Mission
Pollyanna creates discussion platforms for groups of people to explore issues of diversity, equity and inclusion;
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.

Welcome from Casper Caldarola
Founder
August 2018
Greetings!
“Often when you think you're at the end of something, you're at the beginning of something else."
~ Fred Rogers
 
These words would be inspiring any day, but today they mean even more. Yesterday was my last day at Allen-Stevenson after working there for 18 years. This decision was made with mixed emotions, as I will miss the work and I will miss the people more. I also have another major change closer to home. My son, Zach, who recently graduated from college, is moving to California today to work at Facebook. As proud as I am…and I am, having him 3000 miles away will be another major adjustment.
 
In addition to those changes, I am very excited to have the opportunity to now focus my full attention on Pollyanna and our continued growth. You may have heard we are:
  • looking for schools to test our new K-8 Racial Literacy Curriculum
  • offering a new conference model that is for one school’s constituent members to come together to address potential strategic planning initiatives, assess mission statements, focus on community building, etc.
  • developing follow-up initiatives to the internal conference to embed DEI work at schools
  • increasing the schools in the Pollyanna family
  • adding five new Board Members who bring a great deal of knowledge, passion and commitment to our work (click here for bios and see photos below)
 
In the middle of all this change, I saw the very touching and nostalgic documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Fred Rogers was magical and his care and concern for the well being of children was profound. The concept of hope was obviously important to Mr. Rogers, who helped children see past the frightening things they are confronting and focus on the good that may be coming down the road.
 
I leave you with all good wishes for the rest of the summer and keep your focus on the good coming. We may be in the midst of uncertain times, so please consider hosting or attending a Pollyanna Conference, joining those who support Pollyanna's initiatives, participating in a march and voting in the midterms!

Warmly,
Rena Andoh, Ryan Ewers, Erica Pettis, Ashley Smyth and Marjorie Van Dercook
Q&A - Interview with Morgan Darby
Director of Student Life and Inclusion, The Children's School
Please describe the process of working with Pollyanna to plan your November 2018 conference?
The process was laid out through a series of open conversations where our school talked with Pollyanna about diversity, equity and inclusion issues. One thing that really drove the process was recognizing that we’re a school in the South, and are cognizant of the ways these conversations are rooted in a progressive education tradition, pride and culture. To be most inclusive and also to be authentic, we need to be mindful of how we roll out a conference that’s going to engage a variety of schools in conversation. Our goal is to have 10 schools convene in November, and to have representations from people who’ve participated in the host committee for the NAIS People of Color Conference, which was here in Atlanta just two years ago. The rollout was really intentional in seeing who’s most likely and most apt to participate, and to engage in these conversations and this work.
 
How did you decide the conference’s theme and title:  
My Authentic Self: The Intersection of Race and Gender in Middle School?
What’s important to our school community is to engage in dialogues that are genuine and that are speaking from your own truth and being open civil discourse even when it’s difficult. We want folks to be able to be true to how they’re communicating and showing up, and to be present and engaged. Keying into some strategies and approaches for authentic dialogue or for constructive listening could be really helpful for folks, and hopefully the theme of "my authentic self" will really engender that. Interrupting folks or dismissing someone’s story, not believing them or minimizing: that’s what we want to avoid. We also want to name those are things that happen, particularly around conversations about race and gender. I think that’s going to be one of the main areas where we want to allow for dialogue, and then think about some applications when they go back to their schools.

What has the response been from invited schools?
I’ve been picking up the phone and having conversations with diversity directors, deans of student life and principles and sharing our vision for this conference. My hope is that the schools coming to the conference are picking community members who are really hungry to engage in this work at their schools, whether they’re students or board members or parents. They can really engender some impassioned dialogue and also some forward-leaning dialogue so students are engaging in healthy conversation about who they are as well as being supported at their schools, particularly along lines of race and gender. It’s important to create brave spaces for adults to engage in conversations with young people so that they know what to do in situations or who to turn to.

What do you hope The Children’s School gains from hosting a Pollyanna Conference?
I think TCS will have an opportunity to be a place where people can share who they are without pretenses. I think you can do that in respectful, civil ways, and I think our school will lead to that platform easily because we do that in so many ways already. I think this will create a stronger image and it will be backed by the people who show up and help volunteer. I imagine that folks will really be surprised that there’s a community that wants to be in solidarity with a wide variety of identities and have critical conversations, and we’re not afraid to do that.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?
As a school in the South and as someone who grew up in Kentucky, I’m pretty excited that a school like this in Atlanta, Georgia exists. I was so blown away. I wonder if folks around the country know that schools like this exist and that partner schools like this exist. There are some amazing folks down here that often don’t get the light shined on the work that’s happening, so continue to keep your eyes and ears open for what’s happening here in the South. We’re excited to be a part of it. 
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
Town School for Boys in San Francisco, CA
Vermont Academy in Saxtons River, VT
The Wheeler School in Providence, RI
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Pollyanna, Inc. is a New York not-for-profit corporation 501(c)(3). © 2018 Pollyanna.

Sarah Waltcher: interview | Louisa Wells: Design