Home Community Equity & Inclusion
At Park Day School, equity and inclusion are core values that shape our relationships and program. We believe that diversity makes the world a better place, and that anti-racist and anti-bias teaching alongside cultural education can foster and shape healthy communities. Through thoughtful educational practices around equity and inclusion, students are better prepared to be informed, courageous, and compassionate people who shape a more equitable and sustainable world.
All of us, regardless of age, must learn specific competencies in order to fully participate in diverse environments. As a faculty and staff, we engage in continuous professional development and work with each other every day to challenge assumptions and engage in equity work to strengthen our school community. Our approach includes best practices from Teaching Tolerance and Anti-Bias Curriculum.
Furthering values of equity and inclusion means not shying away from hard conversations. If hurtful talk stemming from difference in identity, appearance, background, or ability, enters onto the playground or in the classroom, we address it head on. Using Restorative Practices, we work with students, teachers, and families to repair harm in authentic ways. This work takes time and doesn’t always resolve quickly, but we are committed to partnering with each other to create a safe space for all students.
When everyone in our community is able to bring their whole selves to school and feels empowered and celebrated, we all thrive.
Students at Park Day School come from many diverse backgrounds: just over 50% of our students are students of color and include 29% who identify as Multiracial; 8% as Black or African American; 7% as Hispanic/Latino/a/x; 7% as Asian/Desi American, and 49% as White. 5% of students are from LGBTQ-headed households. 3% of students identify as transgender or nonbinary. 40% of faculty and staff identify as people of color.
As a school rooted in equity practices and social justice, understanding how race affects people of color on a daily basis, and how contemporary society responds to race, is as important as understanding historical highs and lows. We believe all future leaders and active citizens need this basic social literacy.
At Park Day we acknowledge that race affects people of color on a daily basis, and accept that society privileges certain groups in different ways. We believe that if white people can also be aware of these differences more often, we can all take one step closer to being a just society where everyone receives equal treatment. Students are given scaffolding and ways to meaningfully engage academically and socially with their peers, teachers, and families in discussing race, confronting racism, and ensuring that friendship and trust grows naturally within our community. The home/school partnership is crucial to the success of these efforts.
Park Day School faculty and staff participate in regular diversity training, most recently with Blink Consulting, and StirFry Seminars & Consulting. Every year we send faculty members to the national People of Color In Independent Schools (POCIS) conference.
How we understand gender in our society is constantly evolving, and yet children who express gender outside of binary social norms often have a difficult experience if there is not a community wide effort to educate about the gender spectrum. Park Day School is a leader in independent schools in its support of gender expansive (transgender and gender nonconforming) students, families and staff.
A gender inclusive classroom has benefits for all students. Studies have found that when teachers refer to and segregate students by gender, students are more likely to only make same sex friends, and to stick to activities that are typically associated with their gender. Park Day teachers participate in regular gender identity training with Gender Spectrum.
Diverse family structures are celebrated at Park Day School. Our school has a strong tradition of being openly supportive of families with two dads, two moms, multiple-parent families, transgender parents, and all the other permutations that constitute loving relationships. Our LGBTQ families often take lead organizing Pride events and are joined by our enthusiastic wider community in celebrating diverse family structures.
In addition to celebrating LBGTQ families, we also provide a welcoming environment for children who are aligning as LGBTQ in elementary or middle school. For young people, understanding their sexual orientation is a process that can be confusing and sometimes scary. The middle school advisory program, a daily meeting time for 12-13 students and one teacher, helps establish strong teacher-student relationships. Advisors are sometimes the first adult a student may go to when seeking support. The Middle School Pride Club meets weekly at lunchtime, and is a safe space for students to connect with peers and a faculty facilitator.
When people don’t conform to certain societal norms, they can be misunderstood or undervalued. Similarly, some learning styles are given more respect than others. At Park Day, we understand that neurodiversity can enrich community, reveal unexpected solutions to challenging problems, and add unique perspective.
Park Day School thinks carefully about what accommodations we can successfully extend to support children in the way that helps them learn best within a typical classroom setting. Learning specialists at Park Day School make recommendations regarding how to best support individual learners with additional tools and offer support to students and families working with outside educational therapists.
As a general education environment, the range of learning styles we are able to accommodate is admittedly limited, but we strive to recognize all our students’ unique abilities, foster confidence in their learning styles, and promote a greater appreciation for neurodiverse learning styles overall.
Affinity and alliance groups come together to educate the community, share traditions and form new bonds. Cultural and identity-focused events such as Diwali, Lunar New Year, Black History Month, and Pride are highlights of our Friday assemblies. We work with students to encourage and develop pride in personal identities, and are starting work to build student affinity groups as a community.