On January 24, Bank Street School for Children welcomed parents and educators from across New York City for a community conversation on social justice parenting and supporting children in becoming socially conscious, caring individuals.
Hosted in partnership with The Calhoun School, The Cathedral School, and Corlears School, the event began with a presentation by Traci Baxley, author of Social Justice Parenting: How to Raise Compassionate, Anti-Racist, Justice-Minded Kids in an Unjust World, followed by a discussion with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) leaders from each school.
To begin, Dr. Baxley, who is also a professor at Florida Atlantic University and DEI coach and consultant, shared highlights from her book, including a four-part “road map to social justice parenting.” She explained this starts with radical love—an idea fueled by compassion and understanding, listening to others, and creating spaces of belonging for all—followed by core values for families, including “rocks” (an acronym for reflection, open dialogue, compassion, kindness, and social engagement) and active hope.
“It all begins with radical love, seeing the humanness in all of us, opening up our hearts and our minds for space so we can hear everyone’s stories, and then that creates core values,” said Dr. Baxley as she summarized these principles. “It’s a way that we guide our kids in the decisions that they make in their lives.”
Following the presentation, Dr. Baxley joined DEI Directors Maria Richa, Bank Street School for Children; John Gentile, The Calhoun School; Alan Donaldson, The Cathedral School; and Mansi Vasa, Corlears School; to answer questions and engage in a deeper discussion around supporting children, families, and schools in this work.
Questions explored various topics, such as how families and schools can work together to facilitate open dialogue and safe spaces and the role of schools in supporting a child’s identity development alongside the symbiotic relationship of home.
“It’s really important that we start to do the work of unpacking our own [biases] so that we can get to know our students, get to know our own children too, to let them identify who they are and, through this, we get to know how to nourish that,” said Dr. Baxley. “It’s not just isolated diversity and inclusion, it really is social-emotional learning and part of that social-emotional learning is about how kids identify and how we support them in identifying who they are, how to self–regulate, self-identify, and self-advocate.”
Attendees also had the opportunity to ask questions, including how to navigate relationships and interactions with people who have different values, opinions, and ideas, before enjoying a reception and book signing in the lobby.
“We came together for this event because all of our schools support social justice work, and we value collaboration with families since they are as essential for children to become future leaders in this work,” said Richa. “This was a wonderful opportunity for us to think about how we can support children in navigating the world around them, recognizing that fair and unfair things happen, and how to be more compassionate and caring individuals.”
Doug Knecht, Dean of Children’s Programs and Head of the School for Children, added, “We were so pleased to host Dr. Baxley and partner with neighboring schools who share our commitment to social justice and advocacy and building a better world through education.”