By Elaine Loft
Four members of the Derryfield faculty and staff traveled to St. Louis in late November to attend the annual People of Color Conference (PoCC), sponsored by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). The theme of the conference was “Gateways to Freedom: A Confluence of Truth, Knowledge, Power and Joy.”
Nearly 8,000 participants from every state engaged with one another during three full days of general sessions, workshops, and special events. Featured speakers included author and professor Dr. Gholdy Muhammad, educator and author Dr. Liza Talusan (who presented at Derryfield in 2020 and 2021), filmmaker Lacey Schwartz Delgado, JD, activist and educator Brittany Packnett Cunningham, author and professor Dr. Christopher Emdin, and educators, musicians and activists Sonny Singh and Simon Tam.
Anela Kruščica, Director of Equity and Belonging, Gillian Roberts, Dean of Students, Caroline Murphy, history department chair, and Courtney Belanger, world language department represented Derryfield at the conference. With nearly 160 seminars and workshops on offer, the Derryfield team each pursued different tracks, and shared out what they learned at the conclusion of each day.
For Kruščica, one of the most rewarding aspects of the conference was seeing so many student attendees. On the final day, the students reported out to the adults, by region. Kruščica was also inspired by Dr. Gholdy Muhammad, who opened the general session with the idea that “every student is a genius,” and encouraged educators to unlock the potential within their students.
To carry the energy and education beyond the halls of the conference, each year the PoCC Planning Committee develops a Community Engagement initiative to leverage the power of the conference beyond the presence of the event. This year, the committee is developing an Upper School/Lower School Mentorship Program and Curriculum Guide.