In December, five Stuart faculty members and four Stuart students spent two and a half days listening to inspirational speakers and attending workshops and film screenings at the People of Color Conference (PoCC) and Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) in Atlanta.
The theme of this year’s PoCC was “Advancing Human and Civil Rights – Fulfilling the Dream Together,” which resonated with Stuart’s faculty upon arrival.
Lower School STEM Teacher Elena Nickerson attended the conference for the first time. The speakers, workshops and affinity group discussions affirmed the importance of working to ensure equity, diversity and social justice for all,” Nickerson said.
Topics included equity and inclusion in the classroom and school community and broader discussions on topics related to diversity in education, specifically independent schools. The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) described the conference as an event by and about people of color and inclusive of all,” aimed at helping participants understand their roles in advancing in their schools equity and justice around racial and ethnic identity.
“Not only was the POCC Conference enlightening, invigorating and soulful, it was most importantly educational because each workshop provided action steps for enrichment and the progress of independent schools,” said director of athletics Justin Leith.
Assistant head of Upper School and Stuart Center for Girls’ Leadership Faculty in Residence Courtney Portlock has attended the conference for 11 years now. “Each year I look forward to learning, sharing, and fellowship. We return from PoCC rejuvenated, refreshed and energized to continue the necessary work of diversity, equity and inclusion…”
English Language Learner Support Specialist Amanda McCarther and Spanish teacher Cathy Quinlan were also among the five Stuart faculty members in attendance this year.
Senior Vanessa Williams, juniors Elizabeth Mele and Kendra Brenya, and sophomore Sahana Mathiarasan attended the Student Diversity Leadership Conference which ran alongside the PoCC. This year’s theme was “Dreaming Out Loud: Waking Up to a New Era of Civil Rights.” At the SDLC, students “...develop an appreciation of their own identities, build effective cross-cultural communication skills, better understand the nature and development of effective strategies for social justice, and practice expression through the arts, while networking with their peers.”