April 2023 Update from Pollyanna
April 2023
Dear Friend,
Like many adults, I sometimes fall into the trap of underestimating what teenagers are capable of when in the presence of an expert. Will they participate in the conversation? Will they ask good questions? Will they be intimidated?
Fortunately, our monthly Pollyanna Teen Council gatherings always serve to remind me of the idea that teenagers are often the best people to engage in challenging conversations. Our Teen Council is a fantastic group of thoughtful, open-minded, and committed young people. Over the course of this year, the Teen Council has had the opportunity to meet with a stunningly impressive array of DEIB experts from inside and outside the world of education. 
In March, our topic was “book banning” and censorship in schools. The Teen Council was able to spend time with author and scholar, Dr. Christine Emeran. Dr. Emeran is the Director of the Youth Free Expression Program at the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), an alliance of national nonprofit groups dedicated to protecting freedom of expression, including the rights of K-12 students, teachers, and staff. In her conversation with us, Dr. Emeran made the case that limiting access to ideas is fundamentally antithetical to a democratic society. She spoke eloquently about the challenges being faced by school librarians, in which their years of training in reviewing and vetting developmentally appropriate books, are now being undermined in recent attempts to scrub libraries of the lived experiences of marginalized peoples.
However, the most powerful piece of Dr. Emeran’s interview came when the Teen Council asked, “What can we do?”* Emeran noted that students might underestimate the power they have to make positive change. She encouraged students to organize, spread the word on social media, support the work of authors who have been banned, talk about the importance of books to their particular communities in op-eds, participate in advocacy training from various organizations, and start clubs at school.
This is the inspiration I wish to share with you this month. Every time I attend a Teen Council session, I leave it thinking: We need to recognize the power we have and stop underestimating ourselves. This seems the perfect message for inspiring young people to commit to the lifelong journey of activism and engagement in social justice. I am so proud of the Pollyanna Teen Council for modeling this type of attitude and never underestimating themselves. (As adults, we need to follow their lead.)
The Pollyanna Teen Council has two sessions left with expert speakers before the end of the school year:
April 22 - Young Leaders and Advocates Make A Difference with facilitator and writer, Ali Michael
May 6 - Celebrating Advocacy: Shining Light on Artists with Artist, King David (David Rampersad, Jr.)
If you know a teenager interested in these issues, please encourage them to sign up and join our incredible group of Teen Council leaders - Ava, Destynée, Emerson, Marcus and Josie, and the adults overseeing the Teen Council - Claire and Liz. These events are free, online and open to all 13- to 18-year-olds!
Casper Caldarola
* This question might feel particularly appropriate in the wake of yet another mass shooting at an American school. As we wrestle with the grief and trauma of this tragedy and contemplate how each of us might make a difference on behalf of our children’s most basic safety, please consider contributing or getting involved with the following organizations: Every Town for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action, and Americans for Responsible Solutions.

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Building Community Through Our Conferences
Join us on Tuesday, April 18 to learn more about the benefits of hosting Pollyanna’s Intra- and Multi-School Conference. This session is open to DEI Directors, Administrators, and Heads of Schools. Learn more and register here.
Marburn Academy and Pollyanna
The seminar will address common misconceptions about the intersectionality of gender and child development;
define key terms, including equity, inclusion, allyship, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, and social construct; offer research-based evidence and developmentally appropriate tips for addressing gender with students; and provide rationale for student affinity spaces and strategic home/school partnerships.
April 22 Teen Council Meet-up
All 13- to 18-year-olds are invited to join us for a special session with an extraordinary educator and speaker, Dr. Ali Michael. We come together for monthly discussions to learn how the student voice matters. Students may sign up on our page to receive the Zoom link.
Mark down May 13 with artist King David (David Rampersad).
The Student Voice
Jonathan Carroll of Harvard-Westlake captures student leadership beautifully. Every Pollyanna Conference leaves us in awe of students’ vision, courage, and commitment to creating the best school community possible, for all their classmates, by crafting and forwarding their school's DEIB goals.
Reach Out if We Can Be of Help with Your DEIB Planning
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Pollyanna works with academic and other institutions to achieve their diversity, equity and inclusion goals. Through its unique conference models, discussion platforms, and racial literacy curricula, Pollyanna increases cultural competence.
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