Woodland’s mission calls for students to develop a strength of voice to follow their hearts and make a difference. This can be observed in a wide variety of ways from kindergarten presentations at morning assembly to capstone projects that highlight complex issues related to diversity, equity inclusion, and justice.
DEIJ work at the middle school level is led by S.W.A.G. (Student Woodland Advocacy Group) in collaboration with teachers and administrators. The goal of S.W.A.G. is to ensure that Woodland is an inclusive space where everyone feels a sense of belonging. Throughout the year, S.W.A.G. has conducted surveys of the student community, presented at assemblies to highlight various topics including using inclusive language and correct pronoun usage, and planned an event for students to mobilize and take action around a topic of interest.
One of the focal points of our school community is diversity and inclusion. First grade students read the book "All Are Welcome," which introduces the idea of making our school community open to all races, religions, and backgrounds. As a class they completed a guided meditation, picturing a welcoming place. Who is there? What do you see? From these ideas, the "All Are Welcome" mural was born, which includes a variety of birds, both realistic and imaginary. The birds represent a community that welcomes individuals from all walks of life. In the spirit of inclusion, this project stretched across the entire 1st grade class and includes contributions from each student.
Eighth grade students brainstormed ideas for developing a mural that represents the Woodland community. They noted that recent events across the country and throughout the world remind us that we must learn and teach each other about the importance of fostering diversity and promoting inclusivity. They understand that at Woodland we respect and appreciate the differences among us, whether that be race, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, education or national origin. We welcome everyone with kindness and an open heart, as reflected in the artwork they designed.
The Day of Silence was an event that began in 1996 as a way for students to bring attention to the harassment and silencing of LGBTQIA+ students across the country. S.W.A.G. adopted this day as a way to advocate for LGBTQIA+ students across the country and stand with our own middle school students who are part of the community. Students began by formulating a plan for how to take action and hold up the cause without being disruptive so that the focus of the day remained on our social justice objective, meaning that the vow of silence would be accompanied by whiteboards so that students could still communicate. S.W.A.G. also put together a rally to "Break the Silence" at the end of the day in order to join in community with students across the middle school under the theme, "I am who I am and I am enough." S.W.A.G. was able to garner support from 44 middle school students who participated in the Day of Silence and rally in order to support LGBTQIA+ students at Woodland and throughout the United States.
Striving to be both thoughtful and responsive to the time we face in history, the Middle School Humanities Team collaborated to bring learning opportunities to our classrooms regarding the invasion of Ukraine. Collectively, they brought literature and history to their students, highlighting how people have used various forms of expression in times of war. With intention and purpose,they wanted to provide students a space to gather as a community, in solidarity over the desire for peace. Together, they organized a rally where students created posters calling for peace, recited poetry, read inspirational quotes, sang unifying songs, and shared research for how to contribute to international peace efforts. Middle School students modeled community leadership for Lower School students who were attentive audience members at the rally. The reach of the rally extended to Lower School classrooms where teachers utilized morning meetings to engage our younger learners about activism, peace, and community.