There’s no place for hate under the pines, and a new school-wide initiative will further ensure that our campuses remain open, inclusive spaces that are welcoming to all.
One of several initiatives that Director of Inclusion, Equity, and Diversity Dr. Lisa Hill is working on in conjunction with Student Equity Advocate Krysi Crimley, No Place for Hate is an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) program. According to the ADL’s website, “Through school-wide discussion-based and active-learning activities, your students and staff will examine identities, reflect on biased behavior, and learn new ways to challenge bias and bullying in the themselves, others, and society.”
All three divisions are rolling out programming over the next couple of weeks including the Middle and Upper School’s launch, which starts with the Jane Elliott Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes assembly and discussion on Jan. 21. In the Lower School, a Jan. 22 assembly will introduce students via video to the book, Say Something, by Peter Reynolds. Individual classes will later complete a follow-up activity.
“We have a charge and a responsibility to ensure that our students are not only solid scholars, but, also, solid citizens. Understanding the point of view of others is essential to navigate this ever-changing world that is increasingly multi-cultural, multi-racial, etc.,” said Dr. Hill.
Eventually, said Dr. Hill, students in all three divisions will sign a pledge that affirms the commitment to be a No Place for Hate school. Each division will also complete various activities that exhibit the power of peer influence and challenge bias and bullying.
According to Lower School Director Lorri Carroll, much of what is already done in Lower School classrooms through Responsive Classroom “has us well on our way” to being a No Place for Hate school.
“Embedded within the foundation of the Responsive Classroom core is the premise that students learn best when they feel safe, welcome, and known. Our daily morning meeting ritual is critical for students to learn how to respectfully share their commonalities and differences with each other to build a strong classroom community. In addition, Responsive Classroom's interactive modeling approach that we use daily helps students to learn how to respectfully interact with their peers and how to respond if someone isn't being treated fairly,” said Mrs. Carroll.
In addition, several of the recommended novels and picture books in the ADL library are already a part of the Lower School curriculum.
In Middle and Upper School, students will learn about Jane Elliott’s Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes Exercise during two different assembly sessions. This now-famous exercise labels participants as inferior or superior based solely upon the color of their eyes and exposes individuals to the experience of being a minority, according to educator and diversity trainer Jane Elliott’s website. Students will first view the video about her experiment, to be followed a week later with an actual discussion and question opportunity via Zoom with Jane Elliott.
Dr. Hill added that the Diversity Committee, headed by senior Nathaniel Thomas, is also involved in the Upper School planning for this initiative.
“The Diversity Committee is a combination of affinity groups on campus who are committed to working toward making the school one that embraces difference and respects those differences – even if we don’t always agree,” said Dr. Hill.
Middle School students also participated in an ADL-hosted assembly on race and microaggressions prior to Winter Break. Chavon Patterson 2020, Sheryl-Leigh General 2016, and Tyler Williams 2009 returned to campus virtually via Zoom for the Dec. 11 event. Feedback was garnered from students through a survey that was recently administered.
The Middle School Diversity Club under advisors Arijan Ager and Jose Martinez also initiated a poster campaign highlighting civil rights and civil liberties, which is now on display throughout the Middle School campus.
Hamden Hall Country Day School is a nurturing and inclusive community with a dynamic learning environment that promotes academic excellence by understanding each child and fostering their individual growth.