DEI Initiatives: Middle School

Those who are familiar with the Middle School know that the division incorporates collaboration, teamwork, and joy into all of its undertakings. The division’s work for greater equity and inclusion is no exception. Some examples of DEI iniatives for the 2020-21 school year are:

Student Programming

For a division that always looks for silver linings, the Middle School found the revised 2020-21 schedule and its inclusion of the Enrichment Block to be a wonderful space for meaningful student programming. Among other significant initiatives, we utilized this space to introduce to students DEI programming from High Resolves led by Newman faculty and staff. Each grade completed two sessions. Semester one sessions included:
  • Identity Mapping – Students are introduced to the complexity of identity through the creation of visual representations of their own identity, using a process known as identity mapping. Students reflect on the similarities and differences that mark us as unique individuals who share a common humanity.
  • Cultural Lens – Students are introduced to the various components that comprise culture so they can understand its influence on the way we see the world and interact with others. They learn to appreciate the importance of the cultural lens that individuals see the world and others through.

Community Partnerships
The Middle School is always an enthusiastic partner with ADL and the No Place for Hate program. Our programming kicked off in the fall as students signed the Resolution of Respect, pledging to gain understanding of those who are different from them, speak out against prejudice and discrimination, reach out to support those who are targets of hate, promote respect for people and help foster a prejudice-free school, believe that one person can make a difference and that no person can be an “innocent” bystander when it comes to opposing hate, and recognize that respecting individual dignity and promoting intergroup harmony are the responsibilities of all students.

Student Leadership

Six years ago, Middle School students founded DiffCo – short for the Difference Committee – a group that both celebrates our differences and strives to make a difference in the community. Due to our current circumstances, we re-envisioned the way the committee operates, and engaged students by grade level during the Enrichment Block to help plan meaningful activities for their peers.

This year four eighth graders were chosen to represent Newman in the Race, Justice, and Equity 8th Grade Civic Ambassadors Program. This program, offered by the Close Up Foundation and the National Network of Schools in Partnership, is designed to bring together eighth graders from all over the country to connect their experiences and personal stories to ongoing conversations about race, justice, and equity in our society, develop the skills needed for active citizenship, and return back to their schools to share what they have learned as civic ambassadors to their school communities.

High Resolves
The Middle School continues to utilize DEI programming from High Resolves, led by Newman faculty and staff, during Enrichment Blocks. In the first semester, students participated in workshops exploring identity and culture. In the second semester, students participated in workshops about unconscious bias, inclusivity, stereotypes, and the shared genetic history of humanity.
Black History Month
To celebrate Black History Month, students learned about important people and events through Black History in Two Minutes videos. Videos were introduced and shared in each Middle School assembly in February, and advisory groups are also viewing the recordings and creating posters to hang in the hallways and share what they’ve learned with peers.

Black History Month has also been an inspiration for our Middle School Spanish classes. Students participated in a gallery walk featuring posters of influential Black Americans and engaged in a crossword puzzle in Spanish about African American inventors. They then chose a person who especially inspired them to research and present to the class (in Spanish, of course!). Students will also be learning about the Black experience outside of the U.S. in Latin America.
Anti-Defamation League
Middle School students were invited to participate in ADL’s Art and Poetry Contest (as inspiration, Lilly Gorman, a Newman student from last year’s eighth grade class, won the poetry contest for the entire region! You can read her poem here). The contest asked students to both reflect and challenge themselves with the important words of Congressman John Lewis, "Get in good trouble, necessary trouble." You can learn more about the contest here.
Community Engagement
Recognizing that being an inclusive community reaches beyond the walls of our School, Middle School students participated in efforts for our elderly neighbors and those in our city experiencing homelessness. In December, students participated in the “Residents Rock” campaign and donated hand-painting rocks and holiday ornaments to Chateau de Notre Dame and HomeLife in the Gardens. This month, seventh grader Sophia Gomez organized the Happy Feet sock drive for Ozanam Inn.
1903 Jefferson Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70115
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Open 7:45 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
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An independent,
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school in New Orleans for
early childhood through 12th grade