Middle School Students of Color Conference

Communicate to Educate: Tell Your Story

Saturday, February 10, 2018
Dana Hall School, Wellesley, MA

Registration is currently closed. Due to the coordination needed to prepare for our student attendees, registration for this event is completely closed at this time. If your school will not be joining us this Saturday, we look forward to you joining us at a future Middle School Students of Color Conference. Thank you!


  • 9:15 - 9:40 a.m. - Registration & Breakfast
  • 9:45 - 10:50 a.m. - Welcome & Morning Keynote
  • 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. - Workshop A
  • 12:10 - 1:10 p.m. - Workshop B
  • 1:10 - 1:50 p.m. - Lunch
  • 2:00 - 2:45 p.m. - Closing & Afternoon Keynote
  • 2:45 - 3:00 p.m. - Open Mic & Wrap Up

Morning Keynote
David Freeman Coleman

Director of Choral Music, Dana Hall School

Lecturer of Music at Tufts University
Leader, Tufts Gospel Choir

As a native of Memphis, Tennessee earned his Bachelor of Music dual degree in piano performance and composition from Boston University and M.A. in composition from Tufts University. Choral directing for almost 30 years, he is currently the Director of Choral Music at the Dana Hall School in Wellesley and Lecturer of Music at Tufts University, where he leads the 200-voice Tufts Gospel Choir. Member of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), the Massachusetts Music Teachers Association (MMTA), and the American Society of Composers and Arrangers (ASCAP). Has led music workshops for the ACDA and for the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS).

Actively involved in theater and gospel music throughout New England, Coleman is the 2007 recipient of the Thomas A. Dorsey Award from the New England Conservatory, and served as production pianist for the 2012 Tony Award-winning production of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess. With performances at the White House, Symphony Hall, the House of Blues, and the Wang Center, he also has experience working with and leading choirs for Bobby McFerrin, Patti LaBelle, Phish, and Academy Award Nominee Ryan Gosling.

An active songwriter and composer, he has recorded 10 CD’s of songs, most available on iTunes and amazon.com.In 2013, David received awards for Best Male Gospel Artist, Best Gospel Producer, and Best Gospel CD at the New England Urban Music Awards.

Afternoon Keynote
Dr. Bettina Love

Dr. Bettina L. Love is an award-winning author and Associate Professor of Educational Theory & Practice at the University of Georgia. Her research focuses on the ways in which urban youth negotiate Hip Hop music and culture to form social, cultural, and political identities to create new and sustaining ways of thinking about urban education and social justice. Her research also focuses on how teachers and schools working with parents and communities can build communal, civically engaged, anti-racist, anti-homophobic, and anti-sexist educational, equitable classrooms. For her work in the field, in 2016, Dr. Love was named the Nasir Jones Hiphop Fellow at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. She is also the creator of the Hip Hop civics curriculum: GET FREE. In April of 2017, Dr. Love participated in a one-on-one public lecture with bell hooks focused on the liberatory education practices of Black and Brown children.

Dr. Love is one of the field’s most esteemed educational researchers in the area of Hip Hop
education for elementary aged students. She is the founder of Real Talk: Hip Hop Education for Social Justice, an after school initiative aimed at teaching elementary students the history and elements of Hip Hop for social justice through project-based learning.

Dr. Love is a sought-after public speaker on a range of topics including: Hip Hop education,
Black girlhood, queer youth, Hip Hop feminism, art-based education to foster youth civic
engagement, and issues of diversity. In 2014, she was invited to the White House Research
Conference on Girls to discuss her work focused on the lives of Black girls. In addition, she is
the inaugural recipient of the Michael F. Adams award (2014) from the University of Georgia.
She has also provided commentary for various news outlets including NPR, The Guardian , and the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Dr. Love is one of the founding board members of The Kindezi School, an innovative school focused on small classrooms and art-based education. Finally, she is the author of Hip Hop’s Li’l Sistas Speak: Negotiating Hip Hop Identities and Politics in the New South . Her work has appeared in numerous books and journals, including the English Journal, Urban Education, The Urban Review, and Journal of LGBT Youth. In 2017, Dr. Love edited a special issue of the Journal of Lesbian Studies focused on the identities, gender performance s, and pedagogical practices of Black and Brown lesbian educators. She is currently working on her second book, We Want To Do More Than Survive: A Pedagogy of Mattering.


1. “Where Do You Stand?”
In this interactive workshop we will have the opportunity to share our own experiences in independent schools. We will reflect upon issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion and leave having a better understanding of how we can bring new ideas and energy to our school community!

Facilitated by Dana Hall Upper School Students who attended the 2017 Student Diversity Leadership Conference in Anaheim, CA

2. Ani-MAKE
"MAKE" your favorite fairytale come to life through design and animation in the Makerspace.

Facilitated by Pat Townsend, Engineering and Computer Science Department Head, Dana Hall School, and Anita Lavakumar, Upper School Math and Computer Science Teacher, Dana Hall School

3. “Writing Your Song"
Songwriting is all about finding your unique identity and voice. Write a chorus for a song that captures something essential about you. No musical or songwriting experience is needed for this workshop. Everyone can do this! We will focus on the lyrics.

Facilitated by Catie Curtis, Recording Artist, LGBTQ Program Manager at Greater Boston PFLAG

4. “I Am From: An Exploration of Background and Identity through Poetry"
You don't need to be a poet to join this interactive workshop! Come and think about where you are from in terms of the smells, tastes, traditions, and common sayings of your family and community. We'll use a structured writing prompt to help us formulate our ideas and memories, and there will be opportunities to share our work with each other, too.

Facilitated by Jessica Keimowitz, Upper School Director, Dana Hall School

5. “Chinese New Year Celebration! Dumpling Making, Cooking and Eating”
Come join us to celebrate the New Year by making, cooking and eating pork, beef and vegetarian dumplings. “Dumplings represent wealth and good fortune because they are shaped like ingots — blocks of gold used as ancient Chinese currency. Assembling the dumplings by stuffing the filling into wrappers is a popular family activity.”

Facilitated by Shujun Xiang Jasmine and Jingfang Gai Ann

6. "Giving Back with the Boston Celtics"
Did you know you don’t have to be 7 feet tall and a standout basketball player in order to work for the Boston Celtics, or any team in the NBA? Come learn about what it is like working in the front office of a professional sports team. For over fifty years, the “Boston Celtics” name has been synonymous with pride, success and tradition. In this interactive session we will discuss the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundations’ year-round commitment toward making the Celtics’ legacy off the court, as strong and respected as their legacy on the court.

Facilitated by Ariann Williams, Senior Coordinator, Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation, Dana Hall School, Class of '08

7. “Building Monuments of Memory Using Dance”
Monuments are structures erected to honor and preserve the memory of events and people. Monuments aid memories in transcending time and encountering people who may otherwise not have known about the events or people they were created to honor and enshrine. One of the current problems with monuments is that there are too few of them. So many stories and narratives of great people are lost because monuments were not erected to recognize, memorialize and celebrate them. In this workshop, participants will use dance to erect monuments reflective of their own testimonies and personal narratives to honor and share about the lives they have lived.

Facilitated by Candace Taylor

8. "Bringing Diversity to Diplomacy"
What is the role of a diplomat? Let’s explore diplomacy, the State Department and current efforts to increase diversity in the Foreign Service. What is a pathway to becoming a diplomat? Come find out!

Facilitated by Alejandra Baez

9. “Law of Attraction and the Understanding of Oneself”
Let’s work to understand how the energy we put out is the energy we receive! How can we stay true to ourselves when there are so many influences all around us daily?

Facilitated by Alena Horton

10. "Adolescence Across Cultures"
We think of adolescence as a universal stage in human development that is filled with “storm and stress”, which results from the multiple biological, psychological, and social changes that take place in our bodies and our lives. In this session we will explore whether our ideas about adolescents and their behaviors are truly universal. We will look at teenagers across the world and across different contexts in the U.S.. Students will have an opportunity to discuss and reflect on their own experiences in the pre-teen years, and how these may be shaped by their context.

Facilitated by Virginia Diez

11. "The Resilience and Recovery Strategies of Women Survivors of Hurricane Katrina"
We will discuss tactics women survivors of Hurricane Katrina said helped with their recovery and resilience. Attendees will learn about strategies they can incorporate in their lives to overcome difficult life experiences.

Facilitated by Ophera A. Davis, Ph.D, Lecturer, African Studies, Wellesley College

12. "The Adventures of Funkyman"
Using inspiration from comic books and music, we will explore the words, sights, and sounds that enable us to express ourselves as individuals, share our experience with others, and shape the world around us. One person's honest expression can literally change someone else's life. Let's discuss how we can do that every day and in bigger and more effective ways.

Facilitated by David Freeman Coleman

13. "Hip-Hop Class called Cali-Swag"
Come and learn the moves associated with the Cali-Swag. The moves are different than the fast moves from the East Coast. You will learn this smooth Hip-Hop style.

Facilitated by Kassandra Rateau, President, BCity Reps Dance Studio

14. "Discrimination Against Women in Decision-Making Positions in Iran"
Iran is today among the WORLD’S top nations with myriad violations of the most fundamental human rights and freedoms, including women’s HUMAN Rights. Since the triumph of the 1979 Islamic Revolution and establishment of the government of the Islamic Republic in Iran, women’s gender has been a catalyst to deny and restrict their civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights.
In this workshop, Dr. Farzaneh discusses compelling issues surrounding discrimination against women in decision-making positions such as judgeships and the presidency. She will also identify and rebut Iran’s justifications for such discriminatory treatments against women’s guaranteed human rights.

Facilitated by Dr. Delaram Farzaneh

, Fellow, The Freedom Project, Wellesley College

15. "Makes Me Wanna Holler: Open Dialogue on Macroaggressions"

A workshop for Students of Color
Come to this interactive workshop and engage in open dialogue about how to navigate macroaggressions: the snubs and insults that communicate derogatory or negative messages that might not be intended to cause harm, but are targeted at people based on their membership in a marginalized or underrepresented group.

Facilitated by Jack Hill, Head of Middle School, Cambridge Friends School

16. "Does Race Affect Your Life?"

A workshop for White Allies
Students will watch a brief excerpt of the powerful PBS Documentary, “Race: The Power of an Illusion, part 3.” The film focuses not on individual behaviors and attitudes, but on how our institutions shape and create race, giving different groups vastly unequal life chances. The episode reveals some of the ordinary social institutions that quietly channel wealth and opportunity, so that white people benefit from a racist system without personally being racist. Following the film, the class will engage in small and large group discussions to unpack what was learned.

Facilitated by Michelle Chalmers, MSW

17. "Girls, Who Run The World!"

A workshop for Girls of Color
In this workshop we will explore and tap into the "power" we possess as young women of color. You will begin to see how significant you are to your immediate surrounding and to the world!

Facilitated by Linda Hughes, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Walnut Hill School for the Arts

18. "Bridging the Gap"
Communication can be used to both connect and divide and educate and destroy. In this workshop, Yemeni-Bosnian-American artist, Alia Ali, blurs the fabricated barriers in society that divide us and unite us, all at once. Participants are encouraged to confront their prejudices and the prejudices put onto them by exploring the gaps between verbal and visual language drawing on aspects of the art, media, politics and language. Through discussions, brainstorming, sketching, photography and music, one explores how verbal language can be a form of alienation rather than a means of understanding. Alia’s immersive workshop takes the participant past language to offer a more expansive, experiential understanding of self, culture and nation.

Facilitated by Alia Ali, Artist in Residence

19.“Birth of a Hoodie: Dissecting the Media’s Role in Influencing Identity Bias”
How did a simple popular apparel item become symbolic of an ominous young black male? Why are addicts (current meth problem) portrayed as people in need of empathy and crisis intervention when drug addiction strikes white communities but depicted as criminals (1980s crack epidemic, for example) when addiction affects communities of color? How do images and stories across social media, TV, movies and print shape our views of different groups of people? Does repetition of certain images in media equate to truth? Does it matter who is shaping our views and why? What is “dog whistle” storytelling and how do we challenge it to learn the whole story that exists beneath the surface? What coded language and images have become part of your view of others?

This workshop will explore examples of how narratives about distinct populations of people are shaped by media depending on the point writers or broadcasters desire to make, conscious and unconscious bias of media representatives, the pull of election cycle politics, the needs of a 24-hour news cycle, and the impact of global events. Students will share their thoughts and ideas on how to recognize and think critically about media bias, and become active unbiased storytellers.

Gretchen Cook-Anderson, Marketing, Media & PR exec

Registration Notes

  • Your registration payment of $45 per person (students and adults) includes continental breakfast and lunch.
  • Please commit to a number of registered attendees from your school. $45 must be paid, per person. After registering, you may substitute attendees, or add registrations. You may not decrease the number of registrations initially submitted.
  • Students from your school must be accompanied by at least one adult.
  • Your school should arrange transportation to Dana Hall School for this conference.

Registration is currently closed. Due to the coordination needed to prepare for our student attendees, registration for this event is completely closed at this time. If your school will not be joining us this Saturday, we look forward to you joining us at a future Middle School Students of Color Conference. Thank you!