Community & Diversity — Who We Are
Diversity at Bank Street
At Bank Street, we strive to acknowledge, support and educate our community of children and adults to be sensitive to, and respectful of, the diversity here in our own community and beyond. It’s an important part of our mission and philosophy to help children to develop their abilities to be understanding, accepting, and to become advocates for diversity and social justice. The pedagogy in our classrooms has a prominent foundation of social justice, equity, and advocacy that is reflected in all subject areas.
We view the concept of diversity broadly, and so our curriculum and programming focuses on topics such as race, ethnicity, socioeconomics, social class, religion, gender, sexual orientation, family structure, ability and learning styles.
The School for Children makes a concerted effort to admit families and hire faculty from diverse 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. Our school is also a place where children, faculty and families actively engage with the changing ideas and values of a democracy, with what schooling means for each individual and group, and how this affects teaching and learning.
The Director of Diversity and Community
The Director of Diversity and Community engages with students, faculty and families to help educate and promote understanding of issues of diversity, including but not limited to, the descriptors mentioned above (ethnicity, socioeconomics, etc.). The Dean, the division Coordinators,and the Director of Admissions work to implement and maintain a climate of inclusion that supports all members of the community. The Director of Diversity and Community collaborates in the school’s efforts to hire and support a diverse faculty, and assists teachers in developing and maintaining an inclusive curriculum. The Director of Diversity and Community also provides leadership and support for the Affinity Groups within the school: Kids of Color; Educators of Color; Parents of Children of Color; Touched By Adoption Parent Group; and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Allies Parent Group.
Affinity Groups bring together people whose identity-based perspectives are sometimes misunderstood or under-represented. Affinity groups provide spaces to share common experiences and identify ways in which members can be better represented in the culture of the school. We have affinity groups for children and adults, which meet regularly and, in many cases, provide programming for the community. The school supports the initiatives of the Affinity Groups because of their contribution to the well-being of their members and the larger community. These groups provide the school with a better understanding of diversity and inclusion, and their impact on the children’s experiences here. The following are the current Affinity Groups in the School:
Kids of Color Groups (KOC)
Bank Street offers Kids of Color (KOC) affinity groups in the Middle and Upper School, which are facilitated by a faculty member of color. The groups have similar goals: to provide a space where students of color are in a majority setting; to support students of color in the positive development of their racial and ethnic identity; to create an environment where children of color can feel free and comfortable to share their experiences and concerns; and to encourage students of color to develop age appropriate ownership and leadership in the dialogue about racial diversity.
In the Middle School there is a racial identity curriculum in which all students participate. This curriculum has a focus on advocacy and identity, and all students take part in developmentally appropriate lessons and activities based on themes related to racial identity. These lessons are critical in developing a better understanding of diversity issues and creating advocates for social issues, equity and Community and Diversity – Who We Are justice. For children who identify as kids of color, there is also an affinity group component to this curriculum and families determine participation.
In the Upper School, a student who identifies as a person of color can elect to attend monthly KOC meetings. The 10/11s and 11/12s comprise KOC Junior, and the 12/13s and 13/14s comprise KOC Senior.
Educators of Color (EOC):
The Educators of Color Group provides a space for Bank Street faculty who identify as people of color to be in a majority setting, share experiences and come together as a collective to influence initiatives in the school as a whole. This group also holds open-door meetings, which are inclusive of the full faculty, to encourage further dialogue, understanding and collaboration.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, & Allies Parenting Group (LGBTA)
The LGBTA group represents the spectrum of sexual orientation and gender identity in the Bank Street community. The group comes together socially to identify common needs and goals in the school. Objectives include supporting one another and children, identifying mutual concerns and interests and determining how best to pursue them, and increasing visibility of the LGBT community.
Parents of Children of Color (POCOC)
Parents of Children of Color is a coalition of parents whose goals are to identify common experiences and concerns and share solutions that enable them and their children to navigate more effectively experiences around racial identity, both in and out of school. POCOC meets monthly and sponsors regular programming for the entire Bank Street community.
Touched by Adoption Parent Group (TBA)
The Touched by Adoption parent group is a coalition of Bank Street families formed through adoption, and provides social support for all community members who are touched by adoption. The group advocates for members of our community on issues related to adoption, and it provides programming on those issues, as it helps increase teachers’ understanding of adoption and how the various curricula can reflect and support adopted children. TBA works in conjunction with other SFC family affinity groups on school-wide events to facilitate understanding of adoption-related issues in the broader school community.