Pollyanna creates discussion platforms for groups of people to explore issues of diversity, inclusion and equity;
and to share experiences and knowledge. We believe in being eternally optimistic even in the face of challenge. Pollyanna exists to be part of the solution.

February 2018
Welcome from Casper Caldarola
In mid-January, my son and I were very fortunate to attend an interview with President Barack Obama. There was no greater gift that I could have given us! I always say that if I’m going to leave my home at night to hear a speaker or attend an event, there are high expectations and I hope to come away with some wise nuggets. I knew an evening with President Obama would offer many wise words and he did not disappoint. Toward the end of the evening, he was asked, “What can we do to move forward this year?” The following was his response:
“Be kind, be useful and be a little fearless.”
I can’t think of a better way to kick off 2018 than with those words to guide. I wake up each morning and they are among my first thoughts. I wonder how and where I will "be" each that day. Truth be told, being a little fearless is my favorite, and Pollyanna allows me to be just that. Since the January newsletter, we welcomed a new school to the family: Wheeler in Rhode Island. We are also excited to welcome a new Project Manager to the Pollyanna team, Claire Hannan-Radomisli . Our slow and steady growth is moving faster than anticipated.

In addition to being a little fearless, I read a lot, and 2018 as offered plenty of materials. Thought you might find some of what I've been reading of interest. Please email me any comments or other resources you'd like me to read and pass along.

February promises to be an exciting month for Pollyanna and I hope it is for you too!

With warm regards,
Pollyanna Family
Contact us to join the growing list of Schools in our family.

 The Children's School in Atlanta, GA
The Dalton School in New York, NY
Far Brook School in Short Hills, NJ
Francis W. Parker in Chicago, IL
Francis Parker in San Diego, CA
Harvard-Westlake in Los Angeles, CA
New City School in St. Louis, MO
Providence Day School in Charlotte, NC
Vermont Academy in Saxtons River, VT
NEW: The Wheeler School in Providence, RI
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Q&A with Mikki Murphy
Director of Diversity, Equity & Community at Far Brook
How do you think Far Brook has benefited from hosting the Pollyanna conferences?
It has been a tremendous experience! We feel so honored to have been asked to host. When we first considered it we thought briefly we might only offer the conference to other K-8 schools, but decided to open it up to all the independent schools in the area instead. This has been hugely beneficial in building relationships with diversity practitioners at local schools, and we find that having high school student voices is essential. We’ve also clearly put a stake in the ground as leaders in championing diversity. The conference helped us redouble our own efforts and commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity internally. It is now a part of who we are, and has given us permission to delve more deeply.

I can’t say enough about the format of conference. The idea is genius! I can surely see it spreading throughout the country…and we feel honored to be a host school.
How did you decide on the topic of LGBTQ+ for your second conference?
At Far Brook, we understand and celebrate that diversity is a broad term and covers many identities. Over a number of years and through other vehicles we have talked about race. We felt that we hadn’t spent as much time on other aspects of diversity, so here was our chance. Our Conference Co-Chairs determined that we would focus the conference on LGBTQ+ inclusion. Before embarking on organizing this year’s conference, the faculty read a series of papers titled “Queering Education.” This in-depth study helped guide us in our discussions. We feel that as a school it is our responsibility to our families and community to create a means and a safe space for these conversations. Our Co-Chairs invited a psychologist in to talk to the conference committee, leaving us to realize we still had a lot to learn. The psychologist worked with us throughout the conference, helping us to frame it, as well as to understand the breadth of the topic and those that were related. 
Can you explain how your bank came to be a conference sponsor?
In collaboration with our Head of School, Director of Business and Finance, and the Director of Development, who is also a conference committee member, we knew that our bank was open to opportunities to sponsor an event at Far Brook. We wanted something consistent with our mission, but understood that this was a different type of event than many banks typically sponsor. While the conference itself is self-sustaining, to get a speaker of a known name, such as Charles Blow, requires additional funding, so we proposed the idea of being a sponsor to them. They were thrilled with the idea because they have relationships with many of the schools that participate in the conference, and also because it gave them a chance to demonstrate their own commitment to diversity.. 

How has the conference impacted your overall diversity goals at Far Brook?
In many ways. Out of the first conference, my position of Director of Diversity, Equity, and Community was created. The recognition of the need for more focus and resources dedicated to equity and inclusion is definitely an outgrowth of the conference. Another is the encouragement to create vehicles for our students to talk about these topics and how they impact their Far Brook experience. Far Brook doesn’t have a student government and while we had Spectrum, a social justice discussion group for students after school, as well as Advisory Groups, there really wasn’t a good mechanism for discussion and input around topics of diversity. We are still working on this but we have a better understanding of the importance of student voices. We have recently incorporated affinity group lunches for students, with faculty hosts. We are creating a safe space for seventh and eighth graders to discuss gender and sexuality. In general, all of our classes are integrating LGBTQ narratives more intentionally since we hosted the second conference. Everyone feels more empowered. One particular highlight happened at our daily morning meeting, when we meet as a whole school, grades K through 8. We read, “I am Jazz” as part of a national read-in. It is the story of Jazz Jennings, a transgender girl who has become an activist. That was a special day and may not have happened without the work we did leading up to and during the conference. So many possibilities have opened up!
Photo taken at Harvard-Westlake's Conference
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2017 Newsletters: October, November , December
2018 Newsletter: January
Pollyanna, Inc. is a New York not-for-profit corporation 501(c)(3). © 2018 Pollyanna.

Sarah Woods: Writer of interview | Louisa Wells: Newsletter Designer