Black Lives Matter at School Week Symposium

Black Lives Matter at School Week Early Childhood Symposium 2020

Exploring the Intersection of Gender and Race for Children Ages 0-8

Wednesday, February 5, 2020 from 4:00 PM – 8:00 PM
The Presidential Ballroom at The Faculty House, Columbia University
64 Morningside Drive, New York City

  • Overview

    Black Lives Matter at School Week is an annual movement designed to promote dialogue, curricula, and community events that explore structural racism and the policies that promote equity for Black children. On Wednesday, February 5, 2020, Bank Street’s Center on Culture, Race & Equity will host a symposium as part of Black Lives Matter at School Week that explores the intersection of gender and race for 0- to 8-year-olds.

    Because children inhabit multiple identities, it is important to consider the ways in which gender and race intersect for very young Black children, including the disparities they experience in educational settings and also the opportunities for interrupting these disparities as early as possible. Attendees will learn about strength-based approaches and curricula that are being implemented to support, educate, and liberate very young Black girls, boys, and gender non-conforming and transgender children.

    We are excited to share that Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility is a community collaborating partner for this event. The collaboration between the Center on Culture, Race & Equity and Morningside Center is a result of our mutual understanding that creating equitable, culturally responsive, and restorative learning environments for our children begins in preschool.

    During the event the Bank Street Bookstore will be selling books related to this year’s symposium theme. Jodie Patterson, our keynote speaker, will be signing copies of her book, The Bold World: A Memoir of Family and Transformation, which will also be available for purchase. In addition, a limited number of t-shirts will be available for purchase.

    To learn more, download a flyer about the event in English (pdf) or Spanish (pdf). To register, follow the link below.


  • Schedule of Events
    4:00 PM Welcome and Opening Remarks
    4:20 PM Keynote Speech and Audience Q&A
    5:00 PM Panelist Presentations
    5:45 PM Moderated Discussion and Audience Q&A
    6:30 PM Book Signing, Light Refreshments
    7:00 PM Community Building and Knowledge Share
    7:45 PM Call to Action and Closing

    During the event, interpretation will be provided in Spanish
    Durante el evento, la interpretación estará disponible en español.

  • Opening Remarks

    Takiema Bunche-Smith, GSE ’97
    Executive Director, Bank Street’s Center on Culture, Race & Equity (she/her)
    Takiema Bunche-Smith has worked for over two decades in support of children, families, and educational programs and systems through her work as a teacher, teacher educator, curriculum director, parent activist, and executive leader. Her life’s work has been guided by a deep commitment to racial equity, social justice, and a belief that centering the histories and perspectives of marginalized people can support individuals, institutions, and systems to become more equitable for all. Takiema has presented on education related topics to a variety of audiences across New York, the United States and Sweden, and has published articles and op-eds in venues such as Childhood Education Innovations, NAEYC Young Children, Al-Jazeera and The Washington Post. She is also a doula, and is passionate about creating a culture of self-care, particularly as it relates to professional environments. Takiema holds master’s degrees in Early Childhood & Elementary Education from Bank Street College, Urban Education Policy from the CUNY Graduate Center, and non-profit leadership and management from NYU Wagner.

    Zipporiah Mills, Educator of Ceremonies
    Equity Specialist, Bank Street Center on Culture, Race & Equity (she/her)
    Zipporiah Mills has over 30 years of experience as both a teacher and school leader and is now an Equity Specialist at Bank Street’s Center on Culture, Race & Equity. Zipp spent all of her career as an educator in schools through Brooklyn, most recently retiring from the New York City Department of Education as the principal of PS 261, one of District 15’s most diverse elementary schools. At a young age, Zipp understood that education plays an important role in creating an anti-racist, equitable society. She sought to bring cultural pride, respect for all, and a progressive education to her students. She holds fast to the belief that anything private schools students have access to, public school students should too. Zipp believes that equity begins with caring, supportive partnerships between teachers, parents, and students. Her goal is to support schools through this demanding, ever changing terrain. Her mission is to create culturally responsive communities for learning and success.

    Shael Polakow-Suransky, GSE ’00
    President, Bank Street College (he/him)
    Shael Polakow-Suransky, GSE ’00, is a graduate of Bank Street’s Principals Institute and the first alumnus to serve as president of the College. Under his leadership, Bank Street is building new models for teacher education, expanding its work with public schools and child care centers, and focusing on translating innovative education practices into policies that work at scale. Prior to this role, Shael was the second-in-command at the New York City Department of Education, serving as Chief Academic Officer and Senior Deputy Chancellor. In the nation’s largest school system, Shael oversaw teaching and learning across more than 1,600 district schools. In this role, he was a strong advocate for teacher and principal autonomy, balanced accountability, and reforms designed to improve learning experiences for the most vulnerable students. Earlier in his career, Shael worked as a teacher and as the founding principal of Bronx International High School. He holds a BA from Brown University, where Ted Sizer was his mentor, and a Master’s in Educational Leadership from Bank Street.

  • Panelists
    Keynote Speaker

    Jodie Patterson, SFC ’84
    LGBTQAI Advocate, Activist, Author (she/her)
    Jodie Patterson is a social activist, entrepreneur, and writer. She has been lauded for her activist work by Hillary Clinton, The Advocate, Family Circle, Essence, Cosmopolitan, and Yahoo!, among others. She works closely with several gender/family/human rights organizations, including serving as Chair of the Board of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, and is a soughtout public speaker addressing a wide range of audiences about identity, gender, beauty, and entrepreneurship. Patterson was appointed by the United Nations as a Champion of Change and is a former circus acrobat who performed in the Big Apple Circus. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she co-parents her five children with love, education, and family solidarity.


    Akiea Gross
    Social Entrepreneur and Founder, Equitable Schools, Inc. (they/them)
    Akiea Gross is a former instructional coach, kindergarten teacher, and creative entrepreneur who believes in designing a more inclusive, equity-, and empathy-driven world through education, music, and the arts. Akiea is the founder of #BlackTeachersMatter, Equitable Schools, Inc., Womxyn Amplify, LLC, and the creator and producer of the inclusive concert series Sisters Unsigned. Currently, they develop and implement equity, empathy, and early childhood centered workshops through their consulting arm, Woke Kindergarten. Akiea is a 2014 graduate (summa cum laude), Zankel Fellow, and Graduate Assistant of Teachers College, Columbia University, where they received their MA in Developmental Psychology. They also hold an MS in Childhood Education/Special Education 1-6 through Harlem Village Academy’s Progressive Education Institute (PEI), where they graduated and spoke at commencement in 2017. Akiea holds two bachelor’s degrees in Child Development and Family Studies and Psychology from UNC-Chapel Hill, respectively.


    Megan Pamela Ruth Madison
    Facilitator, Scholar, and Community Organizer (she/her)
    Megan Pamela Ruth Madison is a facilitator, scholar, and community organizer. Megan began her career as a preschool teacher after earning her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan. Currently, she facilitates workshops for teachers, families, and activists on racism, sexism, and antisemitism while working toward her doctorate at Brandeis University. She serves on the Board of Directors for Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (or JFREJ) and the Jewish Organizing Institute & Network (JOIN for Justice) as well as on the governing board of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Megan grew up in northern Michigan and now calls New York City home.

    Joseph Derrick Nelson
    Assistant Professor, Swarthmore College, Educational Studies (he/him)
    Joseph Derrick Nelson is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Studies at Swarthmore College, and affiliated faculty with the Black Studies Program. He is also a senior research fellow with the Center for the Study of Boys’ and Girls’ Lives at the University of Pennsylvania. Trained as a sociologist of education, his research examines race, boyhood, and education within learning environments that largely serve Black students from neighborhoods with concentrated poverty. His research has been featured in the Washington Post, The Atlantic, and National Public Radio. He is a co-editor of the forthcoming Routledge Handbook on Boyhood in the United States. In the United States and abroad, he has presented his research at The White House Summit for Children’s Media and Toys, the Ideas Festival of the Aspen Institute, and the International Boys’ School Coalition. In his hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Dr. Nelson taught first-grade in a single-sex class of boys of color in the high-poverty neighborhood where he grew up.

    Laleña Garcia, GSE ’02
    Kindergarten Teacher and Gender and Sexuality Trainer (she/her)
    Laleña Garcia is a kindergarten teacher at Manhattan Country School. After receiving her BA in History from Yale University in 1998, Laleña worked with high school students in New Haven, CT long enough to realize her love is early childhood. In 2000, she began teaching in New York City after receiving the Minority Fellowship from Bank Street College and later graduated from Bank Street with an MS in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. In 2018, Laleña helped organize New York City’s first year of participation in the Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action and created a document translating the Thirteen Principles of the Movement for Black Lives into child-friendly language to support classroom teachers beginning this work. Laleña also works for the Early Childhood Professional Development Institute as a Gender and Sexuality Trainer, partnering with early childhood professionals and families to create expansive and supportive understandings of gender, sexuality, and family structure.