Diversity, Inclusion, and Learning Differences at the Carroll School

The Carroll School is an independent school in Massachusetts dedicated to serving and educating children with language-based learning differences, such as dyslexia. Their mission is to empower young people with learning differences so they can excel in their educations and in their lives.

With more than 400 students, the Carroll School enrolls a diverse student body from across the region. Striving to achieve a balance of inclusion, connection, and empowerment alongside educational excellence led the School leadership to contact Essential Partners.

Intersectional Understandings

“We wanted to open up the conversation,” said Osamagbe Osagie, Director of Equity and Inclusion, “to talk about how the students’ learning differences intersect with the differences of identity and history that exist among them.”

Essential Partners led two trainings for 200 staff and faculty, investing them with tools to engage in deeper, more meaningful conversations across difference.

Senior administrators and educational leaders then collaborated with two Essential Partners associates, working to understand the dynamics of racial difference at the Carroll School. They co-created a plan to foster a more inviting, inclusive community culture.

That same senior team facilitated a dialogue about the book You Can’t Teach What You Don’t Know among all 200 staff and teachers. Then the staff and faculty met again for a dialogue about race and racial differences, facilitated by the same senior team plus twelve additional staff members.

“Essential Partners gave us tools to talk about race in a way that’s brave and authentic,” said Osagie.

Tangible Results

These institution-wide dialogues about race and identity have resonated throughout the school.

It led, for example, to a review of syllabi and bibliographies, to ensure that students are able to recognize themselves in the texts and lessons while also getting a glimpse into different identities and histories. Math and science curricula now intentionally foreground women and non-European thinkers. History classes have integrated more non-Eurocentric lessons as well.

These changes to that curriculum offer opportunities to tackle intersectional differences head-on with dialogue.

“The students have been able to broaden their own understanding of themselves,” said Osagie. “We want them to embrace and share all their lived experiences, and not be defined solely by their learning differences.”

Outside the classroom, instructors have begun using dialogue tools with one another. They’ve implemented dialogic structures and norms in peer support and advisory scenarios.

Across the Carroll School, teachers and administrators have been able to use Essential Partners’ dialogue skills to navigate complex differences in a way that fosters trust, understanding, and cohesion.


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