Brooklyn private independent school

Diversity & Inclusion at Berkeley Carroll

brooklyn diverse school

When we ask students and parents what they value most about Berkeley Carroll, at the top of the list is the sense of community at our diverse school. In joining Berkeley Carroll's diverse school, students and parents become connected with one another in ways that are academically stimulating, socially satisfying, and spiritually energizing.

With that knowledge, in 2014 we took time to look more closely at how our community comes together, what influences participation, and how we can continue to build on our many strengths. All year long there have been deep and wide-ranging discussions about diversity, class, race and ethnicity by the faculty in each of our divisions and also in the Parent Association. While we are proud of our school's efforts, and in many ways BC can serve as a role model for other independent schools, it is the BC way to always want to do better.

It is with that idea in mind that in Spring of 2014, we were proud to announce that the school has established a new leadership position, Director of Community and Inclusion, and hired Brandie Melendez for this important appointment. The Director is responsible for building inclusiveness in the school and working with teachers, administrators, trustees, families and students to insure that all members of the school community have a complete and satisfying experience. Brandie can be reached at

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 no child should feel that he or she needs to leave any significant part of himself or herself behind when stepping through the classroom door and becoming a part of the classroom community. With that in mind, we follow the Responsive Classroom approach, which states that the social emotional curriculum is as important as the academic. Each teacher is trained in the particular language to develop strong members of a community. We want to help children develop a positive self image, learn to speak up for and be responsible for themselves and others, and solve conflicts with one another. This approach creates appreciation for diversity, a climate of inclusion, and a tone of warmth and safety. It also establishes expectations about ways students will learn to be kind, honest and fair together.

Beginning in PreK students learn about the concept of what it means to be a “changemaker” in their community. Through purposeful literature and conversations, students are exposed to different aspects of diversity throughout the year, rather than simply on one day or during a special month-long study. Specific resources are shared in each grade with intentionality behind these decisions, so that children see themselves represented in print and literature. The children may study people who have created change through political, scientific, social, or athletic action to name a few. We believe in the importance of teaching children that small differences can make a big impact, and encourage them to see themselves, their parents, their families and friends as changemakers.

Our health and human sexuality curriculum, also beginning in PreK, was developed to reflect our focus on ensuring an inclusive environment for all kinds of families. In addition to teaching students, in an age-appropriate way, to have a healthy understanding of their bodies, students also learn to identify and thoughtfully examine and question gender stereotypes. As with the changemakers curriculum, the literature we read and classroom conversations we embark on are designed to so reflect the experiences of the students in our school.

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. Below are some of the books read during the 2014-15 academic year.

• 5th grade: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

• 6th grade: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, I Am Malala by Malala Youfsazai, Boxers and Saints by Gene Lueng Yang

• 7th grade: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, 12 Angry Men by Reginald Rose, and a selection of short stories by Amy Tan, Gary Soto and Alex Sanchez about young people in a variety of cultural and ethnic settings in America

• 8th grade: Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare, the curious incident of the dog in the night-time by Mark Haddon,and Maus by Art Spiegelman.

The Humanities program provides us time and opportunity to place all books in historical and cultural context.Brown Girl Dreaming , for example, is supported by the 5th graders also reading a memoir by Ruby Bridges. The 7th graders’ reading of work by Sherman Alexie is enhanced by research into the history of American Indian reservations, the generational legacy of trauma, and current issues of reservation and Native American life today. 8th graders come to better understand individuals with autism and other differences through the reading of curious incident as well as viewing the documentary film “Autism: The Musical”. Their reading of Romeo and Juliet connects with exploring gender roles and family pressures in contemporary culture today.

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