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Sage Faculty Reflect on the NAIS People of Color Conference

In late 2023, a dedicated team of Sage educators traveled to St. Louis, Missouri, to attend the NAIS People of Color Conference (PoCC). The conference was founded as a way to create a space for faculty and staff of color, who make up a small portion of the workforce in schools. PoCC empowers individuals to come together and share their experiences, support one another, and network with their peers.

Both long-time and brand-new Sage faculty members represented the school at the 2023 conference. Media Specialist Eunice Swanson, with half a decade of PoCC attendance under her belt, first found herself drawn to the event due to the empowering sense of community it fosters.

“Going to that, seeing a bunch of other women of color talking about their issues—things that came up with them that were similar to things that were happening to me—it was nice to be able to talk to them and have an open, honest conversation with nobody’s feelings being hurt.”

New Sage Teacher Sanjida Elahee, a first-timer to PoCC, instantly sensed that same feeling of belonging when she set foot in the venue.

“I saw so many people of color.  of my same religious identity, and that just made me so overwhelmed that I had tears rolling for a second. I just felt like, ‘this is home for a while.’”

While community-building serves as the foundation for PoCC, both Eunice and Sanjida also highlighted the valuable professional development opportunities available at the event. A school visit to the nearby John Burroughs School inspired them to contemplate ways Sage could enhance the affinity group Sage offers its students.

Eunice also took away valuable insights from Gholdy Muhammad, author of “Unearthing Joy” and professor who studies Black historical excellence in education, who encouraged attendees to find their joy.

“I think [Gholdy] was trying to get people to realize that there’s joy in something small that you do. You need to take that and be happy with that. Instead of trying to find this big thing that makes the day great, you can find just one little thing during the day.”  

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