Workshops designed to build a more inclusive community at RE

A nationally recognized diversity trainer held interactive workshops with various Ransom Everglades constituents from Jan. 9-11 with the goal of advancing the school’s mission and values in an ever-changing world. Visiting speaker Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee met separately with students, faculty, leadership team members, trustees, alumni and parents over three days, offering age-appropriate sessions designed to further RE’s long tradition of fostering students’ cultural and character development and sense of identity and community to help them lead productive lives.
Invited to Ransom Everglades by RE’s Director of Inclusion and Community Engagement Wendell Graham ’74, Lee is a longtime educator at the Seattle Girls’ School and former co-chair of the National Association of Independent Schools People of Color Conference who has gained prominence for her work in the areas of outreach, diversity and inclusion, cross cultural competency, identity development, bias and bullying. The sessions that took place over three days on both campuses were designed to make sure every student and visitor feels welcome at Ransom Everglades, and that students have the skills to excel and navigate in the classroom and outside RE.

“It’s so important to expand your minds and practice some skills that will help you to thrive forever,” Lee told sixth-grade students at Swenson Hall before talking with them about how to become better friends and community members.

Lee gave separate presentations to sixth graders; seventh and eighth graders; and high school students. All were highly participatory. Her session with sixth graders was called “No Joke Zones and Pump Ups”; during the workshop, she asked students to think about – and share – comments that made them feel good about themselves – and comments that had the opposite effect. With the older students, she offered a workshop called “Identity, Inclusion and Allyship”; during those sessions, students were asked to stand and then applaud one another as Lee recited a list of many identifying characteristics, from birth order to religious affiliation to country of origin to socioeconomic status and more. She used that exercise to talk about how to build an inclusive community at RE.

She concluded one of the sessions noting that most students had learned the “golden rule”: to treat other people the way you want to be treated. She challenged students, as they grow older and more sophisticated, to implement the “platinum rule” – treating others the way they want to be treated.

With parents, school leaders and faculty, Lee discussed cultural competency, inclusion in the early years, and affinity groups. She also made the moral, academic and economic cases for schools to strive for diversity, equity and inclusion on their campuses, noting that such efforts were mission-aligned and widely beneficial at most independent schools.

“I hope we can applaud each other on a regular basis,” she told upper schoolers at Lewis Family Auditorium, “for being exactly who we are.”
Founded in 1903, Ransom Everglades School is a coeducational, college preparatory day school for grades 6 - 12 located on two campuses in Coconut Grove, Florida. Ransom Everglades School produces graduates who "believe that they are in the world not so much for what they can get out of it as for what they can put into it." The school provides rigorous college preparation that promotes the student's sense of identity, community, personal integrity and values for a productive and satisfying life, and prepares the student to lead and to contribute to society.