The Chestnut Hill School’s theme for 2017-2018 school year is Sharing Our Stories. No wonder then, that in honor of Black History Month, CHS welcomed storyteller, Valerie Tutson, to a gathering of the CHS community.
Ms. Tutson has been telling stories in schools, churches, libraries, festivals and conferences for over 20 years. She received a degree in Theater Arts from Brown University, so her stories include song, props, and movement ‘so that the message is felt in one’s bones.’ Her presentation at CHS began with everyone singing “Ndza kondwa Moni” , which translated means “I see you. I respect you” and is the customary greeting in Chichewa, the native language of Malawians.
A story from Liberia, a country in West Africa, explained the meaning and value of a horse’s tail. Ms. Tutson then returned to the United States and a tiny town called Eatonville, Florida, where the young Zora Neale Hurston collected stories from her elders. These formed the basis for her first collection, Mules and Men.
The Family Association’s FOCUS committee, along with DEI Advocate Carlos Hoyt, organized this cultural event. FOCUS –Families of Color United for Success – works to provide circles of support within the CHS community by hosting potlucks and discussion groups, advocating for hiring and retaining a diverse faculty and staff, and providing materials and suggestions about curriculum so that every culture’s stories can be shared and sung.
There are many Black History month events throughout the Boston area including the Living In Colors/Celebrating Black Life at the Boston Children’s Museum as well as Picturing Frederick Douglass at the Museum of African American History
This week The Chestnut Hill School hosted the Parents Independent School Network (PIN) in a lively and informative discussion on the State of Diversity Education and Enrichment in our Schools. Dr. Carlos Hoyt, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advocate at CHS, invited participants to imagine shifting the discourse on diversity from identity politics silos to a comprehensive, inclusive, and collaborative understanding of social identity, social bias, and social justice.
The CHS DEI Curriculum Initiative was introduced as an example of efforts to create pedagogy that enables and empowers students to explore and embrace their whole “personhood”, while being aware of the ways in which personhood is assigned to social identity categories.
Dr. Hoyt highlighted the efforts of CHS teacher to infuse their teaching with material that provides mirrors for students of all backgrounds and windows into different ways of life. And he presented the seven strands of identity upon which the DEI Curriculum will focus:
Heritage, Physical Appearance, Ability, Gender and Sexual Orientation, Race, Socioeconomic Status, and Worldview.
The room buzzed with energy and excitement when Dr. Hoyt invited each table group to discuss the state of diversity education, and what parents hope their children are learning about this topic in this day and age.
Deb Bloomberg, a member of the CHS Support Team, summarized the meeting’s success. “Carlos highlighted the amazing work being done in our classrooms, and our ongoing commitment as a community to diversity, equity and justice. I felt really proud of CHS.”