Students empowered at NAIS conferences

Students and faculty were inspired at SDLC and PoCC conferences. 
Cooper students and faculty came back to campus rejuvenated and inspired after attending NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools) conferences in San Antonio.  

Four Upper School students attended the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) while several faculty members attended the People of Color Conference (PoCC) this past November 30 through December 3.  

“We have been taking students to SDLC and faculty to PoCC for many years,” said Ashley Bryson, Upper School Diversity Coordinator and English teacher. She saw a new sense of empowerment in the four students that attended.  

“I think they were so encouraged to be in a space with all of these folks caring about the same issues,” she said. “They were also edified as leaders – they learned strategies to bring the work of inclusion and belonging back to our campusI think they walked away feeling like, ‘Okay, I’ve got this now.”  
 
Students were selected from the Student Diversity Council (SDC), including Carlos Calderon, a junior who has been a SDC board member for two years. He called the conference “an incredible experience.”  

“I was really honored to have been selected,” said Calderon. “The conference essentially taught us different ways to bring concepts of inclusion and equity back into our schools, and ways that we could help promote those topics.” 

He now has more discussions and tools to bring back to Diversity Dialogues, a sub-committee of SDC that Calderon is head of this year. “It’s open to all Upper School students and is a place for open, honest discussion on different topics, mostly related to identity.”   

Calderon has been working on making a difference at Cooper since Middle School, as a founding member of the of Inclusion Diversity and Equity Alliance (I.D.E.A.).

“I think that creating an inclusive environment for the school is a very direct change we can make, and I want to do anything I can to help.” 
 

This was the first live conference that the SDLC has had in two years, with around 7,800 attendees.   

Lower School Diversity Coordinator and English teacher Samir Muhith attended the PoCC conference for the eighth time.  

“It’s very invigorating to connect and see how many folks are in schools working toward ensuring that independent schools are the standard bearers in equity and education, and that policies and procedures are equitable in ensuring diversity and making sure generations coming up have opportunities they deserve, and to be the leaders in changing communities,” Muhith said.   
 
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The John Cooper School is an independent, non-sectarian, co-educational, college preparatory day school. Our mission is to provide a challenging education in a caring environment to a diverse group of select students, enabling them to become critical and creative thinkers, effective communicators, responsible citizens and leaders, and lifetime learners.

The John Cooper School seeks to attract qualified individuals of diverse backgrounds to its faculty, staff, and student body. The School does not discriminate against any individual in admissions, educational programs, personnel policies, general practices, or employment, on the basis of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, physical disability, or age.