More than Words, Ep. 14

Do you see me?
Do you hear me?
Will you treat me fairly?
Will you protect me?

I have been thinking, reading, studying and engaging in dialogue with members of CFA’s Committee of Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) these past few months, especially focusing on the areas of Cross-Cultural Competence. Terry Cross describes Cross-Cultural Competence as “a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, institution or individual and enable that system, institution, or individual to work effectively in cross-cultural situations.”

One of my long-time mentors in the field of Diversity and Inclusion work, Rosetta Lee, shared these four questions during a workshop on building Cross-Cultural Competency in schools. I believe that every child deserves to learn in an environment where they feel they are seen, heard, treated fairly and are protected, not only by the adults in the school, but also by the systems, policies, and procedures that are in place. 

Rosetta then went on to describe what an environment looks like when it is not inclusive: people feel pressure to fit in, people fear speaking up, “who you know” is more important than “what you know”, you only trust those closest to you (cliques), denial of differences is considered a virtue (we don’t see differences here), and it’s hard for outsiders to learn the rules. 

In contrast, Rosetta shared what an inclusive school looks like: people can bring their full selves to school, the school encourages and welcomes people to contribute different opinions and points of view, there is a performance driven culture, people trust to form dynamic and diverse groups, differences are seen as additive and productive, success is explicitly defined and the school supports people in achieving it, and people have competencies to adapt to different cultural contexts. 

Currently, the Committee of Diversity and Inclusion is working in teams to create strategic goals for Cape Fear Academy. Creating a culture where students, faculty, parents, policies and procedures are inclusive is a long, difficult, but worthy journey.

Stephanie Medcalfe is the Lower School Director at Cape Fear Academy.
Stephanie and her husband moved to Wilmington from Indianapolis, Indiana where she was the Assistant Principal for Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School. Stephanie has taught in both elementary and middle schools and has been a Special Educator. She graduated from Ball State University with a B.S. in Elementary Education and an M.E. in Educational Administration. She is responsible for the Lower School Faculty and the After School Program.