Replacing the fear of “messing up” with the courage of leaning in

An update on equity, inclusion, and belonging efforts at CDS.

In taking a stroll through the hallways of our school, one would quickly notice a multitude of art and posters depicting historically significant figures from many walks of life, from Thurgood Marshall to Malcolm X, Harriet Tubman to Rosa Parks, George Washington Carver to Frederick Douglass. 

In recognition of Black History Month, these items have been purposefully placed throughout the buildings to celebrate this important observance and to highlight elements of American history too often overlooked. Although a meaningful signal, if this surface-level acknowledgment was all that we could point to as proof of our work towards a truly diverse and equitable community, we would be falling short. 

How do we truly embed Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging into our community? By replacing the fear of messing up with the courage of leaning in. By honoring our mission statement and core values through accountability, and by authentically celebrating the identity of each community member through consistency and connection. 

Inspired by attendance at the annual Student Diversity Leadership Conference, many of our students are meeting regularly as part of the You Belong Student Advisory Board, a group that has recently hosted student forums and made presentations to the Board of Trustees and to the CDS community as the focus of the most recent PA Presents. For more information about the You Belong Student Advisory Board and the activities taking place, you can follow the Instagram account @youbelong_cds.

Concurrently, a significant number of Upper School faculty are volunteering as part of an Antiracist Working Group with a goal of creating policies and procedures that allow for a better understanding of the challenges our community faces in regards to race, as well as a pathway to dealing with those issues as they arise. Lower School faculty are participating in Anti-Racist, Anti-Bias training facilitated by Britt Hawthorne that is geared toward empowering educators for an antiracist pedagogy and inclusive curriculum. 

So much is yet to be done, but at CDS, we are continuously designing a sustainable school that doesn’t shy away from difficult topics, so we can build a place we can all call home. We look forward to updating you along the way.