Faculty, Administrators Attend Flagship People of Color Conference

Five of Norfolk Collegiate’s educators and administrators attended the National Association of Independent Schools’ People of Color Conference in San Antonio. This year’s theme, “Elevating our worth, our agency and our excellence,” had attendees focusing on “our” and looking at how they can incorporate their experiences into their schools.

“I feel very much inspired,” Dr. Nefertiti Makeda, Collegiate’s director of diversity and inclusion, said to her colleagues following the conference. “We could see that we are on the right track. That gave me confidence and made me feel really good and I appreciate all of you. We have been collaborating, and we’ve done so much this year.”

Meagan Starks, modern and classical languages chair, said the conference made her look at her and her daughter and their Black girlhood experiences in predominantly white school systems. “It showed me some of the challenges she’s facing, and I faced, and how we can support black girls and how we can support one another.” She’s also looking at incorporating more diversity, equity and inclusion into the school’s advisory curriculum.

“This was a really fulfilling conference,” said Kindergarten Teacher Lourdes Roman. “There were so many sessions…one I really enjoyed was learning about how schools incorporate diversity, equity, inclusion and self-learning into their curriculum.”

Michael Johnson, middle school science teacher, also attended and had a wonderful experience. One of the workshops he attended addressed code-switching which “focused on how we should be speaking in an academic setting and how people switch how they speak based upon their setting.” As a result, he better understands the importance of and is looking for ways to create more safe spaces for students and faculty to be their authentic selves.

For Dr. Kristine Varney, director of instruction, it was an immense privilege to be able to attend the conference, which she had heard about for years as a flagship event for independent school leaders. She cited “getting to connect with my colleagues from Norfolk Collegiate and hearing more about their experiences” as a highlight. She spoke to her colleagues about her renewed commitment to energizing the school’s professional development programming based on what she learned.

The conference is an annual opportunity for educators and administrators “to gather in a safe space for leadership, professional development and networking for people of color and allies of all backgrounds in independent schools,” according to the conference’s website. It’s full of “seminars, a master class and more than 100 workshops on diverse topics relevant to people of color in independent schools.”

To learn more about the conference, contact Dr. Makeda at nmakeda@norfolkcollegiate.org.

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