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.
Q: What is the objective of the Pollyanna Racial Literacy Curriculum and how do you feel it will support Lower School students?
We have partnered with the consultants of Pollyanna to increase our knowledge about race in order to redesign our PreKindergarten-Grade 5 curriculum. Our goal is to build our faculty's capacity to help students acquire an awareness of their own racial socialization as well as an understanding and appreciation for other cultures. Through the use of children's literature, fiction and nonfiction, our teachers engage in dialogue about race and racism in a developmentally appropriate manner. We continue to work with Monique Vogelsang, a racial literacy trainer at Pollyanna who provides on-going support to our faculty as they implement the curriculum in a way that's interwoven into our existing instructional program. Our hope is that our students will develop a more inclusive and positive perspective of themselves and of people in our local and global communities.
Q: How is the LS partnering with students and parents to support wellness?
Social-emotional learning is a cornerstone of the student experience. Beginning in our PreKindergarten classroom, students learn to build relationships with their peers and teachers. They learn to identify and regulate their emotions with the guidance and support of their teachers and our school psychologist.
Our students are able to learn from each other. We strive to empower children to be their own thinkers, to be an upstander, not a bystander; and to embody our King School virtues of kindness, integrity, perseverance, and respect. We focus on developing students who care about others and their community. We use Responsive Classroom as a method to create a strong learning community. The students begin their day in an engaging way with a morning meeting to greet each other, share, and interact with a short morning message from their teacher or participate in a mindful activity. They also continue this practice of community building by gathering at the end of the day for a closing meeting where they reflect on the day and get ready to depart. The faculty communicate frequently with parents and we work as a team to support our students' social-emotional well-being.
Q: What's been the biggest delight of your initial months at King?
The biggest delight of my initial months at King has been greeting each student during arrival and seeing them off at the end of the school day. It has also been a welcoming opportunity for me to engage in brief conversations with parents, especially since we are not able at this time to meet and gather in person. I look forward to arrival and dismissal every day.
Q: Tell us one thing about yourself that King families may not know.
I have an eclectic taste in music that ranges from artists like Boukman Eksperyans, John Coltrane, Mary J. Blige, Bon Jovi, to Shania Twain. And then there's Curtis Mayfield's The Makings of You, my favorite song. Music is like poetry to me. It calms and soothes me. And at times, energizes me.