As an educator and parent, I know the important and powerful role relationships play in creating a vibrant, thriving school community. In fact, relationships are at the heart of a key strategic priority for Turning Point, articulated in an essential question: How do we continue to foster a highly engaged, inclusive community? Desired outcomes include more socio-economic diversity within our community, increased support for underrepresented families, and ongoing support and training for our faculty and staff to address and navigate issues of diversity, inclusion, and equity.
At Turning Point, we know a diverse and inclusive environment improves learning outcomes for all students and that good teaching—that communicates to students our faith in their ability to achieve—is foundational to establishing positive relationships. In both our teaching and learning, we consistently work to sharpen tools, apply research-based strategies, and hone our practices in fostering equity and inclusion.
Last year, we spent time with Elizabeth Denevi, Associate Director of Mid West Educational Collective, a non-profit agency that works with schools nationally to increase equity, promote diversity pedagogy, and implement strategic processes for growth and development. She is also the co-founder of Teaching While White, an organization that seeks to advance the conversation on how to be consciously, intentionally, anti-racist in the classroom.
Over the summer, our faculty and staff read Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People which addresses the unconscious, automatic, less reflective aspects of the mind and the decisions humans make about themselves and others in society. We all have blind spots, so we want to think about what we are missing, based on who we are and where we are positioned in the world. Who we are can influence how we interact with others, and these interactions are often unconscious and unexamined.
As we continue these conversations, we are thrilled to partner with Dr. Derrick Gay to help us to reach our goals of inclusivity and equity at Turning Point School. Dr. Gay has 20 years of independent school experience as a language teacher, advisor, and senior administrator who currently consults with schools, nationally and abroad, to create more inclusive school communities. Dr. Gay has partnered with scores of independent schools and collaborates with thought leaders to foster empathy, enrich inclusion, and cultivate cultural competency.
Dr. Gay defines diversity as a quantitative measure of difference within a community; when we talk about Turning Point mirroring the heterogeneity of Los Angeles, we are referring to diversity. On the other hand, Dr. Gay sees inclusivity as “capturing the ways in which individuals and groups perceive an authentic sense of belonging.” While we have much reason to celebrate the quantitative differences among our members, we want to be vigilant about making sure we are doing all we can to ensure that all our families feel a sense of belonging here so that everyone can thrive.
As many of you know, our professional development opportunities include programming for parents, for students, and for faculty and staff. Dr. Gay will join us next Wednesday, September 26, to meet with all our crucial constituents, and faculty and staff will continue our work with Dr. Gay at our February in-service days.
I hope you can join us next Wednesday for what promises to be a thoughtful and engaging conversation with Dr. Gay. Your presence helps send a strong message that we, as a school, consider these topics to be highly relevant and vital to our children’s present and future. Please feel free to bring guests from outside of Turning Point, too; we are proud to serve as ambassadors for this important conversation, and know that we all benefit when equity and inclusion is broadly discussed, both inside and outside the Turning Point community.
Inclusion is a practice, not a destination. We invite experts on diversity and equity to visit with us regularly because they help us surface and elevate best practices, which we then carry out every day in our teaching and learning. These continued conversations require us to be self-reflective, courageous, and honest with ourselves and others.
Positive and respectful relationships anchor all we do at Turning Point. They allow us to make visible the invisible by listening to and acknowledging the myriad points of view among our members. Our values ensure that Turning Point is a place where people in our community feel safe, where students are profoundly engaged in learning that connects them to real life, and where educators strive to continuously improve and advance their practice.
I am excited for all of us—parents, students, faculty, and staff—to learn from Dr. Gay as we continue to raise Turning Point’s voice in this globally-important dialogue.
Dr. Laura Konigsberg
Head of School