Mirman and Westland join to present speaker on socio-economic status
In what is one of the first of hopefully many programming partnerships between the two neighboring independent schools, faculty/staff and parents/guardians from both Mirman and Westland came together on Mirman's campus to take in the presentation given by Park, owner of Blink Consulting.
Earlier in the afternoon, Park addressed the faculty/staff of both institutions, emphasizing a common language to talk about socio-economic status, class, and the role they play in the lives of students, families, and others on independent school campuses. Recognizing that there were natural tensions at play when it came to discussions of socio-economic status and class as well as, in particular, having these discussions in a space where entrance into the school comes at a financial cost, Park helped the group navigate around both personal questions and broader explorations of the topic.
An evening presentation (for those who were unable to make it or who would like to revisit, click here to download the slide deck) gathered parents and guardians from the neighboring schools to practice talking about socio-economic status and class, begin a discussion and offer framework for further discussion, and to generate questions. For parents and guardians who, like the faculty/staff earlier in the day, could admit that they all struggled with what was "ok to say" at times, the safe space constructed by Park to explore the work was clearly appreciated. Park also presented valuable data to demystify some of the classic issues around SES and class, and gave the crowd ample time to lead their own small group discussions rather than facilitating a passive lecture experience.
"This discussion is both timely and timeless," said Mirman's Head of School Dan Vorenberg in his introduction for the event. "At this time I think we all are thinking about how to have these conversations with our children so that they can continue to negotiate the increasing complexities around inclusivity and equity."
Apart from Park's presentation, the other significant event was simply the collaborative spirit and feeling of community resulting from the two neighboring schools partnering on the effort. "We're very fortunate to work with such a thoughtful and knowledgeable colleague," Vorenberg said of contemporary Melinda Tsapatsaris, head of Westland School.