Community & Diversity — Who We Are
Diversity at Bank Street
At Bank Street, we strive to acknowledge, support and educate our community of children and adults to be sensitive to, and respectful of, the diversity in our own community and beyond. It is an important part of our mission and philosophy to help children develop their abilities to become advocates for diversity and social justice. As such, the pedagogy in our classrooms — in all subject areas — has a strong foundation in social justice, equity and advocacy.
We view diversity broadly, and much of our curriculum and programming reflects this, focusing on topics such as race, ethnicity, socioeconomics, social class, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, family structure, ability and learning styles in developmentally appropriate ways.
The School for Children makes a concerted effort to admit families and hire faculty from diverse backgrounds in order to reflect the diversity of our multicultural society. This effort is consistent with the progressive idea that schools should represent the society in which they exist. Bank Street is a place where children, faculty and families actively engage with the changing ideas and values of a democracy, with what schooling means for each individual and group, and how this affects teaching and learning.
The Director of Diversity and Community
The Director of Diversity & Community engages with students, faculty and families to help educate and promote understanding of diversity and equity. As a member of the school’s Leadership Team, the Director of Diversity & Community works with the Head of School, Division Coordinators and Admissions to create and maintain a climate of inclusion that supports all members of the community. The Director of Diversity & Community collaborates in the school’s efforts to hire and support a diverse faculty, and assists teachers in developing an inclusive curriculum. The Director of Diversity & Community also provides leadership and support for the Affinity Groups within the school: Kids of Color; Touched By Adoption Student Group; Educators of Color; White Antiracist Affinity Group; Parents of Children of Color; Touched By Adoption Parent Group; and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Allies Parent Group.
Affinity Groups bring together people whose identity-based perspectives are often misunderstood or under-represented. Affinity groups provide spaces to share common experiences and identify ways in which members can be better represented in the culture of the school. We have affinity groups for children and adults (both educators and parents), which meet regularly and provide programming for the community. The school supports the initiatives of the Affinity Groups, as they contribute to the well-being of their members and the larger community. These groups provide the school with a better understanding of diversity and inclusion, and their impact on the children’s experiences in school and in the larger community. The current Affinity Groups in the School are:
Kids of Color Groups (KOC)
Bank Street offers Kids of Color (KOC) affinity groups in the Middle and Upper School, which are facilitated by a faculty member of color. The groups have similar goals: to provide a space where students of color are in a majority setting; to support students of color in the positive development of their racial and ethnic identity; to create an environment where children of color can feel free and comfortable to share their experiences and concerns; and to encourage students of color to develop age appropriate ownership and leadership in the dialogue about racial diversity.
In Middle School, there is a racial identity curriculum in which all students participate. This curriculum has a focus on advocacy and identity, and all students take part in developmentally appropriate lessons and activities based on themes related to racial identity. These lessons are critical in developing a better understanding of diversity issues and creating advocates for social justice and equity. There is an affinity group component to this curriculum for kids of color, and families determine participation.
In Upper School, a student who identifies as a person of color can elect to attend monthly KOC meetings. The 10/11s and 11/12s comprise KOC Junior, and the 12/13s and 13/14s comprise KOC Senior.
Touched by Adoption Student Group (TBA)
The Touched by Adoption student group is new to the Upper School as of 2016. The group serves to support our adopted students to build connections and provide opportunities for affirmation through group work, activities and dialogue. The group is facilitated by a clinical social worker whose focus is adoption, and who is a transracial adoptee.
Educators of Color (EOC)
The Educators of Color Group provides a space for Bank Street faculty who identify as people of color to be in a majority setting, share experiences and come together as a collective to influence initiatives in the school as a whole. EOC sometimes collaborates with WAAG to encourage further dialogue, understanding and collaboration.
White Antiracist Affinity Group (WAAG)
The White Antiracist Affinity Group is a place for Bank Street educators who identify as white and antiracist to discuss and explore their experiences living in our racially inequitable society. The group seeks to learn about and examine white culture and privilege and how it plays out in their lives and teaching. WAAG’s mission is to help white educators cultivate and affirm their anti-racist identities.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer & Allies Parenting Group (LGBTQA)
The LGBTQA group represents the spectrum of sexual orientation and gender identity in the Bank Street community. The group comes together to identify common needs and goals in the school. Objectives include supporting one another and children, identifying mutual concerns and interests and determining how best to pursue them, and increasing visibility of the LGBTQ community.
Parents of Children of Color (POCOC)
Parents of Children of Color is a coalition of parents whose goals are to identify common experiences and concerns and share solutions that enable them and their children to navigate more effectively experiences around racial identity, both in and out of school. POCOC meets monthly and sponsors regular programming for the entire Bank Street community.
Touched by Adoption Parent Group (TBA)
The Touched by Adoption parent group is a coalition of Bank Street families formed through adoption, and provides social support for all community members who are touched by adoption. The group advocates within the School for Children on issues surrounding adoption and provides programming on those issues, as well as helps increase teachers’ understanding of adoption and how the curriculum can reflect and support adopted children.