November 2001

Dear NYSAIS School:

The NYSAIS Diversity Committee would like to extend our sympathy to all those who have been affected, directly or indirectly, by the events of September 11. We also want to keep you up to date on our work over the last several weeks. As we have been planning for the annual Diversity Conference, this year scheduled for Friday, April 26, 2002, we have been asking ourselves how the events of September 11 impact what we do. Clearly there is a greater need than ever for tolerance and understanding of people who are different from us. This is especially important in a pluralistic society where our common bonds are not racial, ethnic, or religious, but arise out of a shared commitment to the ideals enumerated in the Declaration of Independence and guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. In a climate where intolerance and insensitivity have found new voice, it is critical that we remain vigilant and employ the lessons we have learned in our many years of working together to serve our students, who increasingly come from a wide variety of backgrounds.

As with all our work in diversity, we know that information and knowledge can be the most powerful tool that educators have in working effectively with students. We know that many of you have already been working to educate your students about the issues directly relating to September 11, including teach-ins and special programs to inform your communities about Islam, the Middle East, U.S. foreign policy, and myriad related topics. NYSAIS sponsored a well attended and highly informative presentation called "Why September 11," which many of our fellow educators found extremely helpful. The NYSAIS Diversity Committee hopes to continue to provide member schools with information and resources we have found to be particularly helpful or suitable for use in our schools. Please go to http://www.NYSAIS.org to find a list of Web Site links and other resources that have been especially chosen for their relevance to, and appropriateness for, the work we do. The list is not intended to be exhaustive but principally to provide some immediate suggestions about how schools can address and continue to address issues of diversity in this complex time. Schools which have found materials they would like to share are encouraged to forward their suggestions to Barbara Swanson at NYSAIS; she will make them available on the NYSAIS Web Site.
The NYSAIS Diversity Committee hopes that you will continue to see us as a place to turn for information and support in these challenging times. We see our role as increasingly vital and strive to bring you resources that may help you in your own efforts to build strong communities, where differences are valued and celebrated. Certainly in drawing on the rich diversity of our environments to create unified learning communities, our schools model the United States motto: E Pluribus Unum.

Sincerely,

The NYSAIS Diversity Committee

Hugo Mahabir, Fieldston School    , Co-Chair
Carol O'Donnell, Manhattan Country School, Co-Chair
Richard Marotta, Garden School, NYSAIS Board Liason

Kelvina Butcher, Dalton School
Linda Chu, Friends Seminary
Maureen Fonseca, The Masters School
Arlene Gibson, Spence School
Delia Hernandez, Little Red/Elisabeth Irwin HS
Rudy Jordan, Bank Street School for Children
Annette Liberson, Interschool
Marsha Nelson, Trinity School
Kolia O'Connor, The Browning School
Erik Resurreccion, Allen-Stevenson School
Cheryl Scott-Mouzon, Horace Mann School

Barbara Swanson, NYSAIS, Ex Officio
Fred Calder, NYSAIS, Ex Officio
Gordon Clem, Ex Officio

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