Reflections from Key’s Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Jenifer Moore

Shortly after starting my new position as Key’s Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion last July, I was invited to a retreat with students and faculty from around the region to begin planning the annual Baltimore Student Leadership Diversity Conference (BSDLC), which Key is hosting on November 10. The BSDLC is the longest-running student conference of its kind in the Mid-Atlantic region, engaging students, faculty and staff from AIMS schools in open conversation and student-led workshops about educational equity, diversity and inclusion; the conference has taken place for more than twenty years. Student delegations from Key have been attending this conference for many years and our students and faculty alike are very excited to have the honor of hosting this fall.

At the planning retreat, Key students, along with students from six other independent schools, had a significant job to do in a matter of hours—they had to decide on a theme for this year’s conference. In doing this, the students considered important issues facing the country in recent years such as school violence, the environment, sports culture, cultural appropriation, and border control. I gained so much insight into these issues as, one by one, students stood and, with eloquence and well-researched arguments, advocated for their topics. At the end of the day, the students decided on the theme “This is America! #SEE Me.”

What was even more fascinating to me, was the next step! Over the next four months, students were responsible for planning the entire conference. After attending several off-site and on-campus planning sessions, I have truly come to understand that Key is a place where student voices are not only valued, but also the essence of the Key experience. I’ve had the pleasure of watching fourteen Key students collaborate with students from other area independent schools and take part in profound conversations about tough issues. Together, they have created a series of powerful one-hour workshops that not only outline important issues in our country, but also allow students to brainstorm, breathe, share, and plan for change.

During the most recent planning meeting at Bryn Mawr in Baltimore, students presented a run-through of each workshop. As each group gave a ten-minute synopsis of their sessions, I witnessed some of the most powerful presentations I have ever experienced in my career, which spans 15 years and hundreds of training sessions and workshops as an educator and advocate for children. Using technology, creativity, facts, and opinions, the students spoke and we listened! The student facilitators were thinking not just about the content that will be shared at the conference, they were also considering how it would be shared. They worked out details including seating arrangements, icebreakers, trigger-warnings, and closings.

This upcoming student conference, with an anticipated 350 in attendance, will be powerful, memorable and life-changing for many. Planning this conference with the students has been profound for me in terms of planning upcoming diversity work at Key. I’ve learned that we must listen to the students because their experiences are different from ours, they will challenge the status quo, and they are ready to lead change!

Thank you to these students who helped plan the event: Luca Brewer ’19, Brianna Burke ’22, Sloane Butler ’19, David Esaw ’22, Angela Harris ’20, Gracie Jones ’19, Zoë McLain ’20, Denise Morova ’20, Ari Riggins ’19, Camryn Russell ’22, Noah Simon ’21, Hannah Stark ’19, Eden Valdivieso ’19, and Hailey Williams ’19 Of additional note, Ari Riggins ‘19 designed the t-shirt that will be worn by all conference participants.

Participating Schools: Boys’ Latin School of Maryland, The Bryn Mawr School, Garrison Forest School, Gilman School, Key School, Notre Dame Preparatory School and Roland Park Country School

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