Inclusion, Diversity, Empathy, Action
At The Country School, we believe that embracing diversity is not just about what we think, what we see, or how we live, but about our willingness to engage in conversation and action that will bring us all to a greater understanding and a more equitable, effective result. The Country School recognizes that people with different backgrounds, skills, attitudes, and experiences bring fresh ideas, perceptions, and talents. We harness these differences as we educate our students, preparing them to take a proactive role as leaders and collaborators in an interconnected, complex world.
Just as our school community is guided by a Mission Statement, so it is guided by a Statement on Diversity:
A diverse student enrollment and a curriculum that stirs appreciation for various cultures, including one’s own, are increasingly important for the fulfillment of Country School’s mission. It is our intention to foster in our students both respect for individual and cultural differences and understanding of our common humanity, and so to prepare them to assume their responsibility as Americans and citizens of the world.
IDEA at The Country School
Although embracing diversity and fostering inclusion are long-held traditions at The Country School, in 2013, 5th Grade teacher Gabby Mbeki set out to create a special day devoted to these topics, working with her colleagues to establish a range of hands-on workshops aimed at fostering empathy and inclusion and exploring identity and diversity. Calling it IDEA Day (with IDEA standing for Interpreting Diversity Education through Action), the day was scheduled to coincide with Martin Luther King’s birthday (more about the first IDEA Day).
IDEA Day has been held every year since, although the IDEA acronym has evolved over time. These days, the letters now stand for Inclusion, Diversity, Empathy, and Action. The notion of “IDEA” has also evolved from its initial one-day concept into an ongoing, year-round endeavor. Faculty members engage in IDEA professional development throughout the year and IDEA discussions once a month during faculty meetings. IDEA speakers and artists are invited to campus, an IDEA student alliance meets every other week, and parents and teachers are invited to periodic IDEA conversations to discuss issues of interest or concern. Our annual IDEA Day continues to be a much-anticipated focal point for the school year, allowing all students and teachers to engage in a full day of in-depth explorations of topics related to diversity and inclusion through workshops, speakers, and reflection.