GSB Hosts Fourth Annual Middle School Equity and Inclusion Summit 

GSB Hosts Fourth Annual Middle School Equity and Inclusion Summit 

On October 21, 2023, Gill St. Bernard's School hosted 105 students and faculty from 12 independent schools for the fourth annual Middle School Equity and Inclusion Summit. The event, themed "Creating Space for Authentic Voices at the Intersection of Technology, Culture, & Identity," provided students with the tools and resources to be change agents in their school communities, particularly as they navigate the digital age. 

The summit began with a keynote presentation by the Director of Technology, Research, and Innovation at Atlanta International School, Dr. Marsha Maxwell, a leading expert on equity and inclusion in education. Dr. Maxwell introduced how technology and artificial intelligence have influenced communication. She also emphasized the role of technology in promoting equity and inclusion, and how students can use technology to amplify their voices and create social change. 

Dr. Maxwell stressed the importance of aligning one’s online and real-life personas. When there is a disconnect between the two, it can cause low self-esteem as a person strives to live up to made-up standards.

“Certain social skills are very important," said Dr. Maxwell. "They may not feel like they're important right now. And people worry so much about AI taking jobs. It's your humanness that is going to land you a job.”  

“This year’s Summit gave me new insights and perspectives since attending this conference as a middle school student,” said Jordan McDonald, a GSB sophomore. “This time, I not only served as a breakout group facilitator, but I was also honored to introduce Dr. Maxwell for her keynote." 

After the keynote, students participated in a variety of workshops and activities designed to help them develop their digital literacy skills, practice civil discourse, and explore new ideas for fostering inclusiveness in their schools and online communities. Some of the topics covered in the workshops included: 

  • Using social media for social justice 

  • Creating inclusive digital spaces 

  • Building digital allyship 

  • Using artificial intelligence responsibly 

  • Using technology to tell your own stories 

Students also had the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations with each other about their experiences and perspectives on identity in the digital age.

"It was very nice to meet with other students from other schools," said Dani Briones, a GSB 8th-Grade attendee of the summit. "It was also nice to learn about AI and how it could be used in the future." 

"Our students are thinking about the world around them in ways that will help to shape a future that is inclusive of their cultural identities," said Tracey Goodson Barrett, Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Community at Gill St. Bernard's School. "As we continue to evolve with artificial intelligence, we hope this Summit has empowered students to consider the ways in which technology can be leveraged to amplify their authentic voice." 

The Gill St. Bernard's School Middle School Equity and Inclusion Summit is an important example of how schools can work together to create a more inclusive future for all students. By providing students with the tools and resources they need to be digital advocates for themselves and others, the summit empowers the next generation of leaders to create a more just and equitable world, both online and offline. 

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