The Times They Are A Changin'

At Miami Country Day School, we care immensely about the safety and security of our students. This includes creating a learning environment that not only ensures physical safety, but enables children to develop their intellectual, social, emotional and spiritual potentials. These potentials are at the core of our mission statement and are upheld on campus by the Creating Healthy Acceptance ‘n Global Equity Team (CHANGE), a newly formed organization centered on the execution and accountability of Diversity and Inclusion in our community.
CHANGE creates programming at Miami Country Day to uphold and promote global equity and justice, while educating and empowering our learning community. Led by Glen Turf, and faculty and staff members Jessica Furth, Gregg Lightfoot, Michael Fallik, Barbara Byrne, Sarah Wright, Karin Davis, Juliette Fulton, and Kelly John, CAUSE initiatives have already begun to gain traction.

Diversity is defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as “the condition of having or being composed of differing elements.” Dimensions such as gender, nationality, race, ethnicity, age, religion, geographic roots, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status are all different forms of diversity in human beings. Inclusion is leveraging these differences in a way that increases contributions and opportunities for all. Inclusion is the goal of diversity programming and activities.

This year, programs such as the Poverty Simulation, Conver-Stations, iBelong, the Privilege Walk, Mix It Up lunches, and Pizza with a Point, a Friday forum for all of those interested in discussing current events related to the issues of global equity and justice, have brought intentional conversation and connection to larger societal issues to the surface of daily student and faculty interaction. Local diversity organizations like the YES institute and the South Florida People of Color organization have conducted workshops on gender orientation and implicit bias.

Faculty and staff are not the only ones taking this necessary conversation to the next level. Creating Awareness, Understanding, and Social Equity (CAUSE) is a student led leadership council in the Upper School that helps coordinate events and unify affinity groups. Some CAUSE members even had an opportunity to attend the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) People of Color Conference (POCC)/Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) in December 2017.

“The purpose of the conference is to expand peoples’ mindsets, learn other perspectives and learn how to be leaders in our own communities and how to bring points of view from there back to our school,” says Junior and CAUSE member, Lauryn Russell. Workshops and topics at the POCC ranged from disability, socio-economic status, gender, sexuality, age, ethnicity, nationalities, and abilities. Students heard presentations from DeRay Mckesson and Ta-Nehisi Coates who wrote the novel, Between the World and Me. Students left the SDLC with tangible ideas and building blocks for becoming advocates for Diversity and Inclusion at Miami Country Day. “At the opening ceremony, they had this activity where they would call out social classes (identifiers) and the groups that were mentioned would stand up if they felt they were a part of one of those groups, maybe we could employ that at Country Day that would be cool,” adds Junior and CAUSE member, Eduardo Dana.

With the creation of CHANGE and CAUSE, the Miami Country Day community is beginning to learn and understand that conversations about identity and diversity are difficult, but necessary. The more platforms and consistent activities that are introduced, the more it will become a part of our normal routine. “I think overall, we’re really happy with the fact that we’ve started something with CAUSE and the fact that CAUSE is a thing this year really shows that we’re striving towards that goal of diversity and inclusivity. Just the fact that people are interested in it, it’s good and we can really take advantage of it and expand,” states Junior and CAUSE member, Isadora Figueroa. Senior and CAUSE member, Rashad Heagle believes the conversation should begin at a younger age, “I think implementing things related to social equity and diversity at a younger age should happen since we’re a Lower School to Upper School institution, getting lower schoolers and middle schoolers more involved in the conversations. They don’t have to be as deep as the conversations we have in Pizza with a Point, but just starting the conversation and implementing it into the curriculum. For them to be able to understand, hear, and be present during it all.”

The conversation and community’s education about Diversity and Inclusion is here to stay at Miami Country Day School. It’s not something that is going to be solved in one day, but it’s continuing and growing into a vital part of our school. To learn more about Diversity at Miami Country Day, please click on this link.
Miami Country Day School is a college preparatory learning community committed to educating the whole child. Through the core values of honor, respect, wisdom and compassion, we prepare students to be lifelong learners. We inspire our children to develop their intellectual, physical, aesthetic, social, emotional and spiritual potentials by valuing every student every day.
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