Diversity Ambassadors lead student roundtables

Diversity Ambassadors lead student roundtables
Posted on 02/17/2022
Diversity Ambassadors lead student roundtables

Mid-January, sixteen Diversity Ambassadors visited social studies classrooms in grades 9-12 to hold in-class, roundtable dialogues. The Diversity Ambassadors planned and engaged in conversations with their peers as a way to learn what work needs to be done in the district and to encourage others to become involved. After introductions, students discussed identity, experiencing cultural differences in school, racial awareness, implicit bias and the importance of coming together to have respectful conversations about controversial topics. 

Following the success of the conversations at the high school level, Diversity Ambassadors planned discussions for MLA classrooms in February. Teachers were asked to remain inside the classroom as a presence, but to remain outside of the circle to allow for student-only dialogue.

Prior to the classroom dialogues, the Diversity Ambassadors participated in an all-day training workshop to learn dialogue skills and practice co-moderating difficult conversations, led by Co-advisor Dr. Jenna Rossi (Chair of American Studies and African American Studies at St. John Fisher College) and her colleague Dr. Jebaroja Singh (Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology, Anthropology, Women & Gender Studies at St. John Fisher College).

“Engaging in conversations to raise awareness about racism and privilege, as well as sharing personal experiences with these topics is courageous and meaningful work,” says Co-advisor Jenna Rossi. “I am honored to be working with the Diversity Ambassadors at East Rochester.”

Diversity Ambassadors will attend a faculty meeting to share their experiences at both the high school and MLA, with the goal of using these discussions to help in the decision making process moving forward.

“It has been the greatest honor of my educational career to be able to advise this group of students with the positive changes being made within the district and community,” says ER High School Principal and Diversity Ambassadors Co-advisor Casey van Harssel. “They are helping me learn what it truly means to lead a learning environment for all students”