St. Margaret’s Leaders Present at NAIS Conference on Cultural Competency

Three St. Margaret’s administrators traveled to Baltimore last week to present at the prestigious National Association of Independent Schools Annual Conference, sharing details about how St. Margaret’s strategic cultural competency initiative intersects with the school's college counseling program.  

Assistant Head of School for Strategic Initiatives Ryan Dahlem, Academic Dean Jeneen Graham and Director of College Counseling Roland Allen together led a workshop titled “Roots and Wings: Preparing Students for the New College Campus Reality.”

Joined by Robert Greene of Jones & Associates Consulting, Inc., who has worked directly with the St Margaret's community in the past, the team explained the current college landscape and the cultural competency skills students need for success both in the admission process and once on a college campus.  

“There is little doubt that college campuses are in need of students who are culturally competent,” Dr. Graham said. “Our presentation highlighted how admission offices at colleges and universities are actively seeking students who have developed these skills. I think we spend so much time thinking about how to academically prepare our students for college, but the development of cultural competency skills is proving to be a significant growth opportunity for our schools.”

Cultural competency is a priority at St. Margaret’s as outlined in its Strategic Plan as a way to “equip students with the awareness and skills necessary to effectively engage with others across cultures, perspectives and backgrounds.”

The team shared how St. Margaret’s cultural competency work is present in multiple aspects of the Tartan experience. Mr. Allen demonstrated how the college process is a culminating experience for students to apply all they've learned at St. Margaret's, including, importantly, their cultural competency skills.  Dr. Graham described professional development programs on campus to support faculty and staff in developing their own cultural competency skills. Mr. Dahlem shared St. Margaret's institutional commitment to this work, including sessions to foster cultural competency among the Board of Trustees and parents, and highlighted ongoing  efforts with students including a recent Literacy Day activity where students shared the cultural and familial history of their names with their peers.

“We were able to communicate our approach to cultural competency development from a variety of angles, with each presenter illustrating a different dimension of our work," said Mr. Dahlem.  "It was an honor to share the story of the St. Margaret's community with a national audience."  

Added Mr. Allen, "I enjoyed being part of this panel because I got to work with my colleagues, Mr. Dahlem and Dr. Graham, and together we shared some of what makes St. Margaret’s the special community that it is. The school’s progress in cultural competency is a result of thoughtful work by so many people in the community over many years. I’m very proud of who we are as a school."
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An independent preschool through grade 12 college-preparatory day school in Orange County, California