Launched in 2011, The Dalton Conference is a day-long, dynamic and interactive program to educate and train school leadership (administrators, alumni, diversity coordinators, faculty, parents, students, trustees) to broaden and improve inclusion within the racial, socioeconomic and sexually diverse communities of New York City’s independent schools. For most schools, it is the time each year when they can productively focus on conversations about issues of diversity and inclusion with representatives from all the constituencies at their school coupled with an opportunity to share both challenges and effective practices with peer schools.
Over the last eight years, 45 NYC Independent schools have attended at least one Dalton Conference, with many returning year after year. Sixteen schools attended the first year and in the following years, we reached our capacity of 30 schools with over 450 people. Please click on the links below to read about our past conferences:
The conference takes place on a spring Saturday at The Dalton School. Each registered school sends a group of community members called a POD, which includes 2 members from each constituency: administrators, alumni, diversity practitioners, faculty, parents, students, and trustees.
After lunch, students share concrete recommendations to help make schools more sensitive to differences. Then each school’s POD meets separately to debrief on the morning. They are given the notes from each of the morning constituent discussion groups and are asked to create an Action Plan that can be taken back to their school to begin to implement change.
Conference reviews by participants have been outstanding, year after year. In particular, attendees appreciate the structure of the day – the opportunity to meet with peers in the morning and their school POD in the afternoon; the emphasis on creating an Action Plan; the reality check of the student presentation and the inspiration of the guest speaker.
Participating schools report changes both large and small following the conference.
Revised internal hiring manual
Working on a more inclusive/comprehensive health curriculum
Creation of an LGBT affinity group
The Conference is produced by a Planning Committee and approximately 60 Dalton administrator, alumni, faculty, parent, student and trustee volunteers. All volunteers take part in facilitator training sessions and are provided with a conference manual which includes articles, guidelines and facilitator scripts. The Planning Committee is chaired by Casper Caldarola '77.
We would like to thank the Stavros Niarchos Foundation for their support of the conference.
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Erica Corbin, Director of Community Life, The Chapin School
"The Dalton Conference has provided a regular opportunity to bring together members of our community whose paths don't often cross, around issues that affect all of us but that we rarely have time to confront. It is an incredibly moving and inspiring experience to see students strategize with senior administrators, trustees, and their current or former teachers about ways to make a better school."
~ Erica Corbin, Director of Community Life, The Chapin School
Frank Patti, Head of Lower School, The Hewitt School
"We had a great time making connections with educators from other schools. We learned that many schools face some of the same challenges that we do. Our diversity task force had lengthy discussions about the ideas that we had for next year. This led to a great end of year meeting for faculty and staff dealing with diversity and inclusivity."
~ Frank Patti, Head of Lower School, The Hewitt School
Leitzel Schoen, Dean of Co-Curricular Programs, Friends Seminary
"It was such a pleasure to work with you last year and our POD got so much from the conference. Many of the action steps we generated at the conference are already being put into play in our school community. The conference also brought together the various constituency groups from our school community around these shared goals. They continue to work together to bring these goals to fruition. You are doing transformative work. Thank you again for the work you do. I hope you are aware of the impact it is having in the independent school world of NYC."
~ Leitzel Schoen, Dean of Co-Curricular Programs, Friends Seminary
Sandra (Chap) Chapman, Director of Diversity & Community, LREI
"LREI has learned several things. For example, our issues are not solely our own. We are in "good" company around the challenges we face and can network with a number of schools interested in and willing to make real changes to policies, programs, and practices in support all of the people. Putting a face to a name during the affinity group sessions helps us all know people better. This has been very helpful for our parent, alum, board, and student members who do not always have opportunities to connect with others around diversity & social justice work."
~ Sandra (Chap) Chapman, Director of Diversity & Community, LREI
Stephen Warner, Lower School Head, The Allen-Stevenson School
"I wish there was a way to keep the momentum that is built from the conference going. I know that each year in our POD we have had heated and productive discussions and created some action plans but the follow through on these hasn't been maximized. Perhaps, the POD should be a group that has a scheduled meeting before and after the conference to prepare for and follow-up."
~ Stephen Warner, Lower School Head, The Allen-Stevenson School
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