On September 13, two facilitators from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) visited students in Middle and Upper School to present their Step Up! challenge. Step Up! was designed to give voice to the targets of bullying and prejudice, build empathy in the aggressors, and inspire bystanders to become allies. ADL’s Dana White and Will Kratt shared their collective 20 years of experience in facilitating courageous conversations while providing a platform for faculty and students to engage in interactive activities, ask questions to gain further understanding, affirm and empower their peers, and share their own personal experiences through storytelling.

To continue the dialogue and learning, both Middle and Upper School students gathered during their meetup times in Chapel to unpack the various terms and values presented by the ADL. Discussions centered on the power of service in commemoration of the sacrifice and courage of 9/11 first responders as well as a theme of connection and inclusion.

The ADL was founded in 1913 to stop the defamation of Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all. Now the civil rights and human relations agency strives to fight not only anti-Semitism but all forms of bigotry. The ADL builds bridges of communication, understanding, and respect among diverse groups, carrying out its mission through a network of twenty-seven Regional Offices in the United States and abroad with a variety of materials, resources, programs, and services.

This ongoing conversation isn’t just for students and faculty. Our parent community is to be included as well. On September 26 and 27 we welcome Rosetta Lee, Cultural Competency Consultant to conduct two separate Parent Universities.

Parent University with Rosetta Lee: Parenting with Teen Identity in Mind
Wednesday, September 26, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Grades 7-12 families, GC Art Gallery
Adolescence is a turbulent time of change, as teens continue to search for their identity. Parents of students in grades 7-12 are invited to learn how brain science, gender research, and educational psychology inform us about raising connected and resilient kids, who are primed to learn and be successful in school. This session is intended to help parents empathize with their teens, provide practical tips to help kids maintain healthy brain through development, offer advice on how to approach teens in productive ways, and how to maintain connections, as teens naturally pull away from adults.

Parent University with Rosetta Lee: Parenting with Self-Identity in Mind
Thursday, September 27, 8:45 – 9:30 a.m.
Preschool – Grade 6 families, GC Gym
How do we learn about our various group identities, such as female, African-American, Buddhist, middle class, etc.? From whom do we learn the meaning of these terms? What messages have we internalized about ourselves and others? What are the differences that result in one person having a healthy self-identity and another person experiencing own-group shame and hatred? Learn how we can instill positive self-identity in our children and coach them to be positive influences on the identities of others. Together, we can co-create inclusive communities, working toward success for all.   

Through events like these, we hope to empower students and their families to have courageous conversations. Relationships at Mount Vernon are foundational to learning, and we welcome the chance to wrestle with voices and perspectives that challenge our assumptions.

 

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