English Language teacher Charlotte Hogan and French teacher Miriam Przybyla-Baum attended the STAND UP! Symposium at Phillips Academy Andover on Thursday, April 16.
“From 1960s lunch counter sit-ins to recent movements at the University of Missouri, student activism has long sparked institutional change in American high schools, colleges and universities. And yet, independent schools have often been considered sites of privilege. How might these schools’ policies and histories engage or hinder student activism in equity and inclusion?”
Charlotte Hogan reports:
I was hoping to gain perspective on multicultural issues in independent schools, as the leader of the Multicultural club at SBS, so I signed up for the symposium. I found it to be a good source of information about designing social justice programs and supporting students of color in their struggle to make their experiences known and create change. As a white educator, it is necessary to always be peeling away the layers of bias that society imposes on me, and to learn to love the process, as uncomfortable as it can sometimes be. I witnessed conversations between people from different ethnicities describing how they felt divided and how crucial it is for them to support each other in activism. In schools, we need to be conscious and supportive of the relationships between our students from different cultures so that they can work together to shed light on areas of the community that need to be examined. Our students are driven and mature individuals who work together well already, but increased adult awareness and support can only help. One interesting question another educator asked which stuck with me was, “How can we keep students motivated by activism when their goals seem to never be fully realized in society?” And the answer was, “They need to learn to love and be engaged in the process.”
Miriam Przybyla-Baum reports:
I signed up for this symposium because I was looking forward to learning more about this topic and engaging in discussion with teachers from other schools beyond SBS. It certainly was interesting to see what is the same and what is different in other schools. It was also great that this opportunity was free and on a Thursday, so I only missed two classes (8th grade in DC)! I really weigh things like this when signing up for workshops.
I was hoping to learn more about student activism for two reasons. The first is the post-election house meeting where student and adult voices alike could be heard. There was a lot of pain and fear in the room on that day and I wanted to see us move forward. I also support our chaperoning the weekly vigil for racial justice. But the fact that we have to chaperone is disturbing, even in our “safe little town.” I’d love for us to find ways to fosters our girls’ activism on campus and off.
I was definitely wearing my Student Council Adviser hat for my first workshop on student voice. I feel confident that Sara Gibbons, the class deans and I are doing a good job with letting students lead! I learned so much in the second workshop and hope we can bring this researcher/speaker to campus. I feel more informed about implicit bias, stereotypes, racial anxiety and how the human brain functions.