As a natural extension of GDS’s historical commitment to diversity and equity, last year’s second annual Future of Diversity Symposium included 45 teams who engaged in conversation, creative collaboration, and a shared mission to further the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion within our independent schools. We did so with a belief that by opening our doors to one another, we would gain from sharing best practices. Teams of heads, trustees, and diversity leaders from around the country successfully co-created a “future of diversity” roadmap for their schools. We have heard from many that the work of the symposium has been instrumental in helping to shape and guide their work in diversity, equity, and inclusion.
This year, we are thrilled to announce that one of GDS’s action plans developed at FDS15—to add students and teacher facilitators to the Future of Diversity Symposium team design—will be realized this coming September! Each school is invited to bring 2–3 students (8th–12th grade) to participate in three days of student learning, leadership development, and relationship building connected to the mission of FDS. Students will be led by a group of highly experienced and effective student adult leaders.
FDS16 will expand upon the successful participatory leadership framework incorporated into last year’s event, via the facilitation of Tim Merry and Tuesday Ryan-Hart. Once again, understanding that there is a powerful and necessary connection between three branches of school leadership, the design of the school teams should consist of the head of school, a trustee, and a diversity practitioner, and if at all possible, 2-3 students.
Due to space limitations and program design, we can only accommodate 45 teams for FDS16. We have reserved 25 of these spaces for returning teams, and are providing 20 spaces for first-time teams who we believe will benefit from, add to, and build on the insights and experiences of our FDS14 and FDS15 colleagues. The first 25 returning teams to register, or email Lakaya Renfrow, by July 15 will be guaranteed spots.
This collaborative learning experience in the practice of leadership in equity, inclusion, and social justice work, along with the techniques and skills we gain during our time together, will further the work in our home schools. The focus of our time is on learning and growing together, modeling this learning, expanding upon our existing leadership skills, and doing so with a shared understanding that this work is critical and needs to be shared forward. This focus applies to both the adult and student symposium experiences. We believe strongly that only when diverse perspectives and experiences are represented in the lived work of our schools, will the greatest positive impact be made.
We look forward to having you with us in September! The Future of Diversity Symposium is designed to inform our individual schools’ next diversity, equity, and inclusion chapters and to serve as a growing catalyst and incubator for a national independent school conversation. We look forward to walking with you on the road ahead.