People of Color Conference Enriches Both Students and Faculty
Close to 6,000 adults and students attended the People of Color Conference this year in Anaheim, Calif. This is a yearly conference organized by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), which focuses on diversity and people of color in the independent school setting. Cushing had five faculty members and six students in attendance.
The application process took place in the spring of 2017 and this year 21 students applied for those six spots. Applicants were asked to reflect on what they hoped to gain from the experience, as well as how they could use their newfound knowledge to make a difference at Cushing.
In addition to attending numerous workshops, the students took part in the Student Diversity Leadership Conference all day Thursday, Nov. 30 and Friday, Dec. 1. The conference was an involved and engaging affair; Academic Support teacher Ms. Devin dropped the students off at 8:00 am and picked them up as late as 10:00 and 11:00 pm. Each Penguin was placed with a different group made up of students from around the country where they participated in numerous activities and learning opportunities centered around areas of identity and social justice.
Concurrently, our attending faculty members participated in a separate series of workshops and listened to a number of illuminating keynote speakers. Our own French teacher Mr. Mbengue and Associate Dean of Academics Mrs. Gillentine facilitated groups during this conference.
This was the largest Cushing faculty group to have attended the People of Color Conference and, as we have in years past, Cushing brought the maximum number of students that the conference allows. Ms. Devin believes that our school’s continued commitment to diversity and inclusion has a significant and wide-reaching impact, “The work that we do every single day with all of our students benefits from the work we do there. It will only make our community stronger.”
In fact, engagement with this event continues for our alumni long after they have graduated; Jemmel Billingslea ’10 and Sintayehu Taye ’08, who both attended the conference during their Cushing careers, brought students from their respective independent schools at this year’s conference. Myles Bonadie ’17, who now attends college in California, also met up with the current Cushing group after the conference concluded on Saturday, Dec. 2.
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Cushing Academy exists for students and develops curious, creative, and confident learners and leaders. Founded in 1865, Cushing is a co-ed, college preparatory boarding and day school for students in grades 9-12 and PG. Our students, who come from over 30 states and 30 countries, excel in our outstanding academic, art, and athletic offerings. We welcome you to visit our community and beautiful 162-acre campus in Ashburnham, Mass., just one hour from Boston, to experience all that Cushing has to offer.