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Meridian educates global citizens in an equitable, inclusive, and increasingly diverse community.

Global Citizens Framework: Connecting Minds and Hearts to Action

Meridian’s commitment to create an equitable and inclusive culture is both inspiring and engaging. It is present in all aspects of our school, from our institutional practices to our program and community. We strive to reflect this continuous and intentional work in our everyday practice. For this reason, we offer opportunities and experiences that challenge and promote growth in cultural competency for our entire school community. At the center of these efforts is each and every Meridian student. Our ultimate goal is to educate culturally competent, well-rounded, critically thinking students who are prepared to be responsible and active local and global citizens. We are continuously enriching our program to achieve this goal.

By understanding and valuing the existence of multiple perspectives, students develop critical thinking skills and empathy. Students also thoughtfully discuss natural and social issues and how they affect communities. Students develop a sense of responsibility as global citizens and are empowered to collaborate, plan, and take action to change conditions with everyday actions, whether big or small.

At the core of the program is the experiential process of learning that includes field trips, guest speakers, classroom workshops, community partnerships, and school assemblies that foster the development of global citizenship skills in our students. Classroom libraries are also part of our focus. We are intentionally reviewing educational resources Last summer, a team composed of kindergarten teacher Sean Carroll, to ensure that they reflect inclusion of multiple perspectives and global competence consultant Ramiza Saheed, and Director of Equity positive representation of different communities. Thanks to the support and Inclusion Yaneth Vrentas put together a Global Citizens Framework and generosity of our Meridian community, faculty members have been based on the desired outcomes and skills that we want to see in purchasing books that expand and enrich our classroom libraries. Meridian graduates. The framework integrates global competence with anti-bias education based on nationally recognized curriculum Developing cultural competence as a learning community requires frameworks and core standards. This year, with the leadership of active participation in education, along with the willingness to step Assistant Head Elizabeth Hodgson, faculty has been integrating, outside our comfort zones to ensure that students become truly revising, and taking a close look at the curriculum through the lens of engaged and responsible global citizens. Parents are encouraged to the Global Citizens Framework. follow up at home with meaningful conversations, to attend schoolsponsored or local educational series relating to equity and The framework includes four domains: inquire, investigate, innovate, inclusion topics, and to actively participate in the program. and impact, which we refer to as the four I’s. Each domain has a set of outcomes that faculty assess within their units. Students discover more “Globalization requires a new emphasis on global citizenship about themselves, others, and the world through inquiry and education. This means helping students understand and appreciate investigation. They learn about identity and culture and how we all human rights and shared global challenges thus becoming engaged contribute to diversity and enrich our communities. Students analyze citizens.” —Fernando M. Reimers, Empowering Students to and consider how our respective experiences and cultures influence our Improve the World in Sixty Lessons perspectives.

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” — Ghandi

“A person could want to be an agent of change because they see something they want to change or they want to fix something that they don't like or that is unfair in the world.” —Thomas Chang, Meridian second grader In February during our Global Citizens Symposium, students got badges, chose workshops, and engaged in presentations about leadership, culture, and topics of North America, our continent of study this year. Thanks to the participation of local leaders, parents, and faculty volunteers, our students had the opportunity to choose among an amazing variety of workshops. Our guests included Native American storyteller Roger Fernandes (our keynote speaker), author Lola Schaefer, Native American artist Nahaan, Afro-Cuban musician Arturo Rodriguez, Wing Luke Museum educator Kalei Onzuka, alumni activists from DC Bully Busters, artist Mike Gervais, and leadership educators from iLEAP. Parents and staff also offered workshops on leadership, female role models, science, and climate change, plus North American animals, plants, and cultural expressions like Mexican traditions, Native art, and storytelling.

Afro-Cuban drumming with Arturo Rodriguez

DC Bully Busters: Meridian alumni promoting anti-bullying in politics

Throughout the year, students had opportunities to participate in workshops and conversations on different topics about diversity, equity, and inclusion. Meridian offers these workshops to foster and develop students’ cultural competency skills. Here are some examples of students’ workshops for this past year. The Trouble with Sameness Rosetta Lee presented a workshop to fourth and fifth grade students called “The Trouble With Sameness.” As she described it, In some ways, sameness is great—we have the same hobbies, we go to the same school, etc. But in what ways does sameness get us into trouble? How does sameness lead to stereotypes, bullying, and other things we don't want to see in the world? Learn how appreciating differences and becoming allies to one another can make a difference.

Kalei Onzuka teaching the culture behind making a Hawaiian lei

Books, Theatre and Conversations In preparation for three plays by Book-It Repertory Theatre, students participated in workshops with the Director of Equity and Inclusion in collaboration with our library, music and Creativity Lab faculty. These plays were based on books on topics related to the experience of refugees in the USA, socioeconomic diversity, and contributions of African Americans. Inside Out and Back Again, by Thanhha Lai, is the story of a 10-year-old Vietnamese refugee in the USA. In preparation for the play, second through fifth grade students read the book itself, and kindergarten and first grade students read a picture book called The Lotus Seed, by Sherry Garland. Students reflected on the past and present experiences of refugees, what they have to leave behind, and the challenges and opportunities of their new life in another country. We encourage our adult community to watch “Human Flow,” directed by Ai Weiwei, which offers a heartbreaking exploration into the global refugee crisis. Ada’s Violin, by Susan Hood, is the story of the recycled orchestra of Paraguay, a real-life story of an orchestra made up of children playing instruments built from recycled trash. Students reflected on status, poverty, wants versus needs, leadership for social change, creativity, community support, music, perseverance, recycling, and teamwork.

In her presentation, Ms. Lee engaged students in thinking about gender stereotypes. In a developmentally appropriate manner, she moved on to explain how stereotypes result in prejudice, discrimination, oppression, and internalized oppression or dominance. Later, students reflected on how this system has impacted other identities such as race, ethnicity, religion, age, and physical and learning abilities.

Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions, by Chris Barton, is the story of an African American scientist and inventor. Our Creativity Lab teacher, Mary Allen, had conversations with all students about perseverance and resilience.

This year, while learning about different aspects of North America, students explored meaningful content related to migration, agents of change, climate change, civil rights, immigration, and Native American studies. Rather than focusing on a product, our main focus is on the learning process and experiences that students are exposed to throughout the year. During our Global Citizens Exchange, the Meridian community had the opportunity to learn from students about their grade-level areas of expertise. Here are some examples:

After learning about aspects of their own identities, family structures, and inspirational leaders, kindergarten students did a unit on migration of animals and people. They learned how different circumstances “pull in” or “push out” animals and people, forcing them to make decisions about moving from one place to another. This unit helped kindergartners to talk about stories of immigrants and refugees later on. In the beginning of the year, first grade students learned about rights, responsibilities, and what it means to be an actively engaged local and global citizen. They also learned about different community traditions and celebrations. For their North American studies, they studied Pacific Northwest indigenous cultures. They learned how indigenous cultures depended on the land for survival, including how they used natural resources for food, shelter, art, and technology. Second graders investigated how people and place are connected, and how individuals contribute to the many different communities that they are a part of. Students learned about aspects of Seattle, local communities, and homelessness. Later on they studied agents of change, including people from all backgrounds who have improved circumstances in different areas, such as science and social justice.

Assistant Head of School Elizabeth Hodgson and Director of Equity and Inclusion Yaneth Vrentas attended the Think Tank on Global Education at Harvard University in May 2018. The program was led by internationally recognized scholars in global education, and it attracted more than 100 educators and school administrators from around the world. This workshop offered an opportunity to compare our global education approach, process, and framework with other programs. We also gained information on best practices regarding implementation and connected with people who are doing this work all over the world. We are continuing to work with a team of faculty and administrators on the implementation of our Global Citizen Framework at The Meridian School. This year, some faculty members also attended the Teachers for Social Justice Conference, the Teaching Tolerance and Social Justice Standards workshop at the Holocaust Center, and the National Association of Independent Schools’ People of Color Conference.

Third grade students learned about cultures, systems, and values. Then they analyzed how people affect the environment and how global warming affects communities. They focused on the pollution of the Duwamish River and its impact on local communities. Finally, third graders looked for solutions and created prototypes to clean the river, prevent pollution, and inform the public. Fourth graders learned about Native American perspectives, Washington state history, and tribes of the Pacific Northwest. Late in the year, students engaged in conversations about civil and human rights. They studied the amendments to the Constitution and identified a variety of civil rights issues, including inequality for women and LGBTQ communities, segregation, and the Japanese internment.

Fifth graders learned about colonization, the history of the Lewis and Clark journey, and the impact on Native American communities. Then they researched their family heritage and studied immigrant stories from the past and present. Students toured the Immigrant Detention Center in the International District with educator Rahul Gupta of the Wing Luke Museum. Fifth graders also interviewed students at the Seattle World School (SWS). This visit offered an opportunity for both schools to connect and learn from each other. SWS students represent over 40 countries and over 30 different languages. Interpreters helped with the interviews. Students continued the relationships by exchanging weekly letters in a journal.

We offer opportunities for our Meridian families of color to get connected and engage in meaningful conversations. In the fall, we hosted a presentation on raising mixed-race children with author Sharon H. Chang. In the spring, nearly a hundred attendees gathered at the Daybreak Star Cultural Center for dinner and storytelling with Roger Fernandes.

During the winter, nationally recognized educator and diversity consultant Rosetta Lee offered workshops for our adult community on unconscious and implicit bias and ways to navigate microaggressions. These timely conversations offered awareness, understanding, and skills to intentionally recognize and redirect behaviors that may go against our own values. Ms. Lee explained that an implicit bias is a preference for or against a person or group of people that operates at the subconscious level. We are not aware that we have implicit biases. They are triggered automatically through a rapid association of people, groups, and objects with our attitudes and stereotypes about them. Implicit biases run contrary to our stated beliefs and attitudes, so we can say that we believe in equity (and truly believe it), but then behave in ways that are biased and discriminatory. Ms. Lee suggested being

intentional about taking different perspectives, increasing meaningful inter-group contacts, replacing stereotypes, and being strategic in our decision-making process.

Microaggressions are repeated verbal and behavioral slights, both intentional and unintentional, that convey insult and hostility toward a group or individual. Since microaggressions are based on stereotypes, they create an accumulated impact due to frequency.

Regardless of intention, the impact of microaggressions is real and should always be addressed. Ms. Lee emphasized the importance of learning how to identify microaggressions. She also gave language and tools to participants to respond when being the target, to stand up for others when being a witness, and to take ownership when being the agents of microaggressions. Ms. Lee debunked myths, encouraging participants’ honesty and selfawareness through recognition of past mistakes and receptiveness to feedback about their own microaggressions. She also emphasized patience and forgiveness of missteps in ourselves and others as we endeavor to use more sensitive, respectful language and behavior that’s inclusive for all. To learn more, search for Meridian School at

“We now have a vast body of research, conducted at some of our finest institutions of learning – Harvard, Yale, the University of Washington, the University of Virginia, MIT, Tufts, and the University of Illinois, among others – that is showing us the same thing: unconscious or hidden beliefs – attitudes and biases beyond our regular perceptions of ourselves and others – underlie a great deal of our patterns of behavior about diversity.” Exploring Unconscious Bias by Howard Ross, Founder and Chief Learning Officer, Cook Ross, Inc.

What Is Next? During our training, we reflected on how gender bias impacts the behaviors and perceptions of students. We also talked about how internalized gender bias impacts students’ perceptions of themselves and their roles in society.

Why are toys separated by boys and girls in toy stores? Why is blue for boys and pink for girls? Can I dress like a ninja if I am a girl? Can people just be themselves without being judged for their gender identity? In January, Dr. Jennifer Bryan from Team Finch Consultants spent a day meeting with grade-level bands and specialists, facilitating conversations to challenge our own gender bias, identify stereotypes, and promote gender equity.

Faculty members created and shared engaging lessons for students, empowering them to identify and challenge gender bias. For example, kindergarten students classified different items like toys, clothes, costumes, and professions into three categories boys, girls, and both boys and girls. Then, they had an engaging conversation about fairness, freedom to be yourself, and gender equity after reading the book Jacob’s New Dress, by Sarah and Ian Hoffman. After this conversation, students reclassified the items and concluded, as kindergartener Wesley Bishop said: “Girls and boys, both can do everything they want to.” Another example is a fourth grade lesson on how love and friendship can happen regardless of gender, religion, skin color, disability, and physical appearance, among other traits.

Equity and Inclusion Committees: Board Equity and Inclusion Committee: Erica Goldsmith, Vanashree Jhaveri, Taylor Kanemori, Meghan Kimpton, Rosetta Lee, Joanna Muench, Kurt Streeter, Yaneth Vrentas, and Kimberly Watson. Meridian Equity and Inclusion Team: Lianne Caster, Beth Fishman, Jaisri Gangadharan, Landon Gauthier, Erica Goldsmith, Laura Ishak, Vanashree Jhaveri, Lydia Laurant, Joanna Muench, Amee Patel Jamee Smith, Kurt Streeter, Yaneth Vrentas, and Jennifer Winick. THANK YOU!

The Meridian School adult community will engage in reading So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. In her book, Ijeoma Oluo “offers a clarifying discussion of the racial landscape in America, addressing head-on the issues that divide us.” Read with us and be ready to join the conversations.

EQUITY AND INCLUSION NEWSLETTER Yaneth Vrentas Director of Equity and Inclusion Editor: Rebecca Kettwig Pictures by Janet Klinger and Meridian Staff The Meridian School 4649 Sunnyside Avenue North, Suite 242, Seattle, Washington 98103

Meridian Equity and Inclusion Newsletter 2018  

Learn how The Meridian School, K-5, educates global citizens integrating global competency and education on equity and inclusion.

Meridian Equity and Inclusion Newsletter 2018  

Learn how The Meridian School, K-5, educates global citizens integrating global competency and education on equity and inclusion.