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Bobcat Stories

Creating Inclusive and Empowering Learning Environments Through Student-Centered Equity, Community, and Culture

By Julia Kingsdale — Equity, Community, and Culture Educator


As Bosque School’s Equity, Community, and Culture Educator and Student Coordinator, I am extremely grateful to get to teach what I love as part of a community of people who are so deeply committed to one another. By building ECC classes into students’ schedules, Bosque School has taken a unique and highly innovative approach to foster equity and inclusion in the 6-12 classroom. While independent schools are increasingly investing in diversity, equity, and inclusion policies and programming, direct instruction for students on topics of equity and social justice is typically offered in response to incidents of bias and in one-off bits and pieces—an assembly here, a workshop there. By creating the role of ECC Educator and significantly expanding the WILLDS (wellness, identity, leadership, life skills, diversity, and service) curriculum across grades 6-12, Bosque School is responding to its students’ call for more proactive, in-depth education around issues of identity, equity, and social justice. This education will undoubtedly serve our students as they grapple with today’s most pressing social issues—issues they are often watching unfold in real time—and as they develop into the next generation of leaders. 


This year the ECC curriculum has been focused on laying the groundwork for all students in Grades 6-12. In the middle school, this has involved learning about and practicing skills for maintaining community across our differences. Middle school lesson topics have included developing norms for healthy dialogue, identifying and responding to identity-based harm, and understanding the role of implicit bias in our own and others’ thinking. In the upper school, much of the curriculum has revolved around exploring students’ own identities and how these identities influence the ways we move about our world. Students in the 9th, 10th, and 11th grades have examined gender, race, ability, and other social identities, as well as the roles these identities play in U.S. society and in their own lives. In the 10th and 11th grades, students have also practiced facilitating thoughtful dialogue on these topics with their peers. 


We were excited to roll out special ECC programming to two grades of students this year—one in the middle school and one in the upper school. In the 12th grade, students attended college-style seminars featuring guest speakers on topics of social justice. Tonya Covington, a local racial justice activist and educator, spoke with the students about Black history in New Mexico, teaching the students about people and events that rarely find their way into New Mexico’s history curriculum. Anthony “AnTro” Shemayme, an Indigenous hip-hop artist, educator, and activist, spoke with students about Indigenous resistance and non-Indigenous allyship. 


In the 7th grade, students conducted their own original research projects in preparation for the 9th annual Me/We Conference—a conference created specifically for the 7th-grade class that focuses on topics of identity, diversity, and social justice. In small groups, the 7th-grade students chose identity-based research questions that were important to them and then analyzed survey data to help answer those questions. Many students chose to analyze data from the Bosque School community, designing surveys that were then completed anonymously by their teachers and peers. Research topics from this year’s 7th graders include gender-based differences in experiences on social media, how supported students feel at Bosque School based on their race and ethnicity, teachers’ experiences of discrimination based on wealth, and the U.S. gender pay gap, among many others. Students will present their findings to their teachers and peers at the conference, which takes place in April.


In addition to their ECC classes, this year, students have had many opportunities to engage with ECC programming outside the classroom as well. Additional ECC programming this year has included Morning Meeting presentations about important people and cultural events, eight different ECC-related student groups that span the middle and upper school divisions, and our community screening and discussion of The Mask You Live In, a documentary film about messages and social norms around masculinity in the U.S. 


We have been excited to offer students many different ways to engage with these topics and are eager to continue expanding these opportunities in the year ahead.