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The Lasting Impact of the People of Color Conference (PoCC) and Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC)

In late November, faculty members, administrators, a Board of Trustees member, and six students attended two impactful and important conferences in St. Louis, MO that provided incredible opportunities for learning and connecting. Reflecting on the experience, Paris McLean, Assistant Head of School for Diversity, Inclusion, and Antiracism noted MKA’s commitment and shared, “I could not be more proud of our school. We will remain on the leading edge and look for ways to expand the school's reach within the space of diversity, equity, antiracism, and belonging.”

The 2023 National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) People of Color Conference (PoCC), with a history spanning over 35 years, brought together independent school educators, administrators, trustees, and more under the umbrella of diversity, equity, and inclusion work within school communities. The theme, Gateways to Freedom: The Confluence of Truth, Knowledge, Joy, and Power, guided an array of opportunities for attendees, including seminars, master classes, affinity groups, and more than 100 workshops on a range of topics that explore the diverse experiences of people of color in independent schools. PoCC provides educators at every level—from teachers to trustees—with new knowledge and skills around leadership, professional development, and networking for people of color and allies of all backgrounds in independent schools.


Simultaneously, six students from MKA attended the NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC), a multiracial, multicultural gathering of student leaders from eligible independent high schools. The students developed cross-cultural communication skills and strategies for social justice through dialogue and the arts and learned allyship and networking principles. The theme, Bending the Arc Toward Justice: Radical Optimism, Transformational Joy, Resilience, and Brilliance, shaped life-changing experiences for the students. “The activities we took part in helped me learn the value of embracing discomfort and silence and helped me understand the sheer complexity of human identity, and how perspective and identity play a massive role in one's character, actions, and emotions,” shared MKA junior Tré Jamison. “In addition, I also formed a better understanding of the power that taking action holds.” 

The students also led a session for MKA adults, outlining takeaways and ideas to be implemented at school. Through MKA's new Together for Change Program, the SDLC students will work with a mentor over the next two academic years to ensure their visions become realities and to support them along their journey. This is a talented and dynamic group of young people developing as ethical leaders and already hard at work. When asked about the lasting impact of attending PoCC,  Paris McLean said, “While I know our adults will think of new programming, lessons, and engagement in and out of the classroom, what I am most excited about are the insights and actions of our young people.”