Celebrating Diversity at Corlears

As an educational institution, Corlears is committed to building a supporting a diverse student body. Whether it be through socio-economic background, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or family configuration, diversity gives our students the opportunity to view the world from multiple perspectives. As part of this work, Corlears hosted its first ever reception for Families of Students of color, and the response was overwhelming.

During the evening, families had the opportunity to come together and to share their Corlears stories. For many, it was both emotional and empowering to be given the space to share and connect in this way.  Assistant Head of School, Amy-Marie Rivera, reflects on the evening "I was so pleased to see such an amazing cross-section of families: newly accepted, new to this year, current families and alumni students. Everyone came together to share about their experiences. There was so much great energy and so much appreciation for the recognition of each other, for a space to talk about their fears and their joys, and the overall experiences they were each connecting to." Also in attendance was parent David Ige, he says that “for a formal event, it was a wonderfully informal acknowledgement of how diversity lives and breathes to families of color within the Corlears community. School diversity could easily be treated as a subject without substance, depth or action. This event felt like an organic acknowledgement of how it actually affects the Corlears community and made us stronger for it. It had it all! I really enjoyed how families spoke from the heart as to their personal relationships with the school and their thoughts on where diversity issues have been or where they may be headed. Being from Hawaii where diversity was probably invented, the subject never really resonated with me as to something that needs effort and attention to achieve.”

For the past 20 years or so, many independent schools across the country have begun to create affinity space for families and students who share a common difference, in an effort to affirm identity. Research has shown that providing these spaces helps to avoid what can feel like invisibility or marginality, which can serve to undermine students' success, and parent involvement in their school communities. Children feel more comfortable in their learning environment if they know that other children are having a shared experience. This is not only true for ethnicity, but also true for children with same sex parents, divorced parents, children who are adopted, and so on.  As schools that value risk-taking and critical thinking skills, it is crucial that we honor and support all of the voices and experiences of students in our classrooms and of our parent body.

Corlears embraces the celebration of difference in its many forms. This evening was just the beginning of the work the school community is committed to doing as we continue to look for ways to be a truly inclusive place of learning, discovery and growth for our students and their families. Recognizing and celebrating difference benefits the school community as a whole and creates an environment of acceptance and transparency. David Ige continues, “My hope for Olina is to enjoy education within a community that respects progressive learning. This event brought inspiration as to how Corlears acknowledges diversity as being an integral part of the school's progress, which then enriches all of it's students learning.”

As Corlears embarks on its 48th year, we are proud to continue its legacy as a nurturing and supportive environment that allows our students to graduate with empathy, a strong sense of self and the ability to embrace difference. We look forward to continuing this work and creating opportunities for the school community to come together and engage in meaningful dialogues around issues of diversity and how to best support our children throughout their educational journey.