DEI Matters at MAC: February 2024 Update
Our ongoing education in matters of diversity, equity and inclusion as a community continued during this first month of 2024. In this update, we share some of the different learning and engagement taking place by community members and highlight the amazing work that our teachers are doing to promote the principles of anti-bias education in their classrooms.
All efforts by the different members of our community matter in our journey to create a more inclusive environment at MAC. As noted in previous posts, our staff engages in professional learning during each in-service training, using the four core goals of anti-bias education as a guiding framework. Recently, our incredible Board of Trustees began a parallel learning journey to ensure that there is strong alignment in anti-bias education understanding as it helps MAC achieve its long-term goals. We are incredibly fortunate for the Board’s dedication to help MAC fulfill its mission and engage in this important work. The work by MAC’s leaders to continually engage in, grow and refine its understanding is critical to making sure that DEI matters are considered and integrated into its core culture as a school. To this end, Nancy Canning will be working with the Downtown Denver Partnership’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Action committee to provide leadership and input on strategies to build an accessible and inclusive downtown through economic development, community planning, civic leadership and engagement projects. The community inroads from this engagement will surely be beneficial to MAC as we continue on our journey as a school and we look forward to the opportunities that will unfold!
This month, we are highlighting some of the efforts in our Toddler and Primary communities to promote an anti-bias understanding at MAC. As February is National Black History Month, we checked in with teachers to explore how Black voices and perspectives are integrated into classroom works and materials. In our TC5 classroom in the Toddler community, Lead Teacher Lesley Lefkowitz explained that the integration of diverse voices is an ongoing priority year-round in her classroom, not only during months of particular national recognition. She strives to have diverse books available to students with themes of kindness, respect for others and embracing differences to promote an anti-bias understanding. See how the toddlers in her classroom are exploring books that help them to see the world from different perspectives! Embracing a similar approach, Primary Sole Lead Teacher, Gabi Candotti, spreads learning of diverse voices and perspectives throughout the year for students. She seeks opportunities to integrate natural conversations when opportunities arise about topics around different skin colors or hair types, rooting discussions in facts and science. She embraces opportunities to talk about notable figures who have had an impact on our world in ways that feel relatable and accessible to her students. For instance, talking about Ruby Bridges in a conversation about human rights allows students to consider how a child that is close in age to them can have a profound impact on the world. A rich library of books about different world cultures also allows students to explore topics that expand this understanding and consider the similarities and differences of children around the world. Her students love to hear about the boy in Vietnam who lives (and works) in a house-boat, or the girl in Somalia who has no pipes to bring water to her house. Gabi embraces opportunities to explore world cultures by inviting community members to share their traditions with students. Friends and families have been invited to the classroom to share stories of their celebrations, like Kwanzaa or Lunar New Year, which are always enthusiastically appreciated by students! By including these rich opportunities to bring diverse cultures, histories and voices into the classroom, Gabi ensures that her students have access to learning that promotes comfort and joy across many dimensions of human diversity. We applaud the efforts of Gabi, Lesley and all of our wonderful teachers for everything they do, everyday, to promote peace and understanding in our world!
Our next professional learning day is on February 16, 2024 during which we will explore the next two goals of anti-bias education, diversity and justice, with the guidance of Dr. Vanessa Santiago Schwarz. We will provide our next update in March!