I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.
The GDS class formerly known as 9th Grade Seminar is one that may be viewed as a sort of “right of passage” for every student who enters the doors of 4200 Davenport Street. During the very first faculty meeting of the year, Russell referred the faculty to the Sankofa bird, a symbol representing the need to reflect on the past in order to build a successful future. This is also an apt symbol for the changes in our 9th grade seminar—we must understand why and how we came to be who we are today and honor our past while changing our present and future.
The course is now titled, Diversity and Equity: The Intersections of Identity, and affectionately known as DEI^2, thanks to faculty member Will Ley. The course is taught by a team of eight faculty/administrative members committed to engaging our 9th grade students in discussions centered on the intersections of cultural and social identifiers. We chose to center our work on these topics because the start of High School is a key time to examine identity and how it reflects personal as well as community values.
Continuously building upon a campus culture that embodies equity, inclusion, and engagement is essential for equipping today’s students with the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully and compassionately address the increasingly complex challenges of our global society.
The changes in the 9th grade course reflect our community’s investment in the understanding of our own implicit biases and their impact. The faculty is also aligned with this goal, as evidenced by the assigned summer reading, Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People.
Within DEI^2, students have challenged themselves to not only understand the intersections of identity, but also to engage in discussions on the complexities of cultural competence and the real intricacies inherent in diversity.
As the 9th Grade DEI^2 team works on this curriculum, we thank the former 9th Grade Seminar for laying the foundation in the study and discussions of diversity, equity, and inclusion, allowing for a necessary change and evolution in pedagogy.
When this post goes “live,” I will have led an In-Service Workshop with all faculty and staff focused on implicit biases, with Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People, at the center of the conversation. It is my hope that this will result in more conversations where we as a community continue to work towards living out the GDS mission that has been put forth before us.
And so, lifting as we climb, onward and upward we go, struggling and striving, and hoping that the buds and blossoms of our desires will burst into glorious fruition ere long.
—Mary Church Terrell