Black History Month and Beyond
SF Day School

 

To be culturally effective doesn’t mean you are an authority in the values and beliefs of every culture. What it means is that you hold a deep respect for cultural differences and are eager to learn, and willing to accept, that there are many ways of viewing the world.—Dr. Okokon O. Udo

This quote from our DEI statement summarizes how we approach DEI work at SF Day. We want community members to be respectful of and excited to learn about other cultures.

In addition to our DEI statement, we have three tenets based on our Universal Design for Learning (UDL)/Equity work that guide us in our aspirations to make sure all members of our community feel that they belong.

  1. Anti-bias is the norm.
  2. Accept intent and acknowledge impact.
  3. Communities are only as equitable as the most marginalized members feel.
A visual infographic detailing how Universal Design for Learning applies to equitable education.

 

Our new mission statement further demonstrates our commitment to DEI:

At SF Day, we ignite curiosity. We cultivate a diverse, nurturing community that encourages learners to expand their perspectives and become their true selves. Students develop as compassionate, creative problem-solvers, prepared to thrive in an ever-changing world.

SF Day Highlights

Community Rallies Around First-Annual Black Lives Matter March

 

On Tuesday, February 15, the 2nd Grade class and students from Orcas, our Black /African-American Affinity group led by Dr. Ruth Bissell, Upper School Head, hosted a Black Lives Matter march around the SF Day School neighborhood. Beginning at the Masonic Avenue gate, the march included Orcas in the lead, along with our Rainbow Alliance Affinity group facilitators and members who highlighted the importance of intersectionality, teachers, and staff school-wide. During the march, community members

shared their support with banners, flags, and signs displayed in windows around campus, and 2nd Grade families gathered along the march route to cheer on students. The march concluded on Golden Gate Avenue with singing, "We Shall Overcome," a song students have been learning in Music class. Mr. Ayden Bradley, Lower School Music teacher, taught Orca Affinity Group members and second grade students chants that corresponded with the march. These included, “Black Lives matter,” and “Celebrate Black joy.”

A group of students hold signs at a Black Lives Matter march on campus.

Black Lives Matter march on February 15, 2022.

The inaugural Black Lives Matter march at SF Day was an important space for students to learn about social change, to feel validated in their allyship and for our Black/African American community members — a sense of belonging and feeling respected and appreciated. It put our school values into action, and to be an intentional community with one another during Black History Month.

 

Exploring Black Artists

Kindergarteners have been spending time learning about Black artists. As part of a collage study, our young artists took inspiration from Alma Thomas, a long-time art teacher and the first African American woman to have a solo exhibition at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art.

Using strips of paper, kindergarteners emulated Thomas’s colorful mosaic painting style, arranging small pieces to create their own mosaic collages.

A bulletin board created by Kindergarten students portraying art style by Alma Thomas.

Kindergarten collage study.

 

Post Office Project Celebrates African American Heritage

1st Graders have been busy launching and operating their school-wide post office, a beloved project designed to explore communities and systems. An annual school tradition, the post office is back in-person after being facilitated online last year.

Community members have been sending one another letters since the post office opened in late January, giving real-world context to 1st Graders who are learning how to write friendly and persuasive letters. In the stairwell near the 1st Grade classrooms and post office stand, there is a display featuring African Americans that have appeared on postage stamp designs. The display is a new addition to the post office project, drawing an important connection between the U.S. postal system and celebrating African American heritage.

A display in a hall stairwell celebrating African Americans on postage stamps.

Stairwell display celebrating African American heritage.

 

Black Lives Matter at School: Week of Action

On Friday, January 28, Dr. Bissell, Head of the Upper School, Katherine Moyé, 1st Grade Lead Teacher, and Betsy Brody, Co-Diversity Director, introduced plans for Black Lives Matter at School: a Week of Action.

The Black Lives Matter at School movement from Rethinking Schools:

Black Lives Matter at School is a national coalition of educators organizing for racial justice in education. Each year, during the week of action, thousands of educators across the country participate to affirm the lives of Black students. Educators teach lessons about structural racism, Black history, and anti-racist movements during the week of action and beyond.”

 

Taking place from January 31 through February 4, the week included daily themes in a week of action calendar designed to activate everyone in the SF Day community. Ideas for the ways students could participate and show their support were created by members of the African American affinity group, Orcas, comprising a range of 4-8th Grade students.

At the February 4 Upper School Assembly, information on health and wellness in the Black community and the history of Henrietta Lacks and her genetic contributions to medical research were highlighted. The meaningful week of action followed and incorporated the 13 Guiding Principles from BLM.

 

What ‘Phins Are Reading

Across SF Day, students have been eagerly diving into a variety of books with themes focused on anti-racism, community values, and civil rights. Books covered in class have been a springboard for meaningful activities and dialogues, and our library has featured a curated selection of books for additional reading.

Four students stand in front of a bulletin board activity.

7th Graders focused on the concept of "othering" and inclusion by brainstorming real-world examples and arranging them along a spectrum. Together, students developed concrete ways they can build community and truly "see" one another.​​​​​

 

Lower and Upper School students have been reading a variety of texts. 6th Graders have been talking about the graphic novel trilogy series “March” by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin to learn about the American Civil Rights movement. In January, 4th Graders learned about the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and engaged with a read-aloud of Richard Michelson's book, "As Good as Anybody." 8th Graders have been reading Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi’s “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You,” and 7th Graders have been reading American autobiography “Black Boy” by Richard Wright and Jerry W. Ward Jr.

 

DIY: Student-made Black Lives Matter Banner

 

In a recent elective class, Ms. Lauren Combs and Ms. Kirsten Maxwell collaboratively led students in crafting a DIY banner celebrating Black Lives Matter.

To support the BLM movement, Black students and allies collaborated and created a patchwork

tapestry bearing the phrase “Black Lives Matter” to be carried at our school march this past February 15. Each student selected their favorite fabric scrap, which was carefully measured and sewn to their table partners’ pieces, representing individual identity and community connection. For many students, this was their first time sewing, and it was a meaningful bonding experience rooted in our community’s values.

A tapestry bearing the words "Black Lives Matter" in a school stairwell.

Student-made tapestry. 

 

The DIY students are proud of their final product (pictured to the right), which can be viewed in the first floor stairwell of our new Arts and Innovation building.