In the Classroom and Beyond

Topics of diversity, inclusion, and equity are daily lessons woven into our curriculum in each division. Teachers use inclusive language and create diverse libraries of literary selections to reflect and validate the experiences of every student and family. 

Each year, faculty thoughtfully assess and reframe projects through the lens of equity and inclusion. Field trips, special visitors, and Chapel presentations support this mission.

When discussing issues of race, identity and social justice, it is easy to intellectualize these matters. SEED puts faces and experiences to theories and concepts, making them much more concrete. I have learned so much from my experiences in SEED, and I am grateful to be at a school that cares about it as much as I do.” Faculty SEED Participant

Curriculum Highlights

Early Childhood

Early Childhood teachers focus on helping students to acquire and practice language skills as they grow to understand themselves, their classmates, their community, and their ever-expanding world. Through established curriculum, art projects, and work in our play-based classrooms, teachers help students to navigate topics and situations in an age-appropriate way.

Using inclusive language allows students to recognize and validate the many different households and experiences of our families. For example, teachers use the phrase “grown-ups” instead of “parents” so that children recognize the variety of family structures present in our community and in the world. Mindful of the different socioeconomic backgrounds of our families, teachers might ask children what books they read over winter break, rather than asking where they went on vacation.

Our Book of the Month selection introduces a new book to students in Junior Kindergarten through grade 3, highlighting a topic related to equity and inclusivity, but presented in an age-appropriate manner. 

The following are examples of how the early childhood program supports topics of diversity, inclusion, and equity:

  • Beginners learn about themselves and others through play and gradually through guided conversations. Students learn to depend on one another through turn-taking projects like cooking.
     
  • Nursery begins the year with an examination of the self, which later extends to learning about the self as part of a group. The final project of the year is an extensive study of each child's family and the many different forms that a family can take. Teachers model how to engage in conversations that respect individual preferences, explore differences, and demonstrate kindness.
     
  • Junior Kindergarten's yearlong S.T.A.R. program (Share Tell Ask Respond) highlights different students each week who bring objects from home that reflect an element of their life such as a family heirloom or cultural item. Students practice asking and answering thoughtful questions to learn more about their classmates and to make connections to their own lives. S.T.A.R. students practice skills related to public speaking and feel pride in sharing about their families.
     
  • Senior Kindergarten's Person of the Week program helps students share their unique backgrounds and learn about each other's cultures. Students practice having discussions about family heritage and make connections with their own lives.
     
  • Field trip examples: Sugar Hill Museum's cultural storytelling, Symphony Space's African Dance program, Broadway Presbyterian soup kitchen and pantry 

Lower School

Using inclusive, or “values language,” allows students to recognize and validate the many different households and experiences of our families. For example, teachers use the phrase “grown-ups” instead of “parents” so that children recognize the variety of family structures present in our community and in the world. Mindful of the different socioeconomic backgrounds of our families, teachers might ask children what books they read over winter break, rather than asking where they went on vacation.

Our Book of the Month selection introduces a new book to students in Junior Kindergarten through grade 3, highlighting a topic related to equity and inclusivity, but presented in an age-appropriate manner. 

The following are examples of how the lower school program supports topics of diversity, inclusion, and equity:

  • First grade's yearlong focus on Community highlights the community both near and far. Students learn about our school community helpers and host interviews of everyone from the kitchen staff to the head of school, learning how essential each job is to keeping our school running smoothly.
     
  • In second grade, students write a comparative paragraph that goes with the story, Same, Same, But Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw, about pen-pals who live in America and India and discover that their worlds might look different, but they are actually similar. Children learn how to use a Venn diagram to help them organize their thoughts and ideas before writing their paragraphs. Skills of geography, skillful examination of a book's plot and context, and advanced essay writing skills are all incorporated. 
     
  • Third grade students develop skills related to perspective taking through their writing units. During a literature study of The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes, the students examine what happens when assumptions are made about others and how to recognize and prevent this in their own lives.
     
  • Book of the Month, shared experience, focus isn't on differences (race, parent type, living situation) but on a "normal" situation. 
     
  • Field trips - Metropolitan Museum of Art's Benin exhibit, Metropolitan Museum of Art's Communities Around the World program, The Jewish Museum

Upper Division

Students discuss bigger topics such as poverty, climate change, sexism, and racism and discuss how they can use their own voice and actions to affect change. There is an overarching emphasis on discussing different points of view and understanding opinions and perspectives that differ from their own. Our community is intentionally diverse in experience and background, which leads to richer, more meaningful conversations.

Students discuss bigger topics such as poverty, climate change, sexism, and racism and discuss how they can use their own voice and actions to affect change. There is an overarching emphasis on discussing different points of view and understanding opinions and perspectives that differ from their own. Our community is intentionally diverse in experience and background, which leads to richer, more meaningful conversations.

The following are examples of how the upper division program supports topics of diversity, inclusion, and equity:

  • Poetry of Langston Hughes and the cultural significance of his work.
     
  • In religious knowledge class, the students study poverty (both locally and globally) and how different religious traditions provide a call to action for their followers to demonstrate empathy and charity to those in need.
     
  • As part of an ongoing community service program, upper division students spend time with elderly residents at the Amsterdam Nursing Home and serve food and play board games with clients at a food pantry run by Broadway Presbyterian Church.
     
  • In Grade 6, students study the birth of Islam and the history of major religions.  
     
  • During a globalization project in grade 7, students look at the impact of everyday purchases such as a cup of gourmet coffee or a pair of sneakers. Students calculate the cost of living around the world and compare the impact of these consumer purchases.
     
  • Field trips include: Islamic Cultural Center of New York, Museum of the American Indian, Metropolitan Museum of Art's Islamic galleries

News Stories

Alumna Author Offers Lesson in “Living History”

An accomplished alumna returned to St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s to share the fruits of her scholarship with students, faculty, parents, and alumni. Anne C. Bailey ‘82, a professor of history and African American studies at SUNY Binghamton, offered excerpts from The Weeping Time, which chronicles one of the largest slave auctions in American history.

Admission Office Hosts Jack and Jill Seminar for Prospective Families

More than 200 parents pursuing independent schools for their children gathered at St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s for the 15th annual education seminar of the Metropolitan Chapter of Jack and Jill of America. Jack and Jill’s day-long seminar was designed to demystify the world of independent schools for families of color and to connect them with schools throughout the east coast.