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Summer Reading to Inspire Race-Related Conversations in Middle School Advisory

This summer, all Middle School students were asked to read Jerry Craft’s graphic novel, New Kid. The book features Jordan, a seventh grader whose parents enroll him in an elite private school where he is one of the few kids of color there. “The shared read will provide Middle School Advisors a unique opportunity to discuss race-related issues with our students,” says Lila Corgan, an English Teacher and the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Coordinator in Middle School. 

Ms. Corgan created a 15-week Advisory Discussion & Resource Guide to help Middle School advisors facilitate weekly race-based conversations with their students. The curriculum introduces topics including code-switching, minority representation in literature, stereotypes, microagressions, the racial wealth gap, affinity groups, redlining, and more, along with a discussion guide to help spark thoughtful and honest conversations.

“We know that many adults struggle with finding the ‘right way’ to discuss race and racism, and that’s largely because growing up, our own schools failed to help us develop a race-conscious schema,” explains Ms. Corgan. “If we’re serious about practicing anti-racism at Shipley, we need all adults and students on campus to embrace these conversations. Will the dialogue be clunky at first? Yes. Will we experience discomfort? Yes. But saying nothing can no longer be an option. It is our obligation as educators to create safe spaces for real talk.”
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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.