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Embrace Belonging

By Tiffany Thompson, director of community, culture and belonging
Creating a community where everyone belongs enhances students’ well-being and learning.
In the evolving conversation that swirls around diversity, La Jolla Country Day School desires to be a leader in pre-K–12 education by fostering belonging for every member of our community. In fact, our Board of Trustees has made it a strategic priority. One of the six initiatives to advance our school is to “honor and leverage human diversity.” 

Our community must continue to live out the kindness required to honor each other and maximize the potential that human diversity can unlock in our school. Dignity through kindness can be seen every day in our students’ compassion for one another. We also hear it in the voices of parents and teachers during Community Conversations. It all leads to a culture of belonging on campus.

When our students, families, educators and coaches embrace belonging, we become leaders in our community and beyond. When we embrace belonging, we leverage our potential to set a higher standard of dignity: that ours can be an environment that accepts and celebrates every individual. When we embrace belonging for each individual, learning, creativity and innovation thrive, and so do our students.

What’s in a name?
As February marks the calendar each year to celebrate Black History in our nation, I am reminded of the Civil Rights March from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. Walking alongside Martin Luther King Jr. in that march was Rabbi Abraham Heschel, who is credited with coining the phrase “words create worlds.” It is an inspiring thought and a powerful image of two individuals from different ideologies, cultures and races, connected shoulder-to-shoulder, finding a reason to belong together. 

Words have the power to create worlds, and we aim to choose words at LJCDS that inspire greatness for a better world. It’s why we exist, why leveraging human diversity aligns with our mission, and why we carry out this work through the recently named Community, Culture and Belonging Department (CCB). We chose this name because we are serious about being a school that walks the talk by living out our values, mission and vision. We are building a community with a culture where everyone belongs

In a thought exercise, our CCB advisory committee asked a similar question on the power of the words “Black History Month.” While we will always teach Black history in our classrooms, what would be the impact on our students and community if we also celebrated “Black Future Month”?

Day of Joy
The initiative to embrace belonging on campus gained significant traction last year as we amplified our focus on creating spaces where students with shared experiences and backgrounds can connect and find support. In October, we hosted a successful Day of Belonging, where students interacted with a wide range of affinity groups.

Coming off that momentum, we are excited to announce that the inaugural Day of Joy will be celebrated on campus on April 12, 2024. The Day of Joy will exemplify our dedication to the idea of belonging and will feature the theme “The Seven Continents of LJCDS.” Day of Joy is more than an event; it is a platform for everyone to participate actively, practicing the skills that encourage open dialogue and mutual understanding. 

A Connected Future
In our fall 2023 Belonging Survey, roughly 75% of the 211 families who responded agreed that LJCDS “is committed to creating an environment where every community member feels like they belong.” The CCB team will strive to improve a sense of belonging as we plan meaningful events, host vulnerable conversations, listen to our community’s feedback, and show up each day to prepare our students for a lifetime of learning. 

As we move forward, we remain focused on weaving CCB into the fabric of the LJCDS  experience. We can create a future where unity, respect and a sense of belonging define our students’ educational journey. By cultivating a community built on connectedness, we know that our students’ emotional and mental well-being will continue to flourish. Let’s embrace our sense of belonging so we may honor one another and leverage our collective potential.

La Jolla Country Day School

9490 Genesee Avenue
La Jolla, CA 92037

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