Last week, several Mercersburg students participated in the National Association of Indn Antonio, Texas. Guiding the group were Renata Williams, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and Jamar Galbreath, Assistant Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Each year, two diversity-focused conferences run concurrently through the NAIS: The NAIS People of Color Conference (PoCC) and the NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference SDLC.
Attended by Williams and Galbreath, PoCC attracts private school leaders and teachers to workshops focused toward creating safe space for leadership, professional development and networking for people of all backgrounds.
Williams and Galbreath agreed that both PoCC and SDLC gave participants the opportunity to strengthen Mercersburg’s vision by sharing perspectives with other schools. “These conferences are a place for learning, development, and growth for any and all who attend. With a myriad of sessions ranging such as: developing DEI assessment strategies, building seminars focusing on critical topics, affinity spaces, and many more; these conferences provided a great opportunity to build connections with and learn from other students, staff, faculty, and administrators of color from other independent schools across the nation first hand,” said Galbreath.
Mercersburg students taking part in SDLC worked with over 7000 students from independent schools from across the US and from 10 different countries. At the conference, students had the chance to develop their “cross-cultural communication skills, design effective strategies for social justice practice through dialogue and the arts, and learn the foundations of allyship and networking principles,” said Galbreath.
The conferences generated positive feedback from Mercersburg attendees. For Williams, the highlight was the affinity spaces offered, as well as the chance for students to share their experience. “Offering opportunities for folks with shared identities and interests to come together unapologetically. Equally as gratifying was seeing our students share about their conference experience.” For Galbreath, the standout moment was the opportunity to hear one of his heroes, poet Nikki Giovanni, a PoCC keynote Speaker, as well as seeing school leaders who identified as people of color being recognized. “It was incredible seeing the over 65 heads of schools who identify as people of color take the stage,” Galbreath said.