Community & Diversity — Who We Are
Diversity at Bank Street
At Bank Street, we strive to acknowledge, support, and educate a community of children and adults to be sensitive to, as well as respectful of, the diversity among ourselves. While we promote understanding and acceptance of all humanity, our curriculum focuses on topics such as race, ethnicity, class, religion, gender, sexual orientation, family structure, physical ability, and learning styles. An important part of our mission and philosophy is developing all children’s ability for understanding, acceptance, and advocacy for topics of diversity and for issues of social justice. Our philosophical beliefs and scholarly practice in our children's classrooms have a prominent advocacy foundation, as well as a social-justice and equity-driven curriculum that is reflected in all subject areas.
The School for Children makes a genuine effort to recruit and retain children, families, and faculty from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds in order to reflect the diversity of our multicultural society. This effort is consistent with the progressive idea that schools should represent the demographics of the society in which they exist. At the same time, our School needs to be a place in which children, faculty, and families are actively engaged with the conflicting and changing ideas and values of a democracy, and with what schooling means for each individual and group, and how this affects teaching and learning in the School for Children.
The Diversity Coordinator
The Diversity Coordinator works with teachers and families to educate them about, and help them develop a better understanding of, issues of diversity - including race and ethnicity, class, religion, gender, family structure, and sexual orientation. The Diversity Coordinator supports the Head of School's initiatives, as well as those of the Division Coordinators, to implement and maintain a climate of inclusion that supports all members of the community as well as pays attention to the specific needs of the different Affinity Groups within the School. Moreover, the Diversity Coordinator collaborates in the School’s efforts to recruit, maintain, and support new teachers of color, and assists teachers in developing and maintaining an inclusive curriculum. Finally, the Diversity Coordinator provides leadership and support for the Affinity Groups within the school, and makes plans and coordinates with other groups such as Kids of Color, Teachers of Color, Open Door Teachers of Color, and Faculty Diversity Committees.
Affinity Groups bring together people whose particular perspective is not commonly understood and appreciated (e.g., gender, family structure, race and ethnicity, physical ability, learning styles, etc.). The groups provide these people with a venue to identify ways they can be better represented in the culture of the school; they also help them develop a deeper sense of belonging. At Bank Street, we listen to and encourage children as well as adults. We support the initiatives of the Affinity Groups because of their contribution to the well-being of its members and their children. These groups help provide the School with a better understanding of issues of diversity and inclusion, and their impact on the children’s curricula. Affinity Groups meet regularly. Some meetings are for members only; others are open to the community at large. The following are the present Affinity Groups in the School:
Touched by Adoption Group
A coalition of parents and staff whose goals are to identify common concerns and share solutions that enable children and their families to deal more effectively with issues concerning adoption; to help build a positive image for children who have come into families through adoption; and to increase teachers’ understanding of adoption issues and how the curriculum can reflect and support our children, as well as educate all children. This group meets monthly and is a collaboration between the School (over) for Children and the Family Center.
Parents of Children of Color (POCOC)
A coalition of parents whose goals are to identify common concerns and share solutions that enable them and their children to deal more effectively with the diversity issues they face; to help children of color build a positive self image so they feel comfortable being themselves while also being part of the larger Bank Street community; and to support each other as they strive to increase their participation and visibility in the Bank Street community.
Kids of Color Groups (KOC)
Two separate groups, one for Middle School students and one for Upper School Students, that meet monthly (Middle School) or bi-monthly (Upper School) under the direction of several teachers. The two groups have similar goals: to support students of color in the positive development of their racial and ethnic identity; to provide a safe space where children can feel free and comfortable to talk about their experiences and concerns as kids of color; and to encourage students of color to develop age appropriate ownership and leadership in the dialogue about diversity. In order to support an advocacy foundation, the school has developed an Advocacy Foundation Curriculum through the collaboration of faculty and the Diversity Coordinator. As part of this ongoing curriculum, students in the Kids of Color Affinity Groups are given opportunities to meld conversations within their smaller groups with those of the whole class. These meetings are critical in developing a better understanding of diversity issues and creating advocates for social issues, equity, and justice.
Gay and Lesbian Parenting Group
A group of gay and lesbian families who come together to identify common needs and goals. Objectives include supporting one another and all of their children; identifying mutual concerns and interests and determining how best to pursue them; and considering ways to increase their visibility and voice within the greater Bank Street community.
Learning Styles Study and Support Group
A parent-run group whose goals are to support each other and their children; to learn more about differing learning styles/difficulties; to share their experiences and resources; and to explore the ways they can help their children to thrive.