When the Upper School's newly formed human rights cohort was asked if they would like the opportunity to create community programming for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the answer was a resounding "yes." Together, students worked to create an interactive board game style activity designed to uncover unsung Civil Rights heroes and stories.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Diversity is about representation -- ensuring that people across a wide spectrum of worldviews, ability, race, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, religious beliefs, and political affiliation -- are part of a community. Research has shown that a diversity of viewpoints and life experiences leads to innovation and creativity. Connecting the dots from a passive place of having diversity to leveraging diversity for innovation and creativity is: equity. This means ensuring fairness in access to information and resources for all, which entails acknowledging that different students have different needs to achieve success and putting those tools in place. Inclusion requires intentional practice on everyone’s part. Inclusion entails leveraging diversity in order to make it so that all students, staffulty, and families experience King as a safe, welcoming community to which they belong. It means that it is this type of culture that will ensure that King continues to be at the cutting-edge of delivering innovative education for the long-term.
King School Diversity Policy Statement
Diversity is a core value at King. At King, we are enriched through our appreciation of diversity’s many faces including gender, race, ethnicity, religion, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, age, physical ability, talent, or learning style. By honoring cultural differences and intellectual diversity, we create a vibrant learning community where each person is valued.
King values a community in which each individual strives for wisdom and goodness found in a deep understanding of equity, fairness, and cultural inclusion. Rooted in respect and personal responsibility, the School’s culture offers a supportive and reflective environment that embraces diversity as central to educational excellence. We honor these values as essential to preparing our students for lives of leadership and achievement in our global society.
At King, we support our commitment with action. We work to build a community that is truly diverse. Proactively and consistently, we challenge stereotypes, create awareness, and develop educational programs that are informed by, and responsive to, our values. We model these values in the School’s activities and affairs. We arm our students with an understanding and appreciation for diversity that prepares them to be thoughtful and successful citizens of the world.
PreK-Grade 12 Curriculum
Rooted in respect and personal responsibility, the King culture offers a supportive and reflective environment that embraces diversity as a central component to educational excellence. The program promotes understanding, dialogue, empowerment, and opportunities among the King community.
The Diversity Program is integrated across the PreK-Grade 12 curriculum. Age-appropriate texts are carefully selected from different global, cultural, religious, gender, and socioeconomic perspectives to engender awareness and class conversations.
To build upon the curriculum, there are additional initiatives:
- Across multiple-divisions, we celebrate with our Global Fair
- In Lower School, we build upon the theme of identity. Through developmentally appropriate classroom activities, students share “Who Am I?” and “What makes me unique?”
- In Middle School, conversations are held to engage in reflections on gender norms and stereotypes, personal identity, microaggressions and micro-affirmations. King students in Grades 7 and 8 join students from other independent schools at a yearly diversity conference sponsored through the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools.
- In Upper School, students are offered the opportunity to engage in discussions about issues of social identity and multiculturalism. Through these experiences, students build community, learn core concepts, and engage in honest dialogue. A group of US students and faculty attend the yearly National Association of Independent Schools’ Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC), a part of the yearly People of Color in Independent Schools Conference (PoCC). Faculty also attends the annual White Privilege Conference.
- National Association of Independent Schools’ Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC), a part of the yearly People of Color in Independent Schools Conference (PoCC)
- National Association of Independent Schools’ Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) - Connecticut Regional Event
- Young Women of Color Conference
- Young Men of Color Conference
- Saturday Summit on Social Justice
PA KInD Committee
The mission of the Parents' Association's King Inclusion and Diversity Committee (KInD) is to help create a safe, welcoming space for King parents and our entire school community, through inclusion, while, at the same time, accepting and embracing our diversity. The goal of this committee is to serve as a liaison with the PA as a resource for parents, particularly those new to King. The KInD committee works to engage the School on matters of difference, works together to tackle barriers, and embraces opportunities to enhance diversity. The committee brings events to the King community, including: movie screenings, book readings and celebrations of the full spectrum of issues of difference, race and class, learning differences, non-traditional families, and gender equality. The KInD committee looks to become agents of change in many ways on issues of social justice and equality. King is a place for all parents. The Committee also works closely with the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to help foster a culture in which King is a welcoming, safe space for our entire school community through various events throughout the year.
Diversity in Action
In preparation for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Middle School combined academic and advisory programming that explored issues of social justice and civil rights. Encouraging different perspectives, students debated Dr. King’s impact on society during his lifetime and beyond.
Lower School students at King School learned about the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the long-lasting implications of his lifelong work toward justice and equality. Students tackled questions such as, “What does it mean to be a change-maker?” and “What kind of change-maker do you strive to be?”
A group of Upper School students met with representatives from the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Organization in mid-December to be trained in human rights advocacy, forming the first Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights cohort at King. They are already using their training to create meaningful community programming.
Dr. Sandy Lizaire-Duff joined King School this year as Head of Lower School. In this conversation, she shares her perspective on how students benefit from the Pollyanna Racial Literacy Curriculum and from social emotional learning, plus more. Read part one of the Q&A with Dr. Lizaire-Duff in which she describes her perspective on her focus during her first year and on how students benefit from experiential learning.
A group of King Upper School students and staffulty attended the 2020 National Association of Independent Schools People of Color Conference (PoCC), and its student counterpart, the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC), and found it to be a meaningful and productive experience, despite the virtual format. "I personally enjoyed SDLC just as much as I did in person," says Sarah Cepeda '22, who attended the in-person conference in Seattle last year. "I wasn't expecting to have such a powerful experience." For King students, SDLC's affinity groups were the highlight of the conference. "The Latinx affinity group was amazing," says Sofia Izurieta '23. "Sometimes I've wondered if I really do belong here. Seeing and talking to other people who look like me and have the same background as me made me realize that I'm not alone. I do belong here. I do deserve to be here."
What does it mean to be a leader of a school community at this critical moment in history? What does it mean to be a leader and a person of color in a predominantly white institution? These questions and more were explored in Lora McManus's "You Are Not Alone: Experiences of Discrimination and Microaggressions Toward Women of Color (WOC) Heads of Independent Schools," one of the presentations at the 2020 People of Color Conference (PoCC). King School's own Dr. Karen Eshoo, Head of School, participated in the study that the presentation explores and was one of three presenters at the PoCC webinar.
Affinity groups provide opportunities for students to connect with other community members who share a common identity. Sarah Cepeda ‘22, Hannah Greene ‘21, and Staffulty members Dr. Craig Tunks, PhD, and Adam Boaz reflect on the importance of the Students of Color, Jewish Students, and LGBTQIA+ affinity groups in the Upper School.
The Upper School has been engaging in a series of programs throughout remote Wednesdays focused on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and defining what inclusive academic excellence means at King.
Listen to PA King Inclusion and Diversity speaker Dena Simmons on Tuesday October 6, 7:00-8:30 p.m. p.m. to hear her presentation on "From Surviving to Thriving: Creating Equitable Environments Through Emotional Intelligence and Culturally Relevant Practices."
Congratulations to Milei Wyatt '21 (pictured in the middle) who was selected as a Scholar for the College Board National African American Recognition Program.
Congratulations to Alesia Paz '21 (pictured) who was selected as a Scholar for the College Board National Hispanic Recognition Program and to Cassandra Jean-Baptiste '21 on her selection as a Scholar for the College Board National African American Recognition Program.
A group of six Upper School students and six staffulty, including Head of School Karen Eshoo, from multiple divisions and disciplines traveled together for and experienced an insightful and transformative experience at the NAIS People of Color Conference and the Student Diversity Leadership Conference in December. As student Hanhah Greene '21 enthused, "What was so compelling about this conference was meeting people from all around the country living totally different lives, but were able to connect and find such close similarities between one another."
King students and staffulty attend Saturday Summit on Social Justice to gain knowledge, make connections, and explore diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The King community celebrated our first Indigenous Peoples' Day (IPD) in October. The SilverCloud Singers visited campus and spoke about Indigenous Peoples' Day and its significance for Indigenous groups in the United States today. By honoring cultural differences and intellectual diversity, we create a vibrant learning community where each person is valued.
Dr. Jean-Baptiste introduced a new series of parent education events: Hot Coffee, Hot Topics. These are parent/caregiver workshops and discussions to grow our collective social, intellectual, emotional capacity for navigating current cultural and social transformations that impact how children learn. In these events, parents and caregivers will engage with each other, learn, and talk about tools, strategies, and challenges for developing cultural competence and how to provide a full circle of support for students from school to home.
Our first Spanish assembly was truly successful as it met all the goals we hoped to achieve. It allowed the students to practice their Spanish and learn about a very important topic; that of environmental conservation and the ways we can take part in helping reduce our carbon footprint.
Christos Galanopoulos, Chair of History Department, explores the "emotional outpouring of love of our community" at the last Upper School assembly this year. Experience Mr. Galanopoulos's reflection and a video of the assembly featuring the passionate speech by Luke Buttenwieser, President of the Upper School student body, and the touching tribute by Mr. Lear-Nickum to retiring teachers Cathy Mishkin and Connie Nichols.
"Big props to King School for bringing Christopher Dial to Stamford to talk about implicit bias. Many thanks to the KInD parents for the work they do to support the Committee. And may we all be patient with ourselves and those around us as we strive to understand how our brains work for us and against us, as individuals and as groups."
The King Community took a trip around the world last week and never left the LS gymnasium. It was an afternoon filled with memories of faraway places where the roots of our community began; delicious food once shared by families much like our own; and the differences that bring us together.