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Connecting and Collaborating

Parent Groups Build Relationships and Promote Ravenscroft’s Excellence

By Janice Lewine | Back to Table of Contents

 


Parents Supporting Diversity and Inclusion: Celebrating Our Differences

This summer, the Board of Trustees announced the creation of the Board Committee for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Chaired by trustee Demetris White Cheatham, the group is tasked with providing ongoing visioning and governance of the school’s DE&I efforts. It’s another step forward in creating a more diverse, equitable and inclusive learning environment for all students at Ravenscroft, which this year reached 31% diversity in the student body, among those reporting.

The school’s efforts in DE&I have also been, in no small way, thanks to the leadership and encouragement of Parents Supporting Diversity and Inclusion (PSDI). The group grew out of the work of two parents, Adama Washington and Tijuana Crosby, who wanted their children to benefit from the fullness of a diverse and welcoming school community.

“In deciding whether to enroll my girls into the school, I knew it was important for them to have a place where they were not only growing intellectually but also emotionally and socially,” Crosby said. “We visited and talked to other independent schools in the area in order to obtain ideas on how to develop this program. We presented our ideas to Head of School Doreen Kelly, which ultimately resulted in PSDI.”

“Dear Martin” author Nic Stone enjoys a talk and reception with parents from PSDI during her visit to campus in 2018.


The goals of PSDI are simple yet crucial: to promote awareness and education of diversity and inclusion, encourage enhanced programming and engagement within the school community and provide outreach and support to Ravenscroft families from all backgrounds. Parents involved with PSDI have advocated for changes in the Upper School’s selection process for Homecoming Court to create more diversity; worked with the administration to encourage more students to apply to attend the Student Diversity Leadership Conference; and helped establish affinity groups that allow students, employees and families to connect with people who share aspects of their identity. 

“In the Upper School, our student affinity groups have been an important support system that strives to help more students feel welcomed, valued and celebrated,” said Upper School English teacher Shelley Torres, who is the faculty advisor for Nubian Queens, an affinity group for African-American and African Upper School girls. “I’m grateful for the time, energy and passion Ali Olney,  Maria Rodriguez, Matt Thomas, Philip Kielty and Jessica Yonzan have continued to give to affinity groups as faculty sponsors. Together, we are supporting students as our community grows in its understanding of the interconnectedness of inclusion and empathy.”

Quenton Blache ’19, William DeStaffan ’20 and David Kim ’20 perform a medley, arranged by Quenton, at the Upper School’s 2019 SPEAK program, which seeks to create a kinder and more equitable environment.


With many on-campus events still on hold due to COVID-19, PSDI is planning virtual parent education sessions on topics related to diversity and inclusion. Along with Assistant Head of School for Human Resources and Diversity & Inclusion Lisa Horton, the group also created a list of books written by authors of color and those with disabilities for the PA’s virtual book fair in December.

As President Tamara Hayes explained, “We’ve changed the direction of the group so that we’re educating parents about the issues that affect us all. The group has seen a lot of growth, and we’re happy to be working with school leadership to see things get accomplished and new programs put in place.”

“PSDI has created a formal networking community that provides opportunities for developing positive relationships, social support and engagement across all grade levels, ensuring that everyone who joins the Ravenscroft community will feel a sense of purpose, value and belonging,” Crosby added. “I am most proud to see the growth of diverse populations in the Ravenscroft environment — students, faculty and administration.”

Left: As part of its outreach, PSDI hosts back-to-school family barbecues at Pugh Pond as well as monthly lunches for Upper School students.
Above: PSDI founding committee members enjoy a social in December 2012 to celebrate their work.

Above, displays created by parent volunteers with PSDI celebrate 2018’s Black History Month in the Lower School.

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Want to get involved with a parent group? Check the school’s master calendar for Zoom meeting dates and links, and read the dedicated “Parent Involvement” section of the Ravenscroft Weekly for information and updates.

Insights

Faculty and staff discuss the impact of parent groups on our school and community.

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