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Creating a Conscious Community

mikael, dei, diversity

Dear AFS Students and Faculty,

I hope this message finds you in good health and high spirits!

During my tenure at AFS, we have discussed topics such as Culturally Responsive Pedagogy, Trauma-Informed Pedagogy, Social-Emotional Learning, Experiential Learning, Restorative Justice, Windows & Mirrors, Student Engagement, Community Building, Accountability, Scholar-athletes, and most recently Studentship. In the midst of yearly schedule changes, and a global pandemic, it has been challenging to engage students and faculty around these aforementioned topics with intention and consistency. Indeed, time and space are always at a premium, and priorities often shift due to the needs of any given moment. That said, I found it imperative to intentionally incorporate time and space for DEIJB work into the weekly schedule, which started with the implementation of Conscious Communities in the Upper School during the 2020-2021 school year.

A Conscious Community is one that heightens awareness and expression, provides meaning and purpose, responds to human needs, reflects values and culture, and encourages and supports learning, growth, health, and well-being. As we look towards the future, it is my hope  to design a program that will lift up experiences and concepts as a way to deepen our understanding of ourselves, each other, our community, and the broader communities in which we live. The goal is to equip and empower students (and faculty) with the necessary tools and resources to build and broaden our community and connections in an inclusive and equitable way.

In its inaugural year in the Upper School, Conscious Communities engaged community in courageous conversations and explored the pandemic, protests, and politics through an equity and justice lens. At the beginning of this school year, I shared with the Upper School students and faculty the notion that we, as one community, are Better Together. I expressed the importance of engaging in both Bonding and Bridging activities and introduced the idea of Radical Welcoming from Dr. Chris Emdin’s book, Ratchetdemic.

As we engage our Strategic Plan and envision the future of AFS, I believe the opportunity to reimagine and reinvigorate programs of the past is upon us. To that end, as a result of multiple conversations with many AFS stakeholders and the implementation of Conscious Communities, we will engage in a reimagined Many Voices, One Community Day. Let us frame it as a Community Day. This will be a day of Bonding, Bridging, and Radical Welcoming aimed at being responsive to our community’s identified needs (Studentship, Leadership, Equity, Engagement, etc). We will be partnering with Game 7 Character Builders for a Game Day.



Mikael Yisrael
Director of Equity, Justice, and Engagement
Abington Friends School
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