This year, six Awty students and two teachers participated in the 30th National Association of Independent Schools People of Color Conference and the Student Diversity Leadership Conference in Anaheim, California from November 29 to December 1. The People of Color Conference (POCC) and the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) is the flagship of the National Association of Independent Schools' commitment to equity and justice in teaching and learning. This is a conference that is designed for administrators, teachers, and students of all backgrounds. The conference includes general sessions with keynotes, dozens of practitioner-led workshops, extensive affinity group work, and dialogue sessions. There are academic, social-emotional, and workplace performance outcomes for students and adults alike.
SDLC is a multicultural gathering of upper school student leaders (grades 9-12) from across the U.S. SDLC focuses on self-reflecting, forming allies, and building community. Led by a diverse team of trained adult and peer facilitators, participants develop effective cross-cultural communication skills, gain a better understanding of the nature and development of effective strategies for social justice, practice expression through the arts, and learn networking principles and strategies. In addition to large group sessions, SDLC "family groups" and "home groups" allow for dialogue and sharing in smaller units. Attendance is limited to 1,600 students, with a maximum of six students per school.
The Awty students who attended this years’s conference included Ziana Ukani (9th grade), Alejandro Vega (10), Angela Chen (10), Nicolas Feder (11), Blessing Utomi (12), and Mariana Quezada (12). They were accompanied by faculty members Mrs. Rosado (English Dept.) and Ms. Schumacher (History/Economics Dept.). The keynote speaker at the conference was Ta Nahisi Coates who is the author of the No. 1 New York Times bestseller Between the World and Me, the winner of the National Book Award. A national correspondent for The Atlantic, Mr. Coates won the National Magazine Award and is also a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship known as the genius grant. There were a number of top speakers at this conference. Students and teachers alike thought that the conference was both empowering, very meaningful on many different levels, and truly essential work.
Before returning to Houston, students had a wonderful opportunity to tour the Claremont Colleges with a special tour led by the Vice President of the Latinx Club at Pomona College. Next year the NAIS POCC and SDLC will be held in Nashville, Tennessee from November 29 to December 1. Early registration is a must for this unique experience.