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Students and Faculty Take the LEAD in Diversity Conference

Tanya Graham, Sanford’s assistant director of admission, was among a group of faculty/staff from seven local schools who planned and implemented the first LEAD conference, which was hosted by Tower Hill School on November 9, 2018.
This inaugural event focused on Leaning into Equity, Awareness, and Diversity. Additionally, Graham managed Sanford’s participation and also teamed with Middle School instructor Max Schneider to co-plan and co-lead a workshop entitled “Who Gets to Laugh; Satire and Change,” which was designed to explain why comedy can be an effective way to discuss important issues.

All attendees gathered for keynote speaker Mykee Fowler, who portrayed a variety of different characters to spark discussion about race, gender, ability, and identity in general. Teachers then attended a workshop led by Sandra “Chap” Chapman about racial identity, while students attended 4 of the 5 following workshops:
The Privilege Toss—Brought the issue of privilege to light and demonstrated ways to minimize or at least address its effects
Multicultural Selves—Helped students look for similarities rather than differences among each other
Colin Kaepernick Workshop—Explained the meaning behind the peaceful, silent protest of Take a Knee
Who Gets to Laugh: Satire and Change—Explored how comedy is used for social commentary
What Would You Do?: Bike Thief Videos—Discussed stereotyping and how perceptions affect our actions.

All conference attendees met in December to share their reactions to the conference, to reflect on what they learned as LEAD participants, and to determine their next steps. Graham explained: “The goals of the conference were to give seventh and eighth graders a chance to think about and discuss issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We wanted them to be able to make connections to students at other schools who share similar interests. I believe the goals were achieved, and the students seemed to really enjoy themselves!”

Sanford is committed to fostering a culture of inclusion and has made it a key tenet in its strategic plan. By helping to to develop, implement, and participate in the LEAD Conference, Sanford demonstrated its willingness to find ways to elevate awareness and open dialogue that can help to turn words into meaningful, positive action.
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