The Anti-Bias/Anti-Racist Workgroup (ABAR Workgroup) is a team of staff and faculty who are committed to supporting members of of MSN’s community to develop the skills needed to educate and empower ALL students, families, and MSN community members. The ABAR Workgroup is dedicated to furthering staff development by sharing relevant resources, facilitating and participating in conversations during staff meetings and curriculum days, organizing all school events, and creating a safe space for courageous conversations about bias, race, and social justice. The ABAR Workgroup works in parallel to and conjunction with the Board Diversity Committee.
In June of 2016, several members of MSN’s community attended the third annual Montessori for Social Justice conference in Cambridge, MA. This group included staff, parents and Board members. Seven of these members were inspired to continue their personal and collective growth, and to bring what they learned home to MSN. They formed a workgroup to achieve that goal.
Below is a list of the major events the ABAR Workgroup and MSN have hosted, thanks to the support of grants and private donations.
February 2017–Hosted Crossroads Anti-Racism Organizing and Training for the same one day “Introduction to Systemic Racism” that first inspired the work group. Forty percent (40%) of the total participants were MSN Staff, Board or Community. The remainder included other Montessorians and, notably, the Superintendent of Northampton Public Schools.
June 2018–Invited Dr. Barbara J. Love for a staff development day focused on emotional well-being during social justice work and microaggressions. Dr. Love is Professor Emerita of Social Justice Education at UMASS Amherst and a nationally renowned social justice educator and trainer. For more information on Dr. Love, please follow this link: http://www.barbarajlove.com/about-us
August 2018–Hosted Crossroads again for the two-and-a-half-day intensive, “Analyzing and Understanding Systemic Racism.” Fifty percent (50%) of attendees were MSN Staff, Board or Community. The remainder once again included other Montessorians and, notably, a number of staff from Northampton Public Schools. After completing the two-and-a-half-day workshop, MSN is now eligible for additional in-depth workshops on creating anti-bias curriculum and policies. For more information about Crossroads, please follow this link: http://crossroadsantiracism.org/about-us/
Look for an explanation of the Goals of Anti-Bias Education in the next Parking Lot Press! In the meantime, please feel free to email abar@northamptonmontessori.org with questions or comments. We are a whole-school community and invite all who are interested to engage with us.