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Far Brook News

Widening the Lens: The Far Brook School Diversity Conference
Posted 11/21/2016 02:24PM
On the crisp fall morning of November 12, 2016, twelve area independent schools congregated on Far Brook’s campus with the commitment to broadening and improving inclusion within their school communities. The inaugural event, Widening the Lens: The Far Brook School Diversity Conference, brought together a ‘pod’ from each participant school of teachers, students, parents, administrators, diversity coordinators, alumni, and trustees for a day dedicated to advancing the discussion of diversity through the candid exchange of thoughts, ideas, and practical solutions.

The day began with coffee and refreshments followed by the keynote address delivered by scholar, author, and psychologist Dr. Howard C. Stevenson, who has spent much of his 30-year career promoting racial literacy in schools and neighborhoods across the country. Dr. Stevenson’s speech was filled with reflections both hopeful and inspiring, a timely and much appreciated salve for an audience still weary and emotional from the divisiveness of our nation’s Presidential election.

After the keynote address, members of constituent groups from each school gathered in different locations across Far Brook’s campus to share their perspective on issues surrounding diversity at their school. Each school’s ‘pod’ reconvened after lunch; inspired by the morning’s work, the schools spent the afternoon session assessing the challenges that lie ahead and how best to move forward and create action plans for their school.

“Powerful learning and growth happen when we take this two-pronged approach, not only sharing our challenges, experiences, and best practices with colleagues from peer schools, but also bringing together a cross-section of voices and perspectives that exist within our own schools.”

-from the Far Brook School Diversity Conference webpage

Attendee response was swift and enthusiastic:

“Outstanding, thank you for creating a space for us to begin this work as a NJ community of independent schools.”

“So powerful to have the time to explore and talk and discuss and cry and heal and plan!”

“The passion and honesty and energy of my group was so inspiring; I am excited to go back to my school and put ideas into action.”

“Incredibly powerful day. The topics covered and open and caring discussion will propel us to move our schools in a new and brave direction.”

“Thank you for a powerful, rich day. The conference preparation and intentional format provided both provocative dialogue and action items. I learned the most from the students. Excellent and important work.”

Thanks to the tireless efforts of Amy Ziebarth, Mikki Murphy, Haruka Mori, and the entire team of Far Brook volunteers and facilitators, our campus provided a safe and trusting space where participants felt at ease being guided through challenging and courageous conversations. The level of dialogue made possible by Widening the Lens is critical now more than ever if we are to remain a resilient and inclusive community. All in all, the conference was a heartening reminder that our children are reaping the benefits of the multitude of diverse voices and perspectives that exist right here within our own schools.

Please enjoy the slideshow of this remarkable day.


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