“Sometimes it’s important to take a step back from the daily routine to ground ourselves in the priorities in our school's mission,” shared Associate Director of Curriculum, Professional Development, and Multicultural Innovations Shanie Israel who, with science teacher and SDLC Faculty Advisor Tony Jones and Assistant Head of School for Diversity, Inclusion, and Antiracism Paris McLean, accompanied 33 students from the Student Diversity Leadership Committee (SDLC) at the 2nd annual We’re Better Together conference held in conjunction with Pingry and Princeton Day School on Pingry's Purnell Campus. Paris McLean, shared the two-fold goal of the conference: providing students with greater access to teaching and learning within the sphere of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging and promoting opportunities for collaboration, partnership, and friendship between the three schools in a student-centered space.
One of the senior leaders of SDLC, Dillyn Kim, shared, “We spent the day not only talking amongst our peers about our experiences at our respective schools but also creating long-lasting relationships with the students from Pingry and PDS.” It was clear that the students from each school are motivated to address challenges and help their communities become connected. Dillyn and the other co-leaders, Kellen Ievers and Emma Choy, emphasized how positive the conference was as they participated in three distinct workshops with the entire group. The leaders plan to present their experience at an Upper School Assembly and noted they will be focusing on cancel culture and its impact on young adults and relationships in and out of the classroom. Kellen said, “Bridging, fostering relationships across differences within the student body, is something that will be important for making people feel like they belong and can be comfortable, and it's not addressed nearly enough.”
The intention to address this topic was bolstered by the session led by Paris McLean and Shanie Israel, How to Cancel "Cancel Culture" in Your Classroom. While this is typically a presentation given to adults, students play a vital role in developing and maintaining a healthy classroom culture. Paris McLean shared, “I can see a world within MKA where our SDLC students take their strategies and mindsets from this workshop and apply them in the classroom, fostering a safe learning environment for all.” Opportunities like We're Better Together further develop Ethical Leadership skills, broaden experience with work around diversity, equity, and inclusion, and foster connections across friend groups, schools, and identities. Thank you to our partners in this work and to The Pingry School for hosting the conference.