In this article, we share some of the places GDS Faculty & Staff have been in the news and/or ways that have been engaged in good work beyond GDS.
Upcoming Professional Presentation
Fifth grade math and homeroom teacher Bryan Williams and High School math teacher Suzy Hamon-Bashir will carry the ongoing work of Let’s Get It Right! (LGIR) A Collaborative Approach to Ensuring that Females and Students of Color Thrive in Mathematics at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) People of Color Conference on November 29. LGIR draws committed math educators from multiple DC-area schools. They held their first 2021-22 school year meeting this week.
Former GDS Math Task Force colleague, who continues to participate in LGIR, Luisa Myavec said, “GDS provided a wonderful place for me to find my passion for equity in mathematics education. Continuing to connect with Bryan and Suzy around this important work has been an honor; they are experts in teaching and are dedicated to ensuring that our historically underrepresented students thrive in math. They work so hard to provide a space for teachers to tackle the many obstacles that schools face when striving to reach equitable approaches to math. I’m excited by their ongoing work with the GDS Math Task Force, and I am delighted to continue learning alongside them through LGIR.”
First grade teacher Unushe Walker was featured in late spring 2021 by the Ubuntu Life Foundation for her ongoing work to support curriculum development for their special needs center in Nairobi. Ubuntu Life is an organization committed to empowering women primarily through career development, healthcare, and education in Kenya. Unushe was especially touched by her 2019 visit to the center, and she’s stayed in contact with the project director. She’s helped broaden their curriculum and developed the materials to support learning. Because of her devotion of time and expertise, she was asked to participate in the feature.
Sharing his Truth
Watch 9th grade dean and history teacher Abraham Pachikara’s interview with Education Week, in which he discusses his experiences as a South Asian educator and administrator. We are grateful for the ways he speaks his truth here and elsewhere as our community continues to learn and grow. Beyond his teaching and administrative duties, Abe is also a faculty co-lead for both the student-led Asian American Affinity group at the High School as well as the South Asian student affinity group. Note: Abraham has added a couple corrections to the interview. While there are at least two South Asian-identifying faculty/staff members at the High School, there are at least seven employees school-wide who identify as South Asian. Also, rather than characterizing marginalization as a competition, Abe clarifies that as allies, we need to be attentive to those spaces and moments where our voices or actions have a greater impact.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Facilitator
In June 2021, DEI Office program associate Guyton Mathews began working with the Glasgow Group, developing curriculum for a revamped National Diversity Practitioners Institute (NDPI) experience. NDPI is a weeklong summer collaborative for all school diversity practitioners—that is, anyone committed to building and sustaining inclusive school communities, not solely diversity directors. Guyton explained that while it is so difficult to replicate the in-person community during a virtual conference, he found it impactful to hear the experiences and stories of fellow educators.
During this past year’s summer institute, facilitators focused on where love shows up in schools and how it’s made apparent. Guyton couldn’t help but draw upon his meaningful experiences at GDS over the 2020-21 school year. GDS’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team intentionally hosted a number of stellar practitioners and keynote speakers* for faculty in-service professional days who spoke explicitly to love within the everyday school community. As facilitator, Guyton shared some of the ways those conversations have continued at GDS with a particular lens on belonging. His facilitation work has taken him to other DC-area independent schools who are striving to grow in their equity and inclusion work as well as develop student affinity group leadership training.
Guyton has also been on the faculty with the Student Diversity Leadership Conference for more than 11 years after three years as a student participant.
Music in the Park
High School studio arts teacher Adrian Loving curated the inaugural fall concert series, Rock the Park DC, for the new and improved Franklin Park on Saturdays throughout the month of October. The free, family-friendly outdoor music series featured a diverse line-up of live music and DJ sets from local favorites to international headliners. The series covered a wide spectrum of genres including jazz, soul, R&B, reggae, hip-hop, electronic and soulful house music—not to mention a Sun Ra tribute set by GDS’s own jazz and creative music director Brad Linde, who has just released his 22nd collection, “Into Thin Air.” That release includes some original compositions as well as some collaborations with his favorite musicians on some great Ellington, Braxton, and Sun Ra pieces. Congratulations to Adrian and Brad on bringing more music to our community!