Faculty, staff, and students from independent schools from around the country attended the People of Color Conference in Atlanta, Georgia on December 8-10. The conference focused on the theme of Advancing Human and Civil Rights–Fulfilling the Dream Together. There were more than 6,000 attendees, 1,600 of them students, which is the largest in the conference’s 30 year history.

The four faculty members from IMS who attended were (pictured right to left) Head of the Upper School Flynn Corson, Director of Student Health and Wellness Lauren Frankenbach (LCSW), School Counselor Veena Raghuvir, and Life Skills Teacher Nora Yasumura.

“It was a very powerful, thoughtful, humbling, and interesting conference,” said Lauren Frankenbach. One of the many powerful moments included an opening ceremony presentation by 15-year-old Royce Mann, whose slam poetry performances of “White Boy Privilege” and “All Lives Matter, But…,” have been seen by millions of viewers via social media.

The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) chose the theme of Advancing Human and Civil Rights–Fulfilling the Dream Together, as a call to action for our schools in society. Rooted in the world-changing legacy of the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the NAIS and the conference co-chairs were united in a desire to invoke “the dream” as remembrance, aspiration, and inspiration for the work of equity, diversity, and social justice. Calling explicit attention to both human and civil rights invites critical thinking about the concerns of today and also recognizes the depth and comprehensiveness of Dr. King’s approach to injustice and social equality.
As collaboration is fundamental to innovation—and many of the human and civil rights challenges we face are vexing and seemingly intractable—educational leaders at all levels need to work together to solve them. Moreover, because human beings are complex, with needs and concerns informed by multiple identities and intersections, the 2016 theme reminds us that working together magnifies our capacity to confront and eliminate the implicit and explicit structures that thwart the wellbeing and performance of all members of the independent school community, and helps ensure our relevance and success.