A Diverse and Inclusive Community
We are committed to building and sustaining a community diverse in membership in numerous ways. Increasing our racial and ethnic diversity for both students and faculty is a top priority.
- Affinity Groups
- Faculty and Student Development
- Student and Faculty Partnerships
- Programs and Events
Our 16 Affinity Groups strengthen our community by providing support, connection, and affirmation to our students and parents whose identities—whether racial, ethnic, or otherwise—may differ from the majority population and culture at Country Day.
Members explore issues of shared identity and experience, and affirm their emotional and intellectual responses to being part of a distinct sub-set of the community. There is a sacred value held by all members to create a "safe space" for everyone and to allow for participants to be an individual within the group itself.
As suggested by Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, our Affinity Groups adopt the ABC approach:
- Affirming Identity
- Building Community
- Cultivating Leadership
Our affinity groups provide the opportunity and time for students to integrate personal stories and experiences, enact change, and become leaders of our community. Read more about our Affinity Groups.
Country Day's Affinity Groups
- Students of Color Affinity Group (grades 3–4)
- African American Affinity Group (grades 5–8)
- LatinX Club (grades 5–8)
- MOSAIC (Mutual Respect, Open-Mindedness, Self-Respect, Attitude, Individuality, and Community) Club (grades 5–8)
- Multiracial Affinity Group (biracial identity) (grades 5–8)
- You Go Girl (girls grades 7–8)
Diversity Awareness Forum (DAF) (grades 9–12)
The Diversity Awareness Forum was created to promote a general respect for people's differences by creating an open-minded environment that embraces all people, ideas, and cultures. The Forum seeks to nurture a deeper awareness and understanding of various topics, strives to break all stereotypes and educate through exposure to communities both outside and within our own. The DAF serves as the umbrella community to bring together the voices of these clubs:
- Asian Affinity Club
- Black Student Union (BSU)
- Interfaith Club
- International Club
- PRISSM (Promoting Respect Inclusion and Safety for Sexual Minorities)
- SWAG (Super Women's Affinity Group)
In 2014, the Diversity Awareness Lunch Forum was established to offer an opportunity for students and faculty to engage in courageous conversations that enrich our community and support our students. The goal is to create a diverse and inclusive school which consciously and deliberately strives to build an equitable and just community.
Our teachers and administrators continually assess and revise curriculum through a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens to ensure what and how we teach is equipping students to think critically, act respectfully, and to show sensitivity to the needs and feelings of others:
Curriculum at a Glance
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is a lens through which we view all of our practice in the Lower School. We want our students to feel known and seen at school, to maintain their “eager curiosity” about difference while building their empathy and understanding of the world. We intentionally provide students with “windows” that offer a view into someone else’s experience and “mirrors” that reflect their own culture and help them build positive identities. Throughout their Lower School experience students learn to think critically about the information they access and to explore content that provides them with a global perspective on the world. We seek to foster a sense of community responsibility and to graduate change-makers in our world.
Embedded in Curriculum
Our social studies curriculum encourages curiosity and helps students develop an understanding of a rapidly changing world. Students become aware of their personal and cultural identities, and they acquire the skills and knowledge needed to actively participate in their classroom, school, community, and world. Through exploration, building of foundational knowledge, and project-based learning, our goal in the lower school is to engage students in active participation with their community, develop critical thinking skills, and explore issues and topics from multiple perspectives.
Reading and Writing Workshop provides students the opportunity to explore a wide variety of texts that feature diverse characters and to develop their critical literacy skills. Teachers in the Lower School deliberately select texts for read-alouds and classroom libraries that provide “windows” and “mirrors” for students. Students develop critical literacy skills that challenge students to view concepts, issues, themes and problems from various perspectives and points of view.
In special area classes, students have a unique opportunity to dive deeper into learning about the world around them. Whether it is learning about the diverse experiences and perspectives of artists and scientists from the past or present or exploring cultures from around the world, students engage with the world around them in each of their special classes. Through this engagement, we encourage respect and appreciation for differences by broadening students’ perspectives through art, science, and language.
- Affinity Groups
- Around the World—This popular Lower School after-school program enables students to share their cultural insights and knowledge about their country of origin. Student presenters represented Somalia, South Africa, France, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Colombia, and Mongolia.
World Geography—Seventh-grade teachers reshaped their curriculum to bring in numerous speakers from around the world to personally connect students with the countries they study. Guest speakers representing more than 30 countries include Country Day teachers, Upper School students and parents, along with community members from organizations like the JCC, CPCC, the Rotary Club, and the World Affairs Council.
Immigration Day—Since 2013, all seventh graders participate in this annual event. Students hear from immigrants who share their stories, learn from an Immigration Services Officer, and participate in other curricular activities intended to better their understanding of this issue. Students make connections with the required English reading of Ask Me No Questions and other interdisciplinary work in World Geography, science, Spanish, and math.
Grade Level Diversity Themes—we have long established diversity themes that highlight aspect student identity. These themes are examined through advisory, book clubs, and summer reading:
- Fifth Grade:
Books read: Amina's Voice, by Hena Khan; I Can Make This Promise, by Christine Day; Before the Ever After, by Jacqueline Woodson; Some Places More Than Others, by Renee Watson; New Kid, by Jerry Craft; Wonder, by RJ Palacio
- Sixth Grade:
Ancient Civilization Literature Connections: students read and consider various texts from ancient civilizations throughout the globe that represent different voices and and cultures. Examples include, The Odyssey, Epic of Gilgamesh, The Mahabharata, and Tears of Meng Jiang Nu.
Other books read: The Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, by Dusti Bowling; Wishtree, by Katherine Applegate; Ghost, by Jason Reynolds; Front Desk, by Kelly Yang; Harbor Me, by Jacqueline Woodson; The Bridge Home, by Padma Venkatraman
- Seventh Grade:
Books read: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, byWilliam Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer; The Outsiders, by SE Hinton; Refugee, by Alan Gratz
- Eighth Grade
Books read: The Hero Next Door, edited by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich; Us, in Progress: Short Stories about Young Latinos, by Lulu Delacre; Once Upon an Edi: Stories of Hope and Joy; by 15 Muslim Voices
Freshman Seminar—this required course is designed specifically for ninth grade students and addresses various issues and developmental needs of young adolescents including harassment awareness; identity development; difference; and cooperation. In addition, all freshman are required to attend Diversity Awareness Forum sessions.
World History (9th/10th grade)—incorporates history of world religions and impacts of Colonialism around the world.
Elective Course Offerings—English and History electives give students the option to dive deep into courses such as:
Philosophy, Faith, and Fiction
Education for Social Justice
African American History
20th Century Women’s History
Latin American History (offered in 2022)
Professional development among our faculty is integral to our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts and we provide leadership training opportunities for students as well.
Faculty/Staff Diversity Training
- 100% of our faculty complete a minimum of 10 hours of diversity, equity, and inclusion training.
- All faculty and staff participate in a diversity, equity and inclusion workshop as part of their New Employee Orientation.
Professional development funds are available to send faculty and staff to attend national conferences and opportunities focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion, including:
People of Color Conference—Since 1998, Country Day sends two faculty members from each division and six Upper School students to the conference each year.
National SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) Project—Since 2000, Country Day has conducted SEED groups for our faculty.
Diversity Leadership Institute (DLI)—Since 2015, County Day sends 2–4 faculty members to the DLI each year.
Journey Through Civil Rights Tragedies and Triumphs
Seventeen Upper School teachers learned about the history of America's struggle with civil rights and social justice as they traveled to sites in Atlanta, Montgomery, Selma, Tuskegee, and Birmingham. The four-day bus tour was an immersive experience designed to enable conversation about history and current issues within the faculty, and influence curriculum across departments. Read the full story.
Historical Bus Tour of Charlotte
In 2018, all faculty and staff partnered with the Charlotte Building Initiative and experienced local historian Tom Hanchett's history of Charlotte, including a three-hour bus tour to learn more deeply about our city's racial history. Each new hire has a similar experience as part of a two-year mentoring program.
Student Leadership Development
Opportunities exist for Middle and Upper School students to develop leadership skills while helping to build a more inclusive community:
Student Diversity Leadership Corps (SDLC)—provides selected Upper School students with a leadership opportunity to assist and support the Office of Diversity Planning in building and sustaining a diverse and culturally inclusive school. The SDLC collaborates with the Diversity Awareness Forum, our Upper School administration, and Diversity Planning team, to develop activities and events that promote a deeper knowledge of self, respect for others, and a commitment to affirming community and inclusion for our faculty and student body.
Student Diversity Leadership Conference—Country Day sends a number of Upper School students to the National Association of Independent School's Student Diversity Leadership Conference each year, which is an inclusive, multiracial, multicultural gathering of Upper School student leaders from around the country and world.
Affirming Community Together Middle School Conference—In 2012, Country Day created, developed, and hosted the first Affirming Community Together (ACT) conference for Charlotte-area middle school students. The event, which rotates among local independent schools and is held every year, developed out of the desire of Upper School students to pass on the knowledge they acquired while attending the Student Diversity Leadership Conference.
We proudly partner with four organizations to help identify talented students and faculty of color. These include:
- A Better Chance (ABC)—Since 1987, we have enrolled 46 students of color through the ABC partnership.
- Sugar Creek Charter School (SCCS)—We have enrolled 24 Upper School students since the partnership began in 2013.
- GenOne—Since 2019, we have welcomed six students to Country Day.
- Hearst Teaching Fellowship—Since 1994, we have welcomed 26 Davidson Hearst Teaching Fellows, several of whom become full-time faculty members.
Each year, the school offers events designed specifically to acknowledge and celebrate multicultural awareness. Some of these events include:
- Diversity Guest Author Series—Developed in 2006, every year we invite an award-winning writer or literary voice whose work introduces our Middle School students and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools students to diverse cultural backgrounds. Read more.
- Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.—Every January, students in each division attend a special assembly that honors the life, legacy, and impact of Martin Luther King, Jr. In addition, Lower School students participate in a "living museum" consisting of special activities and Middle School students plan and present readings and reflections at an annual breakfast attended by family members. Read more.
- Middle School Assembly Speakers—Head of Middle School Warren Sepkowitz invites members of the Country Day community, including parents and faculty/staff, to serve as guest speakers and share their stories, experiences, and perspectives on issues of inclusion, similarity, and difference.
POCIS-Sponsored Events—include an annual cookout for all students, parents, and faculty and staff to kickoff the school year and celebrate multicultural awareness at Country Day, a Daughter's Choice Dance, and an Upper School Senior Showcase to honor graduating seniors of POCIS families and students who support diversity, equity, and inclusion. Read more.
- Alumni Diversity Awareness Forum (DAF) Luncheon—Held annually and in collaboration between the Office of Diversity Planning and Alumni Relations, this event invites college-aged alumni diversity leaders to return to campus and share their experiences with current students who participate in DAF groups.