Raising Culturally Competent Kids

Did you miss the workshop with Mindy Gulati last month? Don't worry!
Follow this link to view the recording:

Password: Q0ai&xKe

Please also see the associated Slide Deck here:

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Anti-Bias, Anti-Racism Education

Athena Montessori Academy is committed to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. When you join our community you are not only accepted for who you are, you are valued and celebrated for who you are. This commitment is to our community as a whole, from those who serve on our team to the families and children who make up our student body. As a learning organization, we lean into hard and often uncomfortable work in our commitment to be our best selves, which means we budget funds each year for professional development and parent education, including professional support and education in the DEI arena. Specific to our DEI work, we view early childhood education through an anti-bias lens.
As a school community committed to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work, Athena recognizes and adheres to the four goals of anti-bias education:

I) Identity- Each child will demonstrate self-awareness, confidence, family pride, and positive social identities. 

II) Diversity- Each child will express comfort and joy with human diversity; accurate language for human differences; and deep caring human connections.

III) Justice- Each child will increasingly recognize unfairness, have language to describe unfairness, and understand that unfairness hurts. 

IV) Activism- Each child will demonstrate empowerment and the skills to act, with others or alone, against prejudice and/or discriminatory actions. 
(These goals are defined by Louise Derman-Sparks & Julie Olsen-Edwards, leading educators, peace activists, and authors.)
In addition to our DEI professional development and parent education, we also have an in-house DEI focus group made up of faculty and members of our parent community. At Athena we understand that to change the world we must first change ourselves. The faculty and families of our community are stakeholders in this transformative work. The ultimate goal is not only a school, but a world in which all children can flourish and all families belong. 
Our ask is that if you choose to join our community, that you not only align with our values around this work, but also that you are willing to participate in the furtherance of this mission.
We are committed to using inclusive terms and gender-neutral pronouns when writing about our students in community messages or documents such as this website. If you find any limiting or exclusionary languaging in our communications, please let us know, and we will update accordingly. 

What Does DEI/ABAR Work Look Like at Athena?

This is a short read from the Washington Post linking to some of the research on misconceptions that some parents have that their children don’t notice race unless it is pointed out to them:  What White Parents Get Wrong About Raising Antiracist Kids - And How to Get it Right.

Here is a famous TED talk on being color brave, by Mellody Hobson, who is in an interracial marriage (married to George Lucas), and who has a daughter with her White husband. She understands first-hand what it is like to have Black and White family members. She is also the CEO of a Fortune 500 company: Color Blind vs. Color Brave.
These are two videos related to how we approach DEI topics with this age group:Part of the Sesame Street Town Hall from the summer of 2020 is Elmo and his dad Louie talking about racism and protests.  Another part of the Sesame Street Town Hall is this video for parents about how to talk to children about racism. 

Here is an organization, The Conscious Kid, that we support, utilize, and follow. They do great work for advocacy, education, and activism.

Overview of the American Montessori Society and JEDI Social Justice Missions

Athena Montessori Academy is a member of the American Montessori Society (AMS), and we are inspired and eager to share that our parent organization is taking a leadership role in furthering the mission of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in an effort to “create an environment in which all feel welcomed, respected, valued, and empowered” (AMS website). They are providing leadership, resources, workshops, and networking opportunities for the global Montessori community to further our own missions in this work.  

This work has always been in alignment with Dr. Maria Montessori’s vision for children and the world. She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times and her peace curriculum is at the heart of our work as Montessori schools. Two of my favorite quotes about peace from Dr. Maria Montessori:
Education is the best weapon for peace.and Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of the war.” --Dr. Maria Montessori 

In order to fully understand peace, we must first be willing to embrace social justice. And social justice comes with action steps. To this end, leadership members of AMS have created a core committee to take on this action, called JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion). Below is a summary of their work as introduced to us last weekend at the 2021 AMS Conference: The Montessori Event. Please take a moment to learn about the JEDI mission, vision, and objectives.  

AMS is committed to walking the walk, not just talking the talk, and at Athena, we are committed to the same. Stay tuned to our communications and opportunities for parent engagement to further understand how we work to implement these priorities into our curriculum at Athena. Please also visit the DEI/ABAR page of our website for more information about anti-bias education and Athena’s goals. 

If you are interested in the JEDI committee’s work, which reflects our own values and goals, and those of our parent organization, please read below:
Overview of JEDI:
The JEDI committee is comprised of:
Amira D Mogaji, President of the AMS Board of Directors
Bryan Jackson, AMS Senior Director of DEI
Karen Simon, MACTE Board President
Sara Bloomberg, AMS Board Director 
The paradox of education is precisely this--that as one begins to biome conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.” --James Baldwin 

What is JEDI?
Each of these is a call to ACTION.

The JEDI Mission:
The JEDI Committee brings our diverse Montessori community together to build a framework that recognizes, dismantles, and disrupts racism and bias. Anti-bias and anti-racist principles will guide the work of the committee.  

The JEDI Vision:
The JEDI Committee will inspire, inform, and engage our Montessori community in the work to build a future where all can thrive in environments that are anti-raist and anti-bias. This will be done through equitable, inclusive and collaborative work where communities that have been ignored, silenced, or marginalized are uplifted, amplified, and celebrated. 

The JEDI Objectives:
  • Embed ABAR into the fabric of AMS by creating and enacting a strategic plan for racial equity
  • Develop requirements and standards, and provide the expertise and resources for ongoing AMS employee, board, and commission professional development
  • Expand the development and engagement of affinity groups that serve underrepresented groups and foster safe spaces for these conversations
  • Host free DEI professional development events throughout the year
  • Provide support to member schools in building skills and knowledge about DEI
  • Commit to curricular change to uplift DEI teaching in all subjects and for all age levels
  • Communicate and implement requirements for school policies, professional development, and teacher education program standards that affirm and support the protection of underrepresented and marginalized identities
  • Keep all our children at the forefront of why this work is essential 

Athena Montessori Academy

“I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my son’s education. The loving guides at Athena taught him so much more than reading and writing– he’s learned how to take care of himself and those around him while navigating the social community of his classroom. I feel these life skills will serve him well as he graduates and enters first grade in the fall!”
- Rebecca O’Hara (Child now attending Eanes Elementary)