Diversity, Equity & Inclusion News

Spotlight on DEI in Middle School Classrooms: November 2021

Representation is an important aspect of building a more inclusive and equitable world. All people—especially young people—need to see themselves reflected back to them in the books they read, the historical figures they learn about, and the leaders who we try to emulate. DEI work compels us to widen our perspectives; we can only do that if we learn about them. From science to history, our Middle School students engage in this critical work all the time. Read to learn more about what they have been up to in their classes.

In Jeff Hanna’s Art classes, sixth grade students studied ceramicist Doyle Lane and his unique style of glazing weed pots; seventh grade students created plaster masks inspired by different cultures from around the globe; and eighth grade students created figurative sculptures after listening to sculptor Macy Ellen Churchville discuss her work entitled “Sienna.”

In Austin Wagner’s Percussion Ensembles, students explore the diverse world of percussion through their Percussionist of the Month series. Last month, they studied the music of drummer Bernard Purdie, a staple of American soul and funk, and marimbist She-e Wu, one of America’s premiere marimba soloists.

In Jamie O’Leary and Maria Haering’s SEED class, seventh graders are focusing on how culture and relationships can shape a person’s sexuality and sexual decision-making. The UnHushed program is thoughtfully LGBTQ+-inclusive and encourages students to consider and embrace the diversity of genders, bodies, religions, backgrounds, and more. 

In Kat Wilson’s Pre-Algebra classes, students brainstormed and discussed individual responses to the question, “Who uses math?” Responses included artists, landscapers, plumbers, astronauts, athletes, phlebotomists, and a diverse array of other professionals!

In Ace Schwarz, Joe Frigo, and Sean Legnini’s science classes, seventh graders examined five different graphs that broke down gender, sexuality, and race in STEM fields. They completed a “Notice and Wonder” protocol about each graph and then had a discussion about patterns and big takeaways from their observations. They learned that STEM is making progress in terms of diversity and inclusion, but equity within STEM fields is not quite there yet. Sixth and eighth graders have studied non-traditional scientists (people who use the process of scientific inquiry each day).

In Rick Mueller, Brandon Rotondo, and Mark Stetina’s History classes, sixth graders studied major cities outside of the United States including New Delhi, Mexico City, and Dubai. Seventh graders read the prologue to Clint Smith’s book, How the Word is Passed, before they researched a location in Pennsylvania that had a relationship with slavery. Students were tasked with analyzing whether that historical location addresses slavery or ignores it. Eighth graders watched and discussed Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TEDTalk, “The Danger of a Single Story.”

In Kalli Damschen, Kirsten Small, and Lila Corgan’s English classes, sixth graders created their own fantasy fiction protagonists, describing in writing characteristics such as their gender, race, culture, language, ability, and homeland. In conjunction with reading House on Mango Street by Mexican-American author, Sandra Cisneros, eighth graders examined parts of their identity that they have defined or re-defined in their own coming-of-age journeys.

Learn more about DEI at Shipley.


Diversity, Equity & Inclusion News

The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.