other for who we are, we have to be vulnerable to love our authentic selves.”

I left the conference with a greater understanding of who I am in my journey, inspired to continue my individual reflection as well as our work together to create a more equitable, just, and inclusive school and society.