Senior Associates Jennifer Imholt and Julie Ryan represented Search Associates at the 30th annual National Association of Independent School (NAIS) People of Color Conference (POCC) in Anaheim, CA Nov. 29-Dec. 1, 2017. The theme of the smoothly-run conference was “Lead, Learn, Rededicate, and Deliver: Voices for Equity and Justice Now and in Every Generation.”
The First National Conference for Teachers and Administrators of Color in Independent Schools was held in Reston, Virginia in 1986. The event’s website describes the importance of this annual meeting:
“The wisdom and perspective of people of color tends to be a “minority” view in independent schools (and other businesses and organizations in the U.S., particularly), despite the fact that people of color comprise a world majority. Because of this, the NAIS People of Color Conference offers attendees the empowering experience of an interactional space that more closely mirrors world racial and ethnic demography, and the professional development scope and vision necessary to refocus their work and learning through an equity perspective.”
This year, nearly 6,000 attendees, teachers and administrators from independent schools, along with groups of secondary school students, heard four excellent keynote speeches, in addition to participating in a large variety of interactive workshops focused on the theme. At the conference, there was a lot of conversation around “Walk the Talk.” In other words, it is one thing to talk about having diverse faculty in schools and to support students and teachers of color, but what are schools actually doing with regards to key aspects of school culture, such as curriculum and social events?
Julie and Jennifer attended two thought-provoking sessions: “Recruiting, Retaining, and Recognizing Young Faculty of Color” and “Recruiting without Bias.” They heard about various strategies to increase recruiting, but it was emphasized that this is just the start. It’s important to set young teachers up to thrive, not just survive. A school’s culture and curriculum reflect everything that goes on in a school and, together, provide much of the truth about what is really going on. Furthermore, are we encouraging outstanding students of color to go into education? If they don’t see role models in their schools, we cannot expect for this to occur organically. Students who are exposed to a range of voices and perspectives will be better able to deal with adult life and their role in the world. That’s why it is so important to recruit unique and diverse teachers and administrators to work in our schools.
Jennifer and Julie had a great opportunity to connect with many amazing potential Search Associates candidates who currently work in independent schools around the U.S. They even had some pleasant surprises as they met up with some of our current Search Associates candidates! With a plan to triple the amount of brochures at their busy table, our Associates are looking forward to next year’s NAIS POCC in Nashville.