A group of 15 NCCS administrators, trustees, parents, faculty, students and alumni participated as a “pod” in the inaugural Pollyanna Conference in Connecticut on April 10. The conference, which was entitled, “Climate of Belonging: Challenging Our Past to Reimagine Our Future,” was hosted virtually by Westover School with the intent to “allow us to think about and examine the current structures, biases, and privileges in place at our schools as well as how we might adapt our schools and policies to be more inclusive.”
Pollyanna conferences are structured a bit differently than other conferences. Each school group attends as a “pod” representing a variety or roles in advancing the diversity and inclusion discussion at their school. The interactive program culminates with a workshop of each school’s pod to create an action plan.
The conference included a keynote presentation by author, educator and activist Dr. Bettina L. Love, who is the award-winning author of We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom. Dr. Love spoke about the intersection of race, education, abolition, and Black joy.
“The opportunity to have deep discussion about our school and our vision for its future with a group including representation from so many different constituencies was both unique and invigorating,” said Head of School Aaron Cooper.
"It was a great opportunity to gather perspectives from across the school for inspiration, courageous conversation and action planning. The ideas that emerged that will inform Country School’s DEI efforts in concrete ways, as we work to build an even stronger community in which all are seen, heard and valued,” said Sarah Irwin, President of the Board of Trustees
Attendees in the NCCS pod included: Sarah Irwin, President of the Board of Trustees; Chris Bogart, trustee and chair of the board DEI committee; Head of School Aaron Cooper; Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Kojo Clarke, Director of Marketing & Communications Brooke Arthur; Senior Director of Advancement Ryan Smith; Upper School Teacher Liz Carroll, Lower School Teacher and DEI Facilitator Jess McKinney; Middle School Teacher and DEI Facilitator Brayden Henry; students Daniel Marin and Penelope Arredondo; parents and members of the Parent DEI Task Force Andree Palmgren and Michelle Saldivar (VP, Community and DEI for the Parents’ Association); and alumni Meaghan Mancini ‘03 and Kyla Johns ‘12.
New Canaan Country School admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin and are afforded all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, age, sex, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry, or disability in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, financial aid policies or any other school-administered programs.