Diversity and Student Leadership
One of Gann's key values is an appreciation of diversity in all forms. In celebration of this value, last week, four Gann students and three faculty and staff members attended the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) in Nashville, Tennessee. Sponsored by the National Association of Independent Schools, the conference is the leading multiracial and multicultural gathering of independent high school student leaders in America, attracting more than 1,600 students.
The conference focuses on self-reflection, forming alliances, and creating community-- and ultimately on building social justice through dialogue. The students felt empowered not only by the formal program but also by the very existence of this huge cross-cultural gathering. As Gann junior Zoey Zilber said, “For me, this conference was about identifying all parts of my experience. Being Chinese and Jewish are not mutually exclusive.” Other Gann students appreciated the opportunity to interact with multi-racial, Latina, and Nepalese Jews from across the country.
NAIS also holds a concurrent conference for faculty and staff. At that People of Color Conference (POCC), Gann’s Learning Center Chair Gracie Alcid presented a skill-building session on applying thinking routines for cross-cultural collaborative problem-solving. This session complements Alcid’s work at Gann, where she is facilitating a year-long faculty development seminar on “Seeking Education Equity and Diversity” (SEED).
Gann’s diversity agenda is not a one-time event, but rather extends across the school. The Student Voices series is an opportunity for students to share personal stories about race, gender, sexual identity, economic status, and other areas of diversity. Shma Koleinu (Hear Our Voices) is an annual day to hear the stories and honor the voices of the LGBTQ community. And external speakers regularly share perspectives on topics of equity and social justice.
Explains Assistant Head of School Frank Tipton, "As a school built on a foundation of Jewish pluralism, embracing diversity is in our DNA. Our continuing work on diversity, equity, and inclusion is really an extension of that foundation."