Brooklyn private independent school

Diversity & Inclusion at Berkeley Carroll

brooklyn diverse school

An area of focus at Berkeley Carroll is creating an environment that is not only diverse, but inclusive, so every member of the community feels respected, valued and that they belong as an equal. This means approaching diversity and inclusion with a multi-pronged strategy encompassing academics, admissions, financial aid, student life, family support, faculty and staff hiring and accessibility to the school.

“What we need—as a community, as a culture, as a society—is constantly evolving,” Director of Community and Inclusion Brandie Melendez said. “We have to work harder and dive deeper to have challenging conversations.”

Integrating diversity and inclusion as cornerstones of a Berkeley Carroll education means incorporating them into the daily life of the school not simply discussing them at special events as a one-off topic. They should be an ordinary, familiar part of life at Berkeley Carroll for every member of the community.

Diversity Mission Statement

As an inclusive community, Berkeley Carroll honors the dignity of all people. In our culture and our program, we embrace and respect differences.These include age, ethnicity, family structure, gender, learning style, physical ability, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic class.

We believe in teaching and learning about these issues, even when the conversations are difficult. Our commitment to diversity is one expression of the mission of our school. We want to help students understand the complexity of a constantly changing world. The confidence and ability to engage respectfully with others is a signature of a Berkeley Carroll education.

Diversity in Admissions

Berkeley Carroll's student body is representative of a wide range of backgrounds. In addition to community outreach by the Admissions Office, the school works with organizations such as Prep for Prep, The Oliver Program, The TEAK Fellowship, Boys’ Club NYC, and The Breakthrough Collaborative to enroll students who will further add to our economically and racially diverse community.

Diversity in the Lower School

In the Lower School, it is our hope that our students should never feel that they need to leave any significant part of themselves behind when stepping through the door and becoming part of the community. With that in mind, we follow the Responsive Classroom (RC) approach, which promotes the idea that the social emotional curriculum is as important as the academic. RC helps children learn to cooperate with one another, to assert themselves appropriately in academic and social situations, to be responsible, and to develop empathy and self-control. Each teacher is trained in using particular language to foster children’s positive self image and growth. This approach creates a warm, nurturing environment where expectations are consistent and clear and students learn to be kind, honest, and respectful toward one another.

Beginning in PreK, students learn about what it means to be a member of a diverse community. Through a selection of purposefully chosen literature and many conversations and activities, students are exposed to different aspects of diversity throughout their years in Lower School. Curricular topics are shared in each grade with intentionality so children see not only themselves and their families, but the diverse population of the neighborhood and city represented in their studies, in classroom materials, and on classroom walls. Racial and ethnic identity, gender expression, sexuality, family structure and other topics are highlighted and celebrated as we encourage children to understand the world around them. Students explore ideas around social justice and equity and are empowered to affect change through a variety of service learning projects.

Our health and human sexuality curriculum, which also begins in PreK, helps our students develop age-appropriate understanding of and respect for sexuality and gender related topics. Through their work in science classes and the classroom, children gain an understanding of differences and similarities in the physical characteristics of bodies and how and why bodies function as they do and change as they get older. Students learn scientifically accurate vocabulary for anatomy (including sex-specific body parts) as they learn about body systems. Children are given opportunities to explore their own personal identity and come to recognize and respect the identity of other individuals and families.

Diversity in the Middle School

The Middle School integrates the theme of diversity and inclusion throughout all courses -- from the hard sciences to humanities, Spanish and the arts -- to help students prepare for citizenship in a global, multicultural society.

Faculty treat each student as an individual, respecting each for who (s)he is. They encourage students to develop a clear sense of identity, justice, and appreciation for cultures different than their own, as well as an understanding of how they might create change in the world.

In Humanities, a required 4-year Middle School course, students examine issues of race, identity, and social justice, as well as examining how socio-economic class, gender and sexuality affect the lives of individuals.

History projects and topics are designed to explore underlying power structures and ways in which individuals and groups have managed to overcome obstacles to create social justice. 7th graders focus on American history and the institution of slavery with its long-lasting legacy. They also study the role of the justice system in maintaining and depriving citizens of essential rights. In 8th grade, the Wax Museum project asks students to choose a person who has had a positive impact on the world, research that person, then embody him or her at a public presentation.

Providing young people with ways forward and examples of successful efforts at making a difference in the world is important to us. We hope to support a justified sense of optimism and hope in all our students.

Diversity in the Upper School

Diversity is the cornerstone of the High School Program. Tolerance, respect, connection, an open mind, these are just a few of the ideas that drive the discussion about what it means to be an ethical and global citizen in the 21st century. Students read, write, debate and analyze their responses to a diverse range of literature, history and language. The Visiting Speakers Program reinforces this conversation by hosting published writers of political science, the environment and racial relations. Students and Faculty broaden their perspectives about difference through participation in the Student Leadership Conference (SDLC), People of Color Conference (POCC), the United Nations Student Conference on Human Rights, the 9th Grade New York at Night Program, the World Affairs Breakfast Club, and the leadership and service courses in Costa Rica, India, and Kenya. These experiences give students the skills to facilitate affinity groups and workshops on Diversity Day and Awareness Day, tackling questions such as “Does Gender Matter?”, “Who Gets a Voice?” and “Am I My Brother’s Keeper?” Understanding diversity in all its forms is ongoing and is a key to building empathy and leadership in our community and in the world.

Upper School Diversity Extracurriculars


Spectrum is a space for and by students: we wish to create a safe space for students of all genders and sexualities. Spectrum is about confidentiality, open dialogue, advocacy and snacks. Open to both allies and members of the community, our goal is to create a safe space and to work toward making the entire school a safer space for LGBTQ+ people.

Girls to Women

Girls to Women is an affinity group that creates a space in the school environment for young women and girls to have thoughtful discussions of critical issues affecting them and encourages leadership development.


JADA provides a safe space for all members of our community who respect, honor and celebrate the wide range of differences in ourselves. Our purpose is to discuss important, controversial, tough, and uncomfortable issues that affect all individuals who identify with any race, culture, socioeconomic class, gender spectrum, sexual preference, religion, and the like. Our goal is to strive to help raise awareness for diversity in our school’s community, and to hopefully spread this helpful knowledge to others. For a community to thrive, it must be aware of the experience of each and every individual in it.

P.O.C. (People of Color)

P.O.C. is an affinity group that creates a space in the school environment for students of color, helping them to develop a deeper sense of belonging.

Psychology Club

The Psychology Club, advised by the Upper School psychologist, is a group in which Upper School students, talk, read and think about the field of psychology. Since the inception of this co-curricular, they have included the concept of diversity in their discussions as it applies to personality, sexuality, gender, race, etc.

The Radical Film Society

The Radical Film Society screens films related to class, power, and other political and advocacy issues.

Diversity in Employment

Professional Development Opportunities

Faculty and administrators participate in several professional development opportunities throughout the school year, both on campus and off, which enrich our understanding of diversity in our community. Some opportunities include:
  • The NYSAIS Diversity Conference on Social and Economic Class in Independent Schools
  • Each year we send a group of faculty to the annual POCC (People of Color Conference) sponsored by NAIS (National Association of Independent School).
  • On-campus meetings of SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity)
  • Undoing Racism Conference (The Anti-Racist Alliance)
As diversity practitioners, our faculty believes there is always more to learn. Each year, our middle school teachers participate in a myriad of diversity-related professional development, attending conferences such as the Antiracist Alliance’s Undoing Racism workshops as well as those sponsored by NYSAIS, examining issues such as gender, sexual orientation, religion, and ability. Many of our middle school teachers members attend the White Antiracist Allies meetings, held each month at different independent schools in our area. We have created diversity salons, where educators from peer schools can share resources and ideas. We have also benefitted from in-house trainings and workshops led by our own faculty members and by outside consultants such as Jane Bolgatz, author of Talking Race in the Classroom.

Statement of Non-Discrimination in Employment

The Berkeley Carroll School ("Berkeley Carroll") is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Berkeley Carroll does not discriminate in hiring or employment on the basis of race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, ancestry, sexual orientation, as defined by law, or on the basis of age, as defined by law, disability or genetic information.

Berkeley Carroll provides health insurance for the domestic partners of its faculty as well as maternity and paternity leave for birth or adoption of a child