October 2020 Update from Pollyanna
October 2020

“Real, enduring change happens one step at a time.”  ~ Ruth Bader Ginsburg

In moments like this, when the news is dominated by ever-shifting headlines about COVID-19, racial justice, climate change, and the integrity of our electoral system, it feels challenging to think about our activism in small steps. The depth and breadth of the news cycle seems more likely to motivate extreme reactions: either feeling completely immersed or wanting to unplug totally from the constant deluge of challenging information.

We are grateful for Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s guidance and inspiration, even as we mourn the loss of her voice, her wisdom, and her presence in one of our nation’s most sacred decision-making bodies. Her entire life was a model of relentless activism pursued strategically, pragmatically, and critically. She illuminated for us multiple pathways towards equity and equality for all. If you are seeking for a way to explain her significance to younger children, we recommend I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy and Elizabeth Baddeley as an excellent resource.  

The loss of Justice Ginsburg after a lifetime of service stands in tragic contrast to the death of Breonna Taylor and how her promising life was cut short by an unjust and violent system that continues to deny her and her family justice. We protest the outcome of the Grand Jury’s findings in Louisville and call for further actions to hold those responsible for Breonna’s death accountable. Breonna Taylor should have had the opportunity to live into her 80s, find and pursue her life’s passions, and have her family at her side in later years, just as Justice Ginsburg did. While we celebrate and honor the progress made in Justice Ginsburg’s life, we see in Breonna Taylor’s life the unfulfilled promises of justice, equality, and dignity for People of Color in the systems of our nation, and all the progress which we still must strive to make. 

In a national election, an individual act of voting may feel small, yet we wish to add our voice to the chorus of organizations who are likely exhorting you to not only make sure you vote next month, but that you make sure your vote counts. Voting is not only your sacred right, it is a way to honor the memory of The Notorious RBG by contributing to “real, enduring change” through the most basic form of political participation.

In this election season, Pollyanna has also partnered with the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) to survey independent school Heads, administrators, and teachers about their plans and hopes for the 2020 election to help ensure that their communities nurture open, respectful interaction among diverse groups. Our first report about our survey of school Heads was published on September 23 by NAIS. The report offers reflections about the 2016 election as well as suggestions to help educators foster civil discourse in their communities during the 2020 election season. We will publish two more reports in October regarding responses from and resources for administrators and teachers. Finally, we will publish a fourth and final report that compares responses among these three constituent groups. Our hope is to make a positive contribution and offer resources for how school communities think about managing challenging and divisive political conversations both before and after this election.

We hope your school year got off to a successful start whether virtual, in-person, or somewhere in-between.

All best,
Casper Caldarola

In the News

Join the Many Schools Implementing Our Curriculum
Is your school ready to take the next steps in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion? Email us today to get started info@pollyannainc.org
Brearley Kicks Off the Year with Us!
Pollyanna's Racial Literacy Curriculum will be used throughout Lower School and at various grade levels in Middle School. Pollyanna will also run a series of parent education workshops and training sessions over the school year aimed at anti-racist parenting and strategies for engaging children in conversations about race, racial identity, and systemic racism. We are proud to be moving forward in partnership.
Trevor Continues Our Work Together
A powerful start to a day of professional development centered on diversity, equity, and inclusion. A potent start to a school year committed to anti-racism. Our gratitude to @moni_vogelsang for your mentorship and teaching and to the team at @pollyanna_dei for your curriculum, rooted in truth.
Educator Forums Return
Thank you to everyone who joined us last Thursday for the kick-off of our fall Educator Forums! The discussion focused on two questions: How do we continue to be proactive about advancing our work in these challenging times? and; How do we leverage restorative practices to maintain our personal wellness? We asked attendees to offer one word for how they were feeling after the discussion. A few shared: “Hopeful,” “Inspired,” “Supported,” and “Stabilizing.” We couldn’t agree more with these sentiments.


New Schools Join the Pollyanna Family:  We're excited to welcome Avenues: The World School in NY, Brearley School in NY, Hunter College Elementary in NY, Kent Place in NJ, and Newman Elementary in MA.
October 3, 2020 K-8 Racial Literacy Curriculum Professional Development:  Join us for a 3-hour overview and in-depth discussion of Pollyanna's K-8 Racial Literacy Curriculum. Monique Vogelsang, lead creator of this curriculum, will guide you through a discussion about Pollyanna's Racial Literacy Curriculum, which is designed to help students gain knowledge about race as it has been constructed in the United States. Employing lessons in history, literacy, science, geography –– with STEAM extensions –– the curriculum supports students in acquiring an awareness of their own racial socialization and skills for engaging in productive conversations about race and racism.
By the end of the workshop, participants will better understand how systemic racism is the root of current inequities and uprisings, and how we can approach the topics of race and racism with an anti-racist, growth mindset –– striving to maintain and embrace a sense of unity and dignity while doing so. Click here to register for the PD.
How Can We Be of Help This Year? Email info@pollyannainc.org for more information.

2020-21 Zoom Forums: We enjoyed welcoming friends and colleagues, and meeting new friends at our Zoom forums this spring: Equity in the New Normal and Parenting During a Pandemic. The forums were created when Covid-19 and distance learning first presented many challenges. We expanded the discussions when George Floyd was murdered. Online discussion forums for parents and educators on DEI/current topics will resume in August -- monthly for educators and periodically for parents. Below is the schedule and the Zoom link for the first Educator Forum.

1. Educator Forums: Each one will take place at 5:15PM ET and will last one hour. Please mark down these dates: October 6, November 5, December 7, January 21, February 22, April 8, May 17 and June 22. Each month we will publish the Zoom link in this newsletter.
Educator Forum #2: October 6, 2020 05:15 PM Eastern Time 
Meeting ID: 924 8220 3345 and Passcode: Bally
2. Parent/Guardian Forums: Please make note of the dates and different times. Each forum will last one hour. November 11, 7PM; February 18, 11AM; April 13, 7PM; June 23, 11AM.
October 7, 2020: Harvard-Westlake in Los Angeles will host its 4th Pollyanna Conference. The topic this year is Courageous Conversations: Learning to Connect Authentically and with Compassion. Just in time for the election!
November 7, 2020: Far Brook in Short Hills will host its 5th Pollyanna Conference. Lift Every Voice: Centering the Student Experience in Building Anti-Racist Communities will be the focus of the day. The students have taught us so much this year, what a great way to honor them.
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.
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