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O’Dowd Faculty and Staff Participate in People of Color Conference

Faculty and staff attending the People of Color Conference (PoCC) are already putting practices into place that bring equity, inclusion and genuine support to O’Dowd students.

“We offered students the opportunity to connect with Academic Support around organization for the new semester, providing snacks and school supplies to organize student backpacks and schoolwork,” Harris said. “Our goal was to reach a wider group of students, meet new faces, and help students in a way that might not be the traditional view of ‘Academic Support.’ It was a success and hopefully the new connections we have made will remind students of the various ways we can assist them and open the doors for continued relationships throughout their time at O’Dowd.”

Held in Nashville, Tennessee, November 28-December 1, the PoCC conference, titled “Equitable Schools and Inclusive Communities: Harmony, Discord and the Notes in Between,” was sponsored by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). O’Dowd is a member school of this non-profit association that provides services to more than 1,500 independent private K-12 schools in the United States.

This was Harris’ second year attending and she found the experience energizing and emotional. “My favorite part has been connecting with others in the affinity groups. I attend the mixed race affinity group (her mother is from the Dominican Republic and her father is white American) and really enjoy the conversations with others about being ‘half and half’ and themes surrounding personal identity. It’s amazing to me how many similarities we have, even though we may look completely different and come from different cultures. Discussions like these help foster connections with people I may not have known I was similar to, and that is something I can bring back to the O’Dowd community,” she said.

Turner firmly believes that professional development opportunities are essential for adult learning and growth. “Taking time away from our day-to-day agenda to focus on ways in which we as adult educators can stimulate change, as well as connect with other educators to discuss best practices, is a critical step in our ability to progress. O’Dowd’s emphasis on a culture of care connects directly with our intention of creating spaces and curriculum where students feel connected, valued and challenged. PoCC is a great place for that type of adult learning, collaboration and inspiration to happen,” he said.

“One of the best takeaways from the conference for me was that although we are doing some good work here, there is still a lot of work to be done at O’Dowd around equity and inclusion. The more we have these conversations as a community and talk about ways we can better serve and represent our diverse student body in all areas from the classroom to counseling, academic support and beyond is imperative,” Wakeley added.

Others attending the conference included English teacher and Academic Support Department Liaison Damian Barnes  and Counselor Juliet Arechiga ’93.

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