I’d like to share the story of a single, working mom who advocated tirelessly for the rights of women and children. This highly educated woman studied engineering and went on to become a medical doctor earning additional degrees in experimental psychology and anthropology. For reasons having nothing to do with what she believed, and only because of her place of birth, she found herself confined by the British government as an enemy alien in a country 7,000 miles from her home in Italy.
This is not the story of a contemporary activist. This is Maria Montessori.
From this pioneering foundation, Chiaravalle Montessori continues to prioritize our work on equity, diversity, and inclusion as a strategic goal.
We believe that Chiaravalle’s most consequential impact is not limited to academic education, but extends to effecting change for a more peaceful world. We embrace our Montessori ideals of being part of the interconnected human family and conscientious, ethical citizens of the world who are caretakers of our planet.
“As our world continually becomes ‘smaller’ and we share our sidewalks, parks, schools and all types of public spaces with people from every part of the world, there can be nothing more valuable than children who approach those who look or speak differently than they do with openness, children who recognize, value, and have curiosity about another person’s culture. Those children, in being open, understanding, and educated about the human cultural experience, will lead us to a more peaceful future.”
— Suzanne Reed, Chiaravalle parent and mom of two alumni
Modeling, practicing, and advancing ideas of equity, inclusion, and cultural competency infuse all that we do at Chiaravalle. This is why we have reimagined our diversity work through a school-wide anti-bias curriculum.
What are the goals of an anti-bias education?*
- Nurture each child’s construction of a knowledgeable, confident self-identity and group identity.
- Promote each child’s comfortable, empathic interaction with people from diverse backgrounds.
- Foster each child’s critical thinking about bias.
- Cultivate each child’s ability to stand up for her/himself and for others in the face of bias.
Our dedication to providing a comprehensive approach includes student and parent experiences, as well as faculty professional development. Through this, we continue the work started by one extraordinary working mom in a multifaceted approach fitting our modern Montessori education.
Here’s where you will see Chiaravalle’s influence in action:
- In our homerooms, through the anti-bias curriculum. Last year, Chiaravalle’s Equity Committee crafted a curriculum for our school that highlights a different aspect of identity each month. In turn, each homeroom will focus on one aspect of the anti-bias curriculum, including: ability, family, power, religion, race and ethnicity, language, and gender. In this integrated learning process, children practice perspective taking, critical analysis, and participate in respectful discourse, supporting their individual growth. The bulletin board in the main lobby will rotate to highlight our successes in the classroom.
- In our children’s social lives, through The DIG Playgroup. The Diversity and Inclusion Playgroup is for ALL Toddler and Early Childhood families interested in connecting with others in the Chiaravalle community. By bringing our diverse community together with the intention of connection, we help our children, ourselves and the world grow into a more loving and peaceful place. Deeply rooted in love: The beauty of a garden comes from the diversity of the seeds planted.
- In our adult community, through Affinity Groups. Affinity group are self-managed communities. At Chiaravalle, this means that while individuals or a small group will take the leadership role for coordination, members take collective responsibility for ensuring that their group interacts respectfully and meets their own and others’ needs for authenticity, personal growth, and development. Chiaravalle’s first affinity group is the PAC affinity or Pan-African (i.e. black, African American) and Caribbean. This group is dedicated to listening, highlighting, and empowering black and brown voices within our rich and ever growing community.
- In our faculty, through SEED training. The National SEED Project is a peer-led professional development program that creates conversational communities to drive personal, organizational, and societal change toward greater equity and diversity. Chiaravalle is starting with 15-25 participants who will meet 30+ hours over the year. SEED work acknowledges this is an ongoing process, not a one-time training. It engages allies from dominant groups in listening, learning, and taking thoughtful strategic action in order to help break down patterns of oppression and is not about blame, shame, or guilt about one's location in societal systems.
“An education capable of saving humanity is no small undertaking; it involves the spiritual development of man, the enhancement of his value as an individual, and the preparation of young people to understand the times in which they live.”
— Maria Montessori, Education and Peace
We are eager to keep you engaged and informed as this work continues. When questions arise, I invite you to talk with me or Educational Director Clare Heath. It is our privilege to share with you a modern Montessori education that inspires independent, compassionate, and innovative thinkers. As always, we are honored to be part of your family’s lives.
Robyn McCloud-Springer, Head of School