St. Margaret’s cultural competency initiatives were in the spotlight last week, as the community welcomed renowned educator Rosetta Lee to campus as a Scholar in Residence.
Ms. Lee is a thought leader and outreach specialist in the development of cultural competency skills, particularly in independent school settings. She engaged with constituencies across the St. Margaret’s community during her stay, meeting with students, parents, faculty/staff, administrators and the Board of Trustees.
St. Margaret’s Strategic Plan specifically lists the development of cultural competency “as an essential element of a St. Margaret’s education, equipping students with the awareness and skills necessary to effectively engage with others across cultures, perspectives and backgrounds.”
Ms. Lee shared that building cultural competency within a community is not about assimilating individuals with diverse identities, but rather valuing differences and leveraging them to create a more vibrant and innovative school. That message was conveyed in a variety of contexts across campus during the week.
Ms. Lee held several large-group sessions, speaking to Lower School students in Chapel, meeting several times with Upper and Middle School students in the Hurlbut Theater, and presenting to more than 60 parents in the Library. Her week as Scholar in Residence also allowed for thoughtful discussions in more personal settings, including meetings with the Academic Leadership Team; Communications, Advancement and Human Resources Departments; Tartan Inclusivity and Diversity Education student leadership group (TIDE); Upper School and Middle School Deans; Service Learning Team; Division Principals; Chaplains; Breakthrough San Juan Capistrano Leadership Team; the Board of Trustees and Head of School Will Moseley.
“There has been a lot of eagerness and engagement [at St. Margaret’s],” Ms. Lee said. “Teachers are really eager to walk away with the inclusive practices classroom tool, there was a great turnout with the parent event, and everyone is thinking about ‘How do I intentionally teach positive self-identity and commitment to making sure others feel good about who they are and where they come from?’”
Assistant Head of School Ryan Dahlem noted, “We are grateful for the support of a PTF grant that allowed us to bring national expert Rosetta Lee to campus for a week as Scholar in Residence. Ms. Lee’s impact was felt across our community through her inspirational and thought-provoking presentations and conversations. Importantly, she provided practical tools that will allow us to continue developing cultural competency skills going forward -- in our students, ourselves and as an institution.”
Ms. Lee teaches at the Seattle Girls’ School and has worked with nearly 100 schools across the country on issues such as diversity, cross-cultural communication, identity development, prejudice reduction and coalition building. She previously visited St. Margaret’s in 2013 to lead a workshop with Upper School student leaders.
Rosetta Lee Presentations and Resources:
to read more about St. Margaret’s ongoing work in developing cultural competency skills.