Spotlight on DEI in Middle School Classrooms

In Jeff Hanna’s Art class, eighth graders recently did a project incorporating pop art and referenced Keith Haring’s work. Haring was an openly gay artist who died of AIDS, and he used his work to advocate for safe sex. 

In Sarah Stehman, Lauren Luchetti, and John Harris’ math classes, students are re-writing problems taken from the textbook to ensure that diverse family structures and genders are represented. 
In Lauren Luchetti’s Pre-Algebra class, students completed a percentage project where they were assigned a job and salary at random and tasked with figuring out how to get a car loan, pay rent, purchase food, and still have money to save. 

In Lila Corgan and Kirsten Small’s English classes, students are examining ways in which our society demands that we conform through Ray Bradbury’s text, Fahrenheit 451

In Kirsten Small and Bill Lyon’s English 7 classes, students have been closing their examination of the role and ramifications of institutionalized racism, White privilege, and allyship in their study of To Kill a Mockingbird. Next, they will move on to their study of the Holocaust. They will look at the stages of genocide as they apply to this case study, as well as perpetrators, victims, upstanders, bystanders, resisters, and rescuers.

In Harley Givler’s 7th and 8th Grade Band, during  “Rainy Day Lessons” (literally on days of inclement weather in which they are not able to rehearse), students have been examining how music has been used to further social and political movements. Specifically, they watched and discussed Beethoven in Beijing, about the Philadelphia Orchestra’s 1973 visit to and performance in China. Students have also been studying the wide-ranging influence of Quincy Jones as a producer, composer, arranger, collaborator, and musical activist.

In Austin Wagner’s percussion class, students are working on a recording project featuring West African Rhumba rhythms. Throughout this process, they are discussing how these rhythms are foundational to jazz, rock, and numerous other styles of music.

In Julie Reil’s French 6 classes, students discussed the diversity within their own classroom, modeled after the Photo de Classe resource. 

An 8th grade SEED section is building connections with 6th graders at the Brain Tree School in Uganda as part of a leadership project. Each week, these two groups share a video on a theme, including kindness, conservation and even mathematics. They have discovered that they share many common interests, including dancing, singing, and watching movies. Students were surprised that when reflecting on their “biggest challenges,” over ¾ of students and both Shipley and Brain Tree reported “homework.”

In Rick Mueller’s History 8 class, students discussed the significance of Deb Haaland’s confirmation as the first Native American Interior secretary in U.S. history. A member of New Mexico’s Laguna Pueblo, Haaland wore moccasins to her historic swearing-in ceremony. In 6th grade,  students have finished their unit studying the life of Gandhi and how he used peaceful disobedience to achieve Indian independence.

In Matt Wellenbach and Anne Smith’s 8th grade Latin classes, students are exploring the various religions practiced by people in the Roman Empire, and Romans’ attitudes of tolerance and intolerance toward those religions. They have focused on worship of the Egyptian goddess Isis, and the spread of her cult throughout the ancient Mediterranean.


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.