MPA Upper School students Alex Appleton, Abdur-Rahman Lodhi, Alex Appleton, Andrea Pugh, and Ema Santibañez represented MPA at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC). The students attended this transformative gathering in San Antonio, Texas in December. Some members of MPA’s faculty and staff also accompanied the students and participated in intentional professional development concerning diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Regina Santiago, MPA’s kindergarten teacher, shared that “It was amazingly validating and healing to be in a space with so many other folks who understand the unique experience of being an educator of color in predominantly white institutions. It meant a lot to feel support and solidarity for my whole, authentic self. It was also great to spend more time with colleagues and students in other departments and divisions at MPA that I don’t get to spend enough time with because we’re all so busy!”

The workshops and modules that were available for faculty and staff ranged from resources for employees groups of color to general education on the nuances of being an employee in independent schools. Bakari Jackson, MPA’s communications coordinator, attended the event and recounts, “Although I’m not faculty, there were so many relevant workshops for me to learn from. I gained a considerable amount of beneficial tools and insights that are serving me today in my work here. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity. The time I spent and experiences I shared with my coworkers of color provided me with an invaluable sense of community that came back with me to MPA.”

While MPA employees attended their sessions, the students took part in the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC). NAIS describes the program as “a multiracial, multicultural gathering of Upper School student leaders from across the U.S. and abroad. SDLC focuses on self-reflecting, forming allies, and building community. Led by a diverse team of trained adult and peer facilitators, participating students develop cross-cultural communication skills, design effective strategies for social justice practice through dialogue and the arts, and learn the foundations of allyship and networking principles.”

MPA is proud of the students’ passion for leadership and their dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We continue to look forward to hearing about these students’ experiences and instituting the practices that they learn into our community.

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