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Spotlight on DEI

From the establishment of our new DEI Council to the amazing learning opportunities taking place in and out of our classrooms, we have been busy working toward our diversity, equity, and inclusion goals for the 2019-2020 school year. Here are a few highlights from the first trimester:

DEI Council Highlights

  • Finalization of core council members and subcommittee members (click here for list)
  • Review and analysis of Catherine Cook Mission and Diversity Statements
  • Brainstorm of action items for each subcommittee
  • Communication strategy to keep community updated on DEI efforts
  • Subcommittees to hold first meetings on January 7, 2020

Program Highlights

As part of their Identity Unit, 2nd Grade students created the Everyone Toy Store to help combat stereotypes and underrepresentation in the toy industry. Students designed and created prototypes for a wide variety of toys and games that would be inviting to all races, genders, and abilities.

8th Graders completed an overnight outing to the Darst Center, a local organization that provides windows into the lives of individuals who have experienced violence, incarceration, homelessness, and other issues in our city. The goal is for students to better understand social justice issues like these, see them from a different perspective, and consider solutions.

Preschool and Junior Kindergarten students have been examining how their families are both similar and different. Preschoolers explored the many different forms a family can take and shared some of their favorite things about their families and how they spend time together. In Junior Kindergarten, each student has the opportunity to be Family of the Week and works with their family members to create a bag of items that represents the culture(s), beliefs, values, and traditions of their family.

In November, five Middle School boys participated in the Young Men of Color Symposium at Francis W. Parker School. The event provided an opportunity for students to discuss their similar experiences, grow in their understanding of their personal identities, and develop leadership skills. Students also enjoyed an inspiring keynote address by actor and author Hill Harper.

Faculty and staff completed a full day of DEI professional development with Dr. Derrick Gay; their third session with him in the past 10 months. Topics included the concept of “blind spots,” the difference between safe and brave spaces in affinity and alliance groups, and exploration of personal identity development.

5th Grade Library Enrichment has been studying the role of identity in the literature they read and discussing how it relates to themselves and others. Students are learning about the complexity of identity, especially as different areas of identity layer and intersect. So far this year, they have explored stereotypes, gender identity, gender inequality, ability, and neighborhoods.

Additional DEI Lessons and Experiences Taking Place Around the School

  • Windows and mirrors
  • Fairness and equity
  • Use of voice through activism
  • Immigration
  • Exploration of various holiday celebrations
  • Study of Indigenous Peoples
  • Building empathy through social emotional learning
  • Intentional reading of literature by authors from diverse backgrounds and experiences
  • Ongoing identity exploration and discussion in affinity and alliance groups
  • Field trips to the National Museum of Mexican Art and Illinois Holocaust Museum
  • Service learning with Food for Friends and Sweet Readers