By Kendall Early and Kelsey Smith
Read time 2 mins 20 seconds...

“Equality comes in realizing that we are all doing different jobs for a common purpose. That is the aim behind any community. The very name community means let’s come together to recognize the unity. Come… unity.” -Swami Satchidananda

Think of the name of another school in the Association of Colorado Independent Schools. Chances are that it is in the consortium of Colorado Diversity Network (CDN) schools with us. Previous to a couple of years ago, when we helped to form this group, we did not have much contact with those in other ACIS schools. Since the founding of the CDN, individuals from our many member schools come together a handful of times throughout the year in community and partnership. The mission states, “The Colorado Diversity Network is a group of independent schools working in collaboration to create a statewide network of faculty and staff trainings focused on issues of equity, inclusion, and diversity.”

Most recently, St. Anne’s hosted the first CDN happy hour of the year, where thirty folks from different schools came to connect. The purpose of these events is to have space and time with like-minded individuals passionate about DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) work and for the host school to share something that they’re working on. After our mingling time, we introduced the neurodiversity simulations that we would be doing thanks to Angela Moreira’s work. A few of us led stations that helped to simulate anything from dyslexia to giftedness to ADHD and more. As our colleagues from other schools worked their way through these stations, we were all able to reflect and empathize through these shared experiences. For some, they were windows into experiences they do not usually have in their lives, and for others, it was a validation and mirror to experiences in their daily lives. The conversation was rich, and the sharing ranged from profound to lighthearted and everywhere in between. We even discussed intersectionality and how all the parts of our various identities come together to make us who we are and how others perceive us to be. The learning, listening, and sharing filled our hearts and reinvigorated us to continue doing this work alongside our ACIS colleagues.

We always leave these opportunities feeling grateful for conversations that support our sustained efforts towards a statewide network of collaboration around topics of DEI, and that bring us closer as members of Colorado independent schools. Like Swami Satchidananda’s quote states, we may all be doing different jobs, but for the same purpose. In this group, we aim to learn and grow together to better ourselves and to make our schools more inclusive spaces. We know that we have community outside of our school walls and people with whom we can share ideas and gain insight.

We continue into this school year excited for more of these more informal spaces to connect and collaborate while also eager to participate in some of the more formal workshops that the CDN organizes. This year, the lineup is Teaching Tolerance’s Social Justice 101 workshop in the fall, a hiring fair in the winter, and a gender spectrum workshop in the spring. We are invigorated by all that we’re able to gain from and offer to the Colorado Diversity Network and in turn share with the St. Anne’s community. There is always more to learn and always more to do, so onward we go! Come unity!