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


Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

Black History Month Quilt Project

Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Community Read: Being Heumann and Rolling Warrior

Statement on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

Rippowam Cisqua School embraces and seeks the opportunity to engage meaningfully and purposefully with issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. 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, Inclusion, and Belonging

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, inclusion, and belonging at RCS.

List of 5 items.

  • 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

    Lower School

    Community Partners

    Community Partners is a monthly gathering of all Lower Schoolers, during which small groups of students, faculty, and staff meet to create community and a sense of belonging. Activities alternate between those that build connections at school, like creating a wall of favorite and unique Thanksgiving foods, and those that celebrate diversity, like discussing how we might welcome someone to our school who is blind and then learning to write our names in Braille. Groups are arranged purposefully with children across grade levels so that students create strong, multi-age bonds, resulting in ebullient greetings by the youngest members as they see their new friends in the halls and on the playground. Most importantly, groups are arranged so that each child has other students with whom they share a commonality. This mirror could be race, visible or invisible disability, similarity in family structure, hometown, etc. The pairings are deliberate and yet not explained, so that throughout the year, there are so many wonderful moments of discovery. We have students who have bonded over a recent divorce, being a twin, having a parent who was born in the same part of the world, and languages spoken at home. Amidst these connections, unexpected bonds are formed over details that are most important to young children - having the same favorite color or the same kind of dog. Community Partners offers yet another space for kids to be themselves and to find others with whom they can connect. It is an important part of the strong fabric that makes our Lower School a place of belonging and joy.

    Upper School
    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 DEIB Team, as well as faculty and staff, have attended a series of conferences and workshops to receive training and development on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.These include, but are not limited to:

    • 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 Institute
    • White Privilege Symposium 
    • IDSJ (Institute for Teaching Diversity and Social Justice)
    • NYSAIS Global Language and Culture Conference 
    • Freedom Rising 
    • Facing History and Ourselves
    • “But You're Wrong” – Strategies to lead and discuss challenging conversations
    • Afro-Latinos and Hair: An Identity Journey of the Past, the Present, and the Future
    • Gender-Inclusive Language in the World Language Classroom
    • The Color of Language - Centering the Student of Color in World Language Acquisition
    • Pollyanna, Inc.
    • BookFest at Bank Street
  • 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 DEIB Team.
  • 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
    • The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
    • We Move Together by Ann McGuire and Kelly Fritsch
    • Rolling Warrior: The Incredible, Sometimes Awkward, True Story of a Rebel Girl on Wheels Who Helped Spark a Revolution by Judith Heumann and Kristen Joiner
    • Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist by Judith Heumann and Kristen Joiner

Meet the Team

List of 5 members.

  • Photo of Ridley Sperling

    Ridley Sperling 

    Director of Secondary School Placement, Co-Director of DEIB
  • Photo of Marie Pena

    Marie Pena 

    Co-Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging; English Teacher
  • Photo of Christy Glynn

    Christy Glynn 

    Grade 5 Teacher
  • Photo of Kathy Perry

    Kathy Perry 

    Spanish Teacher; DEIB Coordinator
  • Photo of Nicole Putorti

    Nicole Putorti 

    PK Teacher
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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