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.
Students at Park Day School come from many diverse backgrounds: just over half of our students are students of color and include 35% of the student body who identify as multiracial. These are the words students’ families use to describe their racial identities.
4% of students are from LGBTQ-headed households. 3% of students identify as transgender or nonbinary.
Student Affinity Groups meet regularly in Middle School and include a Black/African American group, an Asian American Pacific Islander group, a Latin/a/e/o/x group, a Multi-racial group, a Jewish group, and two white groups. Park Day School also supports critical inquiry groups including Queer and Trans History and Mental Health, Identity and Equity.
Listen to our student-powered podcast episodes on affinity groups and critical inquiry groups!
Parent affinity and alliance groups are parent led and provide an opportunity for families to come together for social gatherings, to celebrate identity, share traditions and more.
Volunteer-Led Affinity Groups:
As a school rooted in equity practices and social justice, understanding how race affects people 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 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 Mollie Crittenden, National Seed Project, and Liza Talusan. 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, single 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 Gender & Sexuality Alliance (GSA) meets weekly at lunchtime, and is a safe space for students to connect with peers and a faculty facilitator.
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. 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. At Park Day, we understand that neurodiversity can enrich community, reveal unexpected solutions to challenging problems, and add unique perspective.
Anti-Racist Family Resources
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.