As published in QCity. Art teachers Stacy Utley, Makayla Binter, and Dwayne Wilson discuss how the school is embracing a broader understanding of art, incorporating more artists of color and female artists into our curriculum.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
We believe that students benefit significantly from an education that affirms respect and inclusivity as core values. We aspire to be a school community that not only values the principles of equity, inclusivity, and justice, but also a community that puts principles to practice on a daily basis. We continue to grow together and learn from each other.
- History of Diversity at Country Day
- Affirmation of Community
- A More Diverse and Inclusive Community
- Affinity Groups
- Student Leadership Development
- Faculty/Staff Professional Development
- Programs & Events
- Helpful Community Resources
- Meet Our Team
Eric Law becomes Country Day's first African American graduate and earns a National Merit Scholarship. He eventually returns to Country Day to serve on the Board of Trustees.
In an effort to increase diversity at the school, Country Day becomes affiliated with A Better Chance (ABC) to identify and promote scholarships for minority students. Nethea Rhinehart '89 and Joan Tolbert '89 are the first ABC graduates at Country Day.
The school takes another skip forward when it receives a $35,000 grant from the E.E. Ford Foundation for scholarships for African American students.
The Hearst Foundation awards a grant to Country Day to initiate the Hearst Teaching Fellowship, which awards the school in bringing more diversity to our faculty. Since 1994, 26 teachers of color have come to Country Day for one-year fellowships, enriching our students' multicultural educational experiences.
Mark Reed joins Country Day as our first African American Head of School. Under his leadership, the school continues to experience remarkable growth, stability, and security.
Country Day creates, develops, and hosts the first Affirming Community Together (ACT) conference for area middle school students. The event, which rotates among area independent schools, developed out of the desire of Upper School students to pass on the knowledge they acquired while attending national diversity conferences.
Head of School Mark Reed serves as keynote speaker and session leader for Carney Sandoe & Associate's first national Diversity Conference.
Country Day hosts the annual North Carolina Association of Independent Schools Diversity Conference.
Head of School Mark Reed becomes board chair of the Southern Association of Independent Schools.
Country Day hosts the annual North Carolina Association of Independent Schools Diversity Conference.
Affirmation of Community
- Building and sustaining a community diverse in membership.
- Acceptance and respect for differences in age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, culture, sexual orientation, ability, physical attributes, and socioeconomic circumstances.
- Curriculum which equips students to think critically, to act respectfully, and to show sensitivity to the needs and feelings of others.
- Curriculum which educates for the future and which prepares students for participation in local and global communities.
- Faculty and staff who know and affirm each individual child, who actively seek to understand and appreciate perspectives different from their own, and who model for their students the valuing of diversity.
- Accountability for behaviors which convey disrespect; courage and trust to acknowledge and grow from missteps and misunderstandings in our personal interactions within our diverse community.
- Inclusive school events which seek to create shared experiences, fellowship, and understanding.
- School culture and climate which allow each member to feel valued and affirmed, and thereby promote belonging and foster community ownership.
- Awareness that living in community and embracing diversity are an active process, a continual journey which engages us in personal and institutional self-assessment, reflections, and openness to growth and change.
“We are better as a community when we celebrate our differences and share our similarities. When we realize what we have in common, we are able to learn from how we differ. It makes us all better.”
MATT LESS, HEAD OF UPPER SCHOOL
We are committed to building and sustaining a community diverse in membership, including increasing our racial and ethnic diversity for both students and faculty.
- Developing a diverse student body is a top priority in admissions considerations. The Admissions Committee is comprised of the Head of School, Director of Diversity Planning, Director and Associate Directors of Admissions, and members of the faculty. The decision-making process is determined by academic, social, and emotional development of each student, as well as the dynamics and composition of the incoming class and school.
- For the 2020–21 school year, 27% of newly enrolled children identify as students of color.
- The Upper School is a major entry point at Country Day. In the last three years, 50% of students invited to 9th grade have been students of color. In 2019–20, 69% of those students accepted attended Country Day.
Each year, students of color re-enroll at a rate of 97%.
Faculty & Leadership
The school has increased its faculty of color significantly to 15%, including important leadership roles of Head of School, Director of Diversity Planning, Athletic Director, Curriculum Director, Deans, and Alumni Director.
We partner with the following organizations:
A Better Chance (ABC)—Country Day partners with ABC to help identify bright and talented young people of color who are interested in attending an independent school. Since 1987, we have enrolled 46 students of color through the ABC partnership (fun fact: one of the students is a current County Day parent of a fifth grader).
Sugar Creek Charter School (SCCS)—In 2013, Country Day began a relationship with Sugar Creek Charter School to enroll bright students who are interested in attending an independent school. The SCCS Scholarship includes full tuition, a summer program, transportation, books, and additional financial and academic support for Upper School students. We have enrolled 24 students since the partnership began.
GenOne—Country Day partners with GenOne to help identify academically talented students whose families do not come from a college background and provide the financial resources needed to attend an independent school. Since 2019, we have welcomed six students to Country Day.
Hearst Teaching Fellowship—One way we recruit some of the brightest young teachers in our region is through the Hearst Endowed Teaching Fellowship, a grant awarded to Country Day by the Hearst Foundation. The grant attracts recent minority graduates from Davidson College to our school. Since 1994, we have welcomed 26 Davidson Hearst Teaching Fellows, several of which became full-time faculty members.
Our Affinity Groups in Lower, Middle, and Upper School 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.
Students of Color Affinity Group (grades 3–4)
Builds community by providing students of color a safe space to share common experiences while celebrating and affirming their identities. Students have the opportunity to see familiar faces, make new friends, and continue to foster and build relationships. These students encompass a variety of racial backgrounds.
African American Affinity Group
Students and group leaders who share the bond of color meet to affirm, support, and celebrate the unique identities of the group. We often break up into separate boys and girls groups.
Promotes an understanding and appreciation of Hispanic and Latin(x) culture. Students and teachers of Latin descent and Hispanic heritage gather to share what it’s like being Latin(x) in Charlotte, celebrate what makes us proud of our heritage, explore the concept of identity and how we fit into the mosaic of cultures and communities; both locally and more broadly.
MOSAIC stands for Mutual Respect, Open-Mindedness, Self-Respect, Attitude, Individuality, and Community and looks at diversity from a variety of perspectives. Students develop leadership skills, feel empowered to speak up, and impact the community at large by creating school and advisory activities that encourage and facilitate a more inclusive community. It also creates a sense of belonging to a larger, shared community.
Multiracial Affinity Group (biracial identity)
Students and group leaders who share the bond of color meet to affirm, support, and celebrate the unique identities of the group.
You Go Girl
A girl’s empowerment club offered to girls in grades 7–8. Girls discuss self-awareness, social competence, and equality. Through discussions with each other and community guests, students learn that their voices matter.
Diversity Awareness Forum (DAF)
The DAF offers students and faculty a setting to discuss various sociological topics related to our community—the school, local, national, or international communities. The Forum seeks to nurture a deeper awareness and understanding of these topics. The DAF serves as the umbrella community to bring together the voices of these clubs:
Asian Affinity Club
Promotes awareness of Asian and Asian-American culture at Country Day and in the Country Day community; serves as a place for all students interested in the Asian and Asian American culture to interact with one another through educational, social, and cultural events and activities.
Black Student Union (BSU)
Provides support for the black community, as well as provides education of Black history, culture, and exploration of the African Diaspora.
Provides an important voice for the Hispanic perspective in the Country Day community and an outreach to the greater Charlotte Hispanic community.
Exposes students to different cultures/religions and engages in mindful dialogue grounded in a mission to understand and listen to various points of view.
Helps foreign students adjust to life at Country Day and in the U.S. and educates the student body about various foreign cultures. All students (foreign or not) are encouraged to join.
PRISSM (Promoting Respect Inclusion and Safety for Sexual Minorities)
Provides a safe space for expression, discussion, and acceptance of sexual orientation in all its variety, and thoughtful, empathetic examination of the various issues that unfold out of our awareness of our differences and our determination to seek social justice for all.
SWAG (Super Women's Affinity Group)
Promotes and develops understanding of gender equality and feminism and their applicability to both the Country Day community and the 21st century world around us.
POCIS (People of Color in Independent Schools)
POCIS members are Country Day parents, students, faculty, and staff interested in helping fulfill our mission and affirmation of community. POCIS members believe diversity, inclusion, and multiculturalism are endemic to quality education for all. This organization is focused on sustaining a community diverse in membership and is open to all. The full strength of this organization will be realized when its makeup is representative of all cultures represented at the school.
POCIS has Parents' Association representatives at each division of the school to share how to get involved and support advancing diversity and inclusion at Country Day.
International Parents Group
The International Parents Group helps welcome and integrate international families into the school community. In addition to families with international backgrounds, families with an interest in helping promote global engagement and diversity are also welcome. This parent volunteer organization represents 45 nationalities and regularly volunteer with classroom activities and campus events.
Student Diversity Leadership Corps
The 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 is proud and committed to sending a number of students to the National Association of Independent School's Student Diversity Leadership Conference each year. SDLC 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.
Professional development is integral to our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts and we are proud of the opportunities we provide our faculty and staff.
Faculty/Staff Diversity Training
- 100% of our faculty are required to have a minimum of 10 hours of diversity, equity, and inclusion training for each of their continuing/ongoing education cycles.
- At the start of every school year, new 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 national conferences and opportunities focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
People of Color Conference
The People of Color Conference (PoCC) is the flagship of the National Association of Independent Schools' commitment to equity and justice in teaching, learning, and organizational development. The mission of the conference is to provide a safe space for leadership, professional development, and networking for people of color and allies of all backgrounds in independent schools. 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
SEED is a peer-led professional development program that promotes change through self-reflection and conversation. Since 2000, Country Day has conducted SEED groups for our faculty.
Diversity Leadership Institute (DLI)
The National Association of Independent Schools' Diversity Leadership Institute (DLI) provides tools to lead and manage the shifting intercultural changes in school. Since 2015, County Day sends 2–4 faculty members to the DLI each year.
Divisional Diversity Coordinators
A team of faculty from each division work as facilitators for activities and events that help to create a truly inclusive environment. They assist in the planning of various faculty, student, and parent diversity/inclusion activities, such as assemblies, guest speakers, and classroom and advisory activities within their respective divisions.
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
All faculty and staff experienced the Tom Hanchett History of Charlotte presentation and a three-hour bus tour to gain a better understanding of the history of our city.
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:
AMAZE Program—The intentional DEI and social/emotional learning work we do in junior kindergarten and kindergarten classrooms lays the groundwork for continued openness to and respect for difference in developmentally appropriate ways. In 2016, we implement the AMAZE program, which provides children with dolls, conversation, and high-quality literature that mirrors their own likes and dislikes, physical features, and home life. The program tools provide a window into differences such as family structure, socioeconomic status, or heritage change. Read more about the program.
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: Perspectives/Identity
(Books read: Sugar, Jewell Parker Rhodes; Finding Langston, Lesa Cline-Ransome; Wastons Go to Birmingham, Christopher Paul Curtis; Stella, Sharon M. Draper
- Sixth grade: Bias
(Book read: I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives, Martin Ganda and Caitlin Alifirenka)
- Seventh grade: Stereotypes
(Book read: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer)
- Eighth grade: Prejudice
(Book read: Gaijin: American Prisoner of War, Matt Faulkner)
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 (in planning phase; will be offered in 2022)
As our Affirmation of Community indicates, we strive to develop inclusive school events which seek to create shared experiences, fellowship, and understanding among all members of our community, including students, faculty/staff, parents, and alumni.
Diversity Guest Author Series
As part of our Diversity Guest Author Series developed in 2006, every year we invite an award-winning writer or literary voice whose work introduces Middle School students to diverse cultural backgrounds. Reading great literature that is relevant to the lives and daily experiences of students helps build empathy, compassion, and understanding within. Additionally, 2,700 Charlotte-Mecklenburg middle and high school students have been invited to our campus to hear the guest speakers. Over the years, we have welcomed literary giants such as Nic Stone, Walter Dean Myers, Jacqueline Woodson, Joseph Bruchac, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Kekla Magoon, Matt de la Pena, Nina LaCour, and 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.
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 Annual Back-to-School Family Cookout
Since 1999, POCIS sponsors an annual cookout for all students, parents, and faculty and staff to kickoff the school year and celebrate multicultural awareness at Country Day.
Lower School Daughter's Choice Dance
Hosted by POCIS, this annual event brings together Lower School girls and their fathers, grandfathers, godfathers, uncles or special friends.
Upper School Senior Showcase
Since 2001, this POCIS-sponsored event honors graduating seniors of POCIS families and students who support diversity, equity, and inclusion. The evening acknowledges each student's journey, success, and contribution to the Country Day community.
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.
A list of resources have been compiled to help broaden perspectives and start meaningful conversations. You can also find more here.
Talking to Kids
- Talking to children after racial incidents: University of Pennsylvania GSE News
- “One talk at a time:" University of North Carolina Greensboro
- “Talking with Young Children About Race”: NPR
- We need more white parents to talk to their kids about race. Especially now.: NAEYC
- Resources for Talking About Race, Racism and Racialized Violence with Kids: Center for Racial Justice in Education
- Teaching Young Children about Race: A Guide for Parents and Teachers: Teaching for Change
- Parent’s Guide to Talking With Kids About Protest: Article 20 Network
- Teaching About Race, Racism and Police Violence: Teaching Tolerance
- The 1619 Project: The New York Times Magazine
- Your Kids Aren't Too Young to Talk About Race: Resource Roundup: Pretty Good
- A resource for talking about race with young children: Raising Race Conscious Children
Want to do more?
We acknowledge the need and desire to act. At Country Day, action takes the form of education. Here are a few ideas:
- Join the conversation at Charlotte Country Day School. Participate in our ongoing dialogues that helps us to continue to affirm community.
- Worried About a Friend? Use Your E.D.G.E.: Teaching Tolerance
- Let's Talk About It! New and improved guide for facilitating critical conversations with students: Teaching Tolerance
- The Board of Trustees established the Community and Culture Committee and a Board Diversity Initiative committed an increase of $1.4 million specifically for recruiting, retaining, and supporting our DEI goals.
- 20% of our enrollment is comprised of students of color of which 8% are Black and 15% faculty of color.
- The Board of Trustees is comprised of 23% of people of color of which 16% are Black
Our students come from different faith, socioeconomic, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds, and they all bring their own passions, talents, and personalities. In order for ALL of our students to feel valued, they need to feel understood and supported. We must model for our children the power of living as an authentic, inclusive community.
Brian Wise, Director of Diversity Planning
In early June 2020, Head of School Mark Reed and the Board of Trustees shared a series of letters to the community outlining a set of action steps designed to collectively continue building a culture of inclusivity. Those steps included listening, acknowledging, renewing our commitment and acting, and reporting back.
Middle School arts curriculum moves beyond Western Europe to reflect our multicultural history