Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

When students are eager to learn, they understand that our differences are just as important as our similarities.

Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Rippowam Cisqua School embraces and seeks the opportunity to engage meaningfully and purposefully with issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We recognize the common humanity of all people and teach understanding and respect for the differences among us. From the age-appropriate exploration of one’s own self-defining characteristics to the examination of topics and materials that contrast personal worldviews, Rippowam Cisqua School is committed to challenging each child and adult to foster greater empathy, understanding, and appreciation for their fellow humans.

As a school focused on the pursuit of joyous and enlightened learning, we believe in honoring every member of our community as both valued and essential to our collective growth. Cultural awareness is an essential component of an education that prepares our students for the global society in which they live, and we strive to graduate individuals who seek intellectual and personal connections with people of different backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives in the pursuit of the greater goal of making our society more empathetic, equitable, and just.

How We Support Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The RCS community finds exponential value in bringing families together of diverse geographic, economic, and educational backgrounds, cultures, abilities, and beliefs. Every day we work to ensure that all children feel welcomed, cared for, and respected as unique individuals capable of anything to which they aspire. Then, we give them the tools and support to succeed along the way. Here are a few ways in which faculty and students strive for diversity, equity, and inclusion at RCS.

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  • Guest Speakers

    Throughout the year, we invite guest speakers to provide insight and perspective to our students, faculty, and the broader community. 

    Dr. Mykee Fowlin: Psychologist, Performer, and Poet

    Dr. Mykee Fowlin returned to RCS to talk about the value of promoting inclusive communities and celebrating unseen differences in individuals. Dr. Fowlin’s programs combine both his professional acting talents and his psychological training, which he uses in pursuit of his mission to create an atmosphere of worldwide inclusion, not just tolerance, of all people.

    The Anti-Defamation League: Fighting Hate for Good

    The Anti-Defamation League led interactive workshops with our seventh and eighth-graders as part of their A World of Difference program. The Institute's programs and resources are designed to help students:

    • recognize bias and the harm it inflicts on individuals and society
    • build understanding of the value and benefits of diversity
    • improve intergroup relations
    • confront racism, anti-Semitism and all other forms of bigotry
  • Student Experiences

    With a culturally rich curriculum, students are exposed to a variety of perspectives through academics, Learning Immersion Days, co-curriculars, Allied Arts, guest speakers, C.A.F.E. (Cultural Awareness for Everyone), and our widely acclaimed Visiting Artists Series.  

    Building Lasting Connections

    Eighth-grade students from RCS and Memorial High School in West New York, New Jersey read The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas. After completing the novel, they met to discuss the book and their different life experiences. Given the vast difference in economic and racial backgrounds between the students, it was a unique opportunity to share perspectives and open dialogue about real-world topics.

    Student Perspectives

    “The students from Memorial High came into the discussion and immediately joined in and shared their story, their perspective, and how they related to it. I thought that was really brave of them because I was even hesitant about sharing even in my own environment surrounded by people I know. The people in my group were awesome.” --Student ‘20

    “I have enjoyed learning about a completely different community, events that occur, and the reactions that people have to these events. I think it’s necessary to read these types of books; it’s good to broaden your understanding and to dip into pools of discomfort. Hopefully, you benefit and create an understanding of these things that you may otherwise have not experienced.” --Student ‘20
  • Professional Development

    Members of the Diversity Committee, as well as faculty and staff, attend a series of conferences and workshops to receive training and development on diversity, equity, and inclusion. These include:

    • Dalton Diversity Conference
    • Diversity Leadership Institute
    • Diversity Practitioners Conference
    • Holocaust and Human Behavior
    • NYSAIS Diversity Conference
    • People of Color Conference
    • The Knapsack Institute
    • Transgender Training of Trainers
    • White Privilege Symposium 

    Additionally, all faculty and staff engaged in a day-long workshop with Dr. Eli Green, founder of the Transgender Training Institute.
  • Faculty Workshops

    Three times per year, the entire faculty, staff, and administration engage in interactive workshops that help RCS educators develop meaningful and beneficial ways to teach students with various needs and backgrounds. The RCS team works together to remove barriers to academic achievement, enrich the community experience, and develop stronger bonds among the students and their peers.

    • 5-10-15 Minute Diversity and Inclusion Activities
    • Children and Identity through Explicit Classroom Discussion and Literature
    • Classroom Diversity and Inclusive Teaching
    • Connecting with Kids is Easy, but...
    • DEI Strategies
    • Discover Teaching Tolerance: A Guided (and Practical) Tour
    • Gender and Sexuality: How to Support the Students Who Might Not Know They Need It
    • Identity and Intersectionality: The Impacts of the Lenses We Wear
    • Identity Cards: Who Am I? 
    • Microaggressions and Ask An Informal (Ignorant) Question
    • The Value of a Socio-Economically Diverse School Environment
    • Transgender 101: Understanding the Basics of Language, Affirmation, and How to Support Non-Binary and Genderqueer Students
    These workshops are led by the RCS Diversity Committee. Download descriptions of each workshop here. 
  • Faculty Book Clubs

    The faculty book club was created in 2018 to facilitate difficult conversations and to cultivate deeper understanding with respect to cultural identifiers. 

    We have read the following books:

    • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehishi Coates  
    • Real American by Julie Lythcott-Haims 
    • George by Alex Gino
    • Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
    • New Kid by Jerry Craft

Summer Community Read

One of the hallmarks of Rippowam Cisqua School is the strength of our community, our connections to one another, and our commitment to strong relationships within our community and amongst the greater community. Through reading and the discussion of literature, empathy can be fostered, connections can be deepened, and understanding can be created and cultivated. It is essential that RCS continue to educate and to be educated about issues of social justice, and as such, RCS is excited to offer a voluntary summer community read experience with a focus on just that. 
We are offering a few different titles to select from with the goal of engaging readers of all levels, from our youngest students to our oldest, and for parents and teachers as well. Reading levels are recommended, but not a rule. Some families may choose to read one of the selections together, which might help younger readers with comprehension of difficult content or language, and some families may choose another title simply because they are interested!

Our goal is to offer the opportunity to come together in September to discuss these wonderful books, to forge connections with one another, and to deepen our understanding of what it means to live in and engage fully in our world. Social justice has always been and always will be an essential aspect of life in our increasingly global society, and by engaging in rich and challenging conversations such as the ones we will host in the fall we can make RCS a stronger, more inclusive community. 
Additionally, if you plan to participate in the community read experience, we encourage you to consider purchasing your books from independent bookstores owned and operated by people of color. Here are four resources to begin your search: 22 Black-Owned Bookstores to Support NowBlack Owned Bookstores To Support Right Now By State★ A List Black Owned, Independent, Book Stores, and You can order today from these black-owned independent bookstores.

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  • JPK, SPK, and Kindergarten Community Read

    The book we have selected for our JPK, SPK, and Kindergarten readers is Alexandra Penfold’s All Are Welcome, a picture book that celebrates diversity in a school environment where students learn from each other and about themselves. 
  • Grades 1-3 Community Read

    For our students in Grades 1-3, we have selected Evelyn Coleman’s White Socks Only, a picture book with sophisticated concepts and a storyline that recounts a young African-American girl’s grandmother’s tale of approaching and drinking from a water fountain labeled ‘Whites Only.’ 
  • Grades 4-6 Community Read

    Students in Grades 4-6 will have the opportunity to read Child of the Dream: A Memoir of 1963 by Sharon Robinson, daughter of baseball legend Jackie Robinson. Sharon feels isolated, as she is one of the few Black children in her wealthy Connecticut neighborhood. She struggles to discover what her role will be in the Civil Rights Movement occurring around her, but ultimately finds her voice in the fight for equality and justice.
  • Grades 7-9 Community Read

    Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy will be the read for students in Grades 7-9 and adults. This book has two published versions – one geared toward students in Grades 7 and up, and one geared toward older adolescents and adults. Stevenson is the Executive Director and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, and Just Mercy is the story of his work with Walter McMillian, a young black man wrongly sentenced to die for a murder he did not commit. This novel explores the roots and current manifestations of systemic racism, issues of inequity in the United States justice system, and how mass incarceration and excessive punishment disproportionately impact the most vulnerable people in America. The Young Adult adaptation of the novel can be found here, and the original publication of Just Mercy can be found here. Additionally, in 2019, Just Mercy was adapted into a film. 


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Meet the Diversity Coordinators

List of 6 members.

  • Photo of Ridley Sperling

    Ridley Sperling 

    Director of Secondary School Placement; Director of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion; Co-Director Caps
  • Photo of Christy Glynn

    Christy Glynn 

    Grade 5 Teacher, Lower School DEI Coordinator
  • Photo of Sara Malekzadeh

    Sara Malekzadeh 

    Art Teacher, Lower School DEI Coordinator
  • Photo of Marie Pena

    Marie Pena 

    English Teacher, Grade 8 Dean, Upper School DEI Coordinator
  • Photo of Kathy Perry

    Kathy Perry 

    Spanish Teacher, Upper School DEI Coordinator
  • Photo of Nicole Putorti

    Nicole Putorti 

    PK Teacher, Early Childhood DEI Coordinator
Rippowam Cisqua School
439 Cantitoe Street 
Bedford, NY 10506
phone: (914) 244-1250
Rippowam Cisqua School is a PreK-Grade 9 independent day school in Westchester County, New York. RCS offers challenging academics built on innovation, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, wellness, leadership, service learning, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.
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