May 2020 Update from Pollyanna
Pollyanna advances systemic change by developing stronger communities.
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.
May 2020

We hope this email finds you and your family healthy, safe and managing during this time.

Pollyanna is learning every day that our work is more relevant than ever. A glaring spotlight is shining on equity issues for:

  • Children’s needs around distance learning
  • Essential workers who are so vulnerable to exposure
  • Black and Brown people who face higher rates of infection and death
  • Asian people who are the target of hate and violence
  • People of Color who are afraid of being racially profiled while wearing masks

Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, was on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah recently and pointed out, “Katrina exposed the inequality in race and racism….and we didn’t learn the lessons there. We’re once again being presented with a national emergency that exposes the core issue of inequality and race, and the question is, are we going to learn the lesson this time?” Our work is needed and indeed very relevant.

Pollyanna is resilient and pivoting to make sure we are still a resource for teachers and administrators. We have re-imagined our conference models and moved them online, developed a 6-session weekly discussion on Zoom beginning in May (read below), and are also looking into expanding our K-8 Racial Literacy Curriculum to include lessons for pre-k and high school. With your continued support, we will emerge from this moment stronger than ever.


What's Happened

Dalton's 10th Conference Moves Online
Dalton’s 10th Annual Conference – Reflect - Assess - Plan DEI Initiatives – moved online in April. All of the same elements that made the first nine conferences successful were not sacrificed. To limit screen time, the welcome video by head of school Jim Best and the keynote speech by journalist Deborah Roberts were shared a few days before the conference. The morning discussion by constituent group took place in many Zoom breakout rooms as did the afternoon School POD discussions. The student piece was reimagined and a video was made during their morning session and shared with each POD in the afternoon. The afternoon ended with a reflection by Jim Best.
Throughout the ten years, the Dalton Conference explored many topics, invited outstanding keynote speakers, welcomed more schools each year and doubled in size. This year focused on the direction schools need to head. In addition to the Head of School and DEI Director survey results, a compilation of constituent notes taken over the last nine years were shared with conference participants. This offered a great deal of information and served as a jumpstart for the discussions.
Self-Care Everyday
The Child Mind Institute’s recommendation in the time of Coronavirus: “when you prioritize your needs, you’re filling the tank, emotionally and physically, and that means you’ll be in a position to offer comfort and care to others when they need it most.” It's important to take care of ourselves so we can be there for each other. What do you do for self-care?

Practicing lovingkindness meditation is great for self-care. It helps to increase positive emotions and decrease the negative ones. Each session ends with the following words and we’d like to share them with you:

May you be happy
May you be healthy
May you be safe
May you live with ease


What's Next

BEGINNING WEEK OF MAY 4 THROUGH JUNE 15: Two Pollyanna Discussion Groups 
Our hope is to create a space for educators, families, and friends to share narratives, learn new strategies, and, perhaps most importantly, appreciate and celebrate each other’s work across school communities during this unique time. The School Equity forums will focus specifically on questions relevant to teachers and administrators related to the work of diversity, equity and inclusion and how this work might be affected as we move forward. Likewise, the Parenting forums will allow families to connect, share… and possibly decompress with families facing similar joys and challenges during this time. Each 60 minute conversation will be centered on a specific topic with guiding questions, and led by Pollyanna team members. Through an online format, we hope to recreate some of the connection and support many of us are missing while apart from our schools.
Please click on each free forum for the schedules, topics and guiding questions, and to register for any or all of the groups. We hope you will join us for conversation, connection, and learning.  EQUITY WORK in the NEW NORMAL &/or PARENTING during a PANDEMIC
MAY 5: A Hilltop Racial Literacy Parent Event 
RIISE, Riverdale and Horace Mann: How to (Further) Engage Our Children in Conversations About Race and Racism. Our current pandemic has amplified the systemic nature of racism, as people of color and low income communities have been disproportionately impacted. Even though race dominates society –– our policies and life expectancy, our media and news cycles, our sense of identity and psyche –– many adults never received a formal education to better understand how race and/or racism functions, and some households today do not proactively speak about it. Now, perhaps more than ever, is the time to do so. Join Monique Vogelsang, lead creator of this Curriculum and Guide, will review key racial literacy ideas, such as how racist policies have created vast inequities across society. She will also highlight books and media sources, discussion topics, and activities for families to further develop their racial literacy skills. 
JUNE 6: 3-hour K-8 Racial Literacy Curriculum Professional Development 
Examples of inequality, race, racism and privilege are all around us now. How are you bringing these conversations to your students? Join us for an Open Professional Development Workshop on Zoom for our K-8 Racial Literacy Curriculum from 1:00-4:00PM EST. During this workshop, Monique Vogelsang will introduce the curriculum, which was released to schools free of charge in 2019. Together, we'll review curricular highlights of each grade, so educators can better understand how to address race in the classroom. After taking this workshop, participants will feel more confident and inspired to incorporate race dialogue and content into their existing curriculum. Click here to register.
What We Offer
Cross-Constituent Assessment
This is designed for a school that wants to investigate cultural and environmental perspectives on DEI topics, a Cross-Constituent Assessment is designed and implemented and consists of online surveys, focus groups and a comprehensive summary of both qualitative and quantitative data to provide infrastructure for on-going initiatives.
Independent School Conference
This original conference emphasizes our motto “Every Voice Matters” by including all constituent groups at schools: administrators, alumni, diversity, equity and inclusion practitioners, faculty, parents, students and trustees. This Conference model is available to schools around the US and in Canada. The school that hosts this conference in a specific geographic region welcomes peer schools in that region to discuss challenges and effective practices around a specific diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) topic, and generate Action Plans to create movement at each of the attending schools.
Pollyanna designed the Intra-Conference as an institutional capacity-building opportunity for schools that want to deepen their knowledge, enhance practices and improve skills in the areas of DEI. This is for schools that would like to build community, develop a strategic plan, or rewrite mission and vision statements. This Conference brings a school together and establishes and strengthens community connections. It informs the community and provides a platform for sharing personal experiences, expressing opinions and perspectives, and generating solutions for growth. Constituent groups included in this model are: alumni, alumni parents, employees, students and parents.
K-8 Racial Literacy Curriculum
Engaging and accessible, the Curriculum is designed to help students gain knowledge about race as it has been constructed in the US, and aims to help students acquire an awareness of their own racial socialization and skills for engaging in productive conversations about race and racism.  If you use any of the lessons and post them to social media, tag Pollyanna!
Parent/Guardian Companion Guide
The Guide provides an in-depth overview of each unit featured in the K-8 Racial Literacy Curriculum, recommends questions and conversation suggestions for parents and guardians to facilitate dialogue at home that centers on race, culture, and identity, and suggests reading and viewing material to enhance racial literacy. 
Professional Development Workshops and Parent Discussion Groups
We offer Racial Literacy Professional Development for faculty and also Racial Literacy Discussion Groups for parents at your school. For more information about PD and Discussion Groups or to schedule workshops and discussions, please email Claire at  
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