As part of our ongoing, strategic work towards making Brookwood a diverse, equitable, and inclusive institution, we are excited to share updates of two different affinity groups at Brookwood that started meeting the first week of February. The groups meet every other week for 30 minutes during the school day to ensure that all students interested may attend. Our faculty facilitators are doing an amazing job and share that the most consistent feedback from students that choose to attend the groups is that they would like to meet more regularly!
We are excited to provide this opportunity for our students based on their feedback during both the listening sessions with consultant Erica Pernell and through the Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism administered in the spring of 2021.
Here are some highlights of the how we are supporting students in the groups so far:
Student of Color Affinity Group:
Facilitated by Khadijah Ali-Campbell, Mayumi Morash, and Coleen Ilano
This is a group for individuals that identify as Black, Brown, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) and Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPI)
As the students met for the first time, the facilitators modeled from the short film "RACE to be Human" by Indieflix Education by asking the question "How do you identify?" Using this discussion, over the course of the next few meetings the students brainstormed words and phrases they wanted as part of their group’s mission statements and came up with their mission statements below:
“We are the Lower School “SOCKs” (Students of Color - Kids) Affinity Group, grades 2-4, and our mission is to create a safe space for students of color where we can: feel protected, support others, say the truth respectfully, and have fun.”
“We are the Upper School “SOCKz” (Students of Color - Kidz) Affinity Group, grades 5-8, our mission is to create a safe space for Students of Color where we feel protected. You may ask what that space looks like, it's a non judgemental environment where we are learning to gain confidence in our racial identity so that we can combat racial injustices in school and our communities in the most respectful way possible. This amazing group of students make up a rainbow coalition of different cultures and minorities.”
In addition to working on their mission statements, students have also participated in fun activities as they get to know each other and the facilitators such as “Minute to Win It.”
Joint School Affinity Group:
Our Upper School BIPOC and AAPI students have had the marvelous opportunity to participate in AISNE's (Association of Independent Schools of New England) Joint Racial Affinity Groups. The sessions have met monthly via Zoom for the school year and we have had two marvelous in person evenings at the Rivers School; one in November and the other at the beginning of April. In these groups, AISNE 5th -8th grade BIPOC/AAPI students had the opportunity to meet, have fun, and reflect on identity as groups who attend predominantly white institutions. Their evening sessions were facilitated by BIPOC/AAPI faculty from all of the attending schools. The experience of being in community and making friends from other area schools has been such a powerful experience for our students. To join other schools and be together, coupled with our own Brookwood Affinity groups on our campus, has been empowering and affirming for our students.
LGBTQ+ Affinity Group
Facilitated by Suzy Light, Wendy Panchy, and Kathy Stewart.
For grades 2-4, this group is for any student who is transgender/non-binary or is part of an LGBTQ+ family, and as well as allies (A person who does not identify as LGBTQ+, but expresses solidarity with and advocates for LGBTQ+ people).
For grades 5-8, this group is for any student who identifies as part of the LGBTQ+ community, is part of a LGBTQ+ family, as well as allies.
With the launch of affinity groups this year, the primary goal was to create safe spaces that were also student-led. From our first meeting, students have discussed, What should we accomplish? What do you want this group to be? What should our affinity group's name be? What guidelines do we need to create a safe space? Students have agreed to listen, question, experience feelings fully and share as little or as much as they'd like.
In both groups, students feel empowered as allies and expressed that they'd like to write to both local and national leaders. They would also like to create art as a vehicle to express themselves and educate others. Around Valentine's Day, we created a bulletin board display defining 'What is Love?' Students shared, Love is support. Love is being yourself. Love is friends and family (and pets). Love is being kind.
In the Upper School, grades 5-8, LGBTQ+ affinity space (named by students 'The Rainbow Connection'), we've discussed current events as well as brainstormed ways they could enhance the Community Life curriculum or share through community announcements in advisory and School Meeting.
Our Lower school affinity group, grades 2-4, has explored Identity Circles and they also want to write to Mr. Bartlett about creating more permanent signage for the designated non-gendered bathrooms in the 4th and 5th grade hallway.
Please reach out to the Affinity Group facilitators with any questions: