The DEI Committee
Laurence School's Parent Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee provides parents with a voice in the school's work in this area. With the participation of dozens of families, along with the school's administration, the committee reflects the commitment of Laurence School to develop students and a community that is truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
The Committee serves multiple functions at our school, including: contributing ideas to and providing a parent sounding board for curriculum development; helping to organize and support the Sister School Program; running our Global Perspectives Family Cultural Share Program; and organizing our annual Global Faire. Recently, the committee also started a Think Tank group.
A couple of years ago, the Parent DEI Committee and school administration began the committee's “Think Tank” meetings to provide a safe space for open conversation and discussion on issues around DEI. These discussions have been guided byschool-wide parent education talks, community reads, parent attendance at conferences, including Harvard-Westlake's Pollyanna Conference, with past topics focusing on:
- Implicit Bias and Discrimination
- Gender Biases
Global Perspectives/FAMILY CULTURAL SHARES
Laurence parents (and grandparents) share highlights of their heritage and history with students in informative, fun presentations. Every year, there are four presentations in the library across all grade levels. The Global Garden Committee is also working to plan new ways incorporate more sharing within each grade level, as well as expand the types of presentations beyond ethnic and national identities.
Our annual Spring Open House includes an opportunity for the entire school to see the global education work done by the students, including the Sister School projects, as well as share exposure to various cultures. The Faire also includes our Global Tasting, where Laurence families bring a traditional dish, desert or drink from their culture to share with the whole school. The event also includes interactive opportunities for students, including a sari dress-up activity, piñata making, and a sushi-making booth. Fifth grade students also put on their annual Farmers' Market, proceeds from which go in part to benefit their sister school in Africa.
The school-home partnership is incredibly important in educating our Laurence students. Laurence's annual Parent Education Series strives to bring parents interesting authors and experts to speak about the latest and most important topics in parenting and raising children, including topics related to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Past and current speakers include:
- Dr. Steven Jones, a national expert on leadership, diversity and inclusion, will be providing parent education during the 2020-21 school year to empower parents to discover, support and celebrate multiple layers of identity, and motivate and inspire parents with practical tools to manage "intent" and "impact" when communicating across cultures within the community and at home.
- Alison Park of Blink Consulting, a non-profit created by educators to help schools critically rethink diversity, visited Laurence for the day to spend time with 5th and 6th grade students, faculty and staff, as well as parents. Her focus for these discussions was "Just Kidding! Conversations about Identity and Diversity."
- Stanford Professor of Psychology Claude M. Steele, author of Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us & What We Can Do, came to Laurence to speak about the concepts in his book during a recent parent-faculty talk. (His book was chosen as an all-community read.)