Every Voice Matters.

Build inclusivity.

Capture the collective wisdom.

Take a leadership role.

Build community.

Host a conference.

MISSION

Pollyanna advances systemic change by developing stronger communities.

STRATEGY

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.

Jim Best, Dalton School

“Pollyanna is transformative. You’ll talk the talk, you’ll walk the walk, and you’ll see the world–and your work–in a new light.”

Erica Corbin, Chapin School

“It is an incredibly moving and inspiring experience to see students strategize with senior administrators, trustees, and their current or former teachers about ways to make a better school.”

Amy Ziebarth, Far Brook School

“This conference is my beacon of hope while we are going through a difficult time in our country.”

REFLECTIONS FROM CONFERENCES

PROGRAMS

The Independent School Conference, launched in 2011 at The Dalton School in New York City, is a daylong interactive program to train school leaders to broaden inclusion in and outside of the classroom. Schools in close geographic proximity come together for the day, wrestle with common problems and share the collective wisdom. Pollyanna has created a template for independent schools that will enable a school to replicate and customize the Conference in cities around the United States and around the world. The full-day Conference is hosted by one school in a geographic region, and aims to promote action and strengthen leadership by deepening the conversation, addressing challenges, sharing effective practices and generating positive steps. The goal is to improve inclusion within schools and the understanding that racial, socioeconomic, religious and sexual diversity enhances all elements of our schools. Each school attending the Conference sends a group of community members called a POD, which includes two members from each constituency: administrators, alumni, diversity coordinators, faculty, parents, students and trustees.

Pollyanna designed the Intra-Conference as an institutional capacity-building and excavating tool for schools wanting to deepen their knowledge, enhance practices and improve skills in the areas of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The very nature of the Intra-Conference, its emphasis on Pollyanna’s motto Every Voice Matters brings a school together and establishes and strengthens community connections. The conference informs the community and provides a platform for sharing personal experiences, expressing opinions and perspectives, and generating ideas and solutions for growth. This results in an enthusiasm and a strong desire for informed Aspirational Action by the school community.

As schools evolve beyond the Intra-Conference model, or if a school wants to investigate cultural and environmental perspectives on DEI topics, a Cross-Constituent Assessment is designed and implemented and consists of online surveys, focus groups and a comprehensive summary of both qualitative and quantitative data to provide infrastructure for on-going initiatives.

Aspirational Action is successful when it is owned and led by school community members. Pollyanna’s goal is to ensure that positive and sustainable capacity-building approaches to the work of inclusive practice becomes institutionalized within a school so that year-to-year as demographics evolve and the community widens, approaches continue to be relevant, inviting and engaging. Aspirational Action ideally picks up shortly after the Intra-Conference. Pollyanna helps structure retreats for small and large groups, co-designs DEI projects with metrics and starts down the path of creating goals for the school year where they can be held accountable, and in-process data and results will be collected and shared with the community to highlight how the needle is moving on respective initiatives. Regardless of how a school decides to approach Aspirational Action, Pollyanna serves as facilitators the entire way.

WHY HOST?

Act on your school’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and make visible the priority by hosting a community-building conference for schools in your region.

Deepening the conversation with your neighboring schools, share knowledge and strengthen the community in order to create a more equitable school.

TOPICS

Creating a Generation of Inclusive Leaders
School Transitions: The K-8 Experience
Shaping & Sustaining Safe Schools for LGBTQ Community
Socioeconomics
Race • Privilege • Community Building
Intersectionality
Cultivating Racial Awareness and White Engagement
Raising Empathy & Taking Action
Implicit Bias

NEWS

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St. Andrew’s welcomed its community to the first intra-conference. Building Community Through Inquiry: Culturally Responsive Teaching, Culturally Caring Community tackled building a more inclusive multicultural school community and involved conversations with administrators, alumni, faculty, parents and students. Dr. Ali Michael opened and closed the day with personal reflections and concrete steps. Director of Diversity Kendall Evans and his team along with Pollyanna Project Managers Kathy Chan and Claire Hannan-Radomisli planned a meaningful and productive day.

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Joining over 7,000 people for an amazing few days in Seattle. Pollyanna was a sponsor, exhibitor and presenter at this year’s NAIS People of Color Conference. Titled 1619. 2019. Before. Beyond. Amplifying Our Intelligence to Liberate, Co-create, and Thrive, the mission of this conference is to provide a safe space for school leadership, as well as professional development and networking for people of color and allies of all backgrounds in independent schools.

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This was our first year presenting at NAIS PoCC and Monique Vogelsang, lead curriculum creator, spoke before a full house of attendees! Our workshop, Self-Knowledge is Power! A New Racial Literacy Toolkit for K-8 Faculty, was an overview of our curriculum. We are working with schools across the country offering PD sessions that run from 2 hours to 2+ days.

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Harvard-Westlake’s third conference focused on examining current structures, biases, and privileges at schools around gender and sexual orientation as it pertains to students as well as how schools might adapt their policies to be more inclusive. Rodney Glasgow opened the conference, spoke from the heart and set the tone to create change.

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The conversations that took place at Far Brook’s 4th Pollyanna Conference considered the extent to which there is a need to adapt policies, programs and curricula to create environments that provide access and representation, and ones that value students from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Anthony Jack talked about the challenges he faced in independent schools.

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As our first school in Canada, St. Clement’s tackled building a more inclusive community. Schools were excited to have this space to have these much-needed conversations. Keynote Ahahid Dashtgard discussed the importance of keeping true to oneself and one’s heritage when entering a new community.

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Having sent several administrators and faculty members to a Pollyanna Professional Development session in NY, Roland Park asked Lead Curriculum Creator Monique Vogelsang to come to Baltimore so the entire faculty could benefit from the presentation. 

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Casper Caldarola sat down to chat with Gina Parker Collins, Founder of RIISE – Resources In Independent School Education – to discuss racial literacy and Pollyanna’s K-8 Curriculum. Click here to watch

Bodie Brizendine, Spence School

“Thank you for providing such an opportunity for all of our schools, not only to work among the many fine schools represented but also within our own walls.”

Stephen Warner, Allen-Stevenson

“The seeds for many of our diversity initiatives have been planted at this conference.”

Sandra Chapman, LREI

“We enjoyed sharing resources, strategies, ideas and challenging moments we have overcome.”