Atrium Teachers Attend People of Color Conference
Four Atrium teachers–Veena Hari, Mia Bullock, Jaleesa Anselm, and Sydney Holloman-Pressley–recently attended the NAIS People of Color Conference (PoCC) in Anaheim, CA. They joined nearly 6,000 other educators and students to explore the theme Voices for Equity and Justice Now and in Every Generation: Lead, Learn, Rededicate, and Deliver.
In its 30th year, the People of Color Conference demonstrates independent schools' commitment to equity and justice in teaching and learning. The mission of the conference is to provide a safe space for leadership and professional development and networking for people of color and allies of all backgrounds in independent schools. PoCC equips educators at every level, from teachers to trustees, with knowledge, skills, and experiences to improve and enhance the interracial, interethnic, and intercultural climate in their schools, as well as the attending academic, social-emotional, and workplace performance outcomes for students and adults alike.
Kindergarten teacher Jaleesa attended the Conference for the third year, saying, "My first year at PoCC was the first time in my life where the number of black people outnumbered everybody else. It was an amazing, transformative experience and I was overcome by emotions."
Jaleesa believes that PoCC is essential because "teachers of color who operate in a white space get to be in a place where they don't have to think about or explain their experience. It's important for teachers to realize how to be allies to kids who come with unique experiences. When the issue of race comes up in classrooms, we need to know how to deal with it."
In addition to providing a safe and supportive environment for teachers of color to find affinity groups, it also allows them an important networking opportunity to connect with other educators, both in solidarity and for professional development. For example, Atrium's Blindspot book group was inspired by a PoCC session Jaleesa attended.
The People of Color Conference also benefits white teachers teaching students of color. "PoCC teaches you how to make a bridge to kids who are not like you, who are one of few. It teaches you to be a true ally and offer support; you will never understand students of color's struggles and you never will, but you can offer true allyship," Jaleesa said.