The "BETWEEN INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS AND ME" Series                                                                            (A compendium of new-age workshops) 

As noted in our mission statement, we proudly offer a full complement of diversity facilitation and diversity training services. Our facilitated workshops and trainings are offered to the entire school community, the student body exclusively, and to the faculty (often as professional development). The collection of workshops is called, Between Independent Schools and Me. The title is meant to reflect the very personal nature of inclusion at independent school campuses as it is a goal that our founder, Kip Bordelon, has been advocating since he was an independent school student in the early 1990s. Each workshop in the collection has been thoughtfully created based on prevailing issues at independent schools and our own experiences as former independent school students. Our sessions encourage a free exchange of ideas directed at learning and gaining a new appreciation for inclusivity. It is important to note that our facilitation team custom tailors each workshop to the school/institution we are providing the service to. Here is a glimpse of the complement of school, student, and faculty workshops  that our facilitation team offers:                                               

ARE THERE TWO AMERICAS WORKSHOP: Are There Really Two Americas? is a scholarly but very "real-talk" presentation that directly addresses how and why we often see national matters differently based on race. It is a very thought-provoking and eye-opening presentation that is certain to leave the audience with a new perspective and better understanding of the African-American experience. For many, being Black and being American are at times conflicting realities. Perspectives about the United States and prevailing national issues can be vastly different depending on one's race. We have seen this with the Rodney King verdict, the OJ Simpson verdict, 9/11, the Obama candidacy and presidency, Black Lives Matter, the National Anthem protest, the 2017 NFL Blackout protest, and a myriad of other events that establish our differing social norms and thus our conflicting opinions on race. Are There Really Two Americas? takes a critical look at events that have separated us. Until we better understand the source of our differences, this social variance will persist, making acceptance and ultimately advancement much more difficult. The presentation explores these social realities and challenges our society's behavior on these matters.

MUSIC AND MEMES FOR SOCIAL CHANGE WORKSHOP: For generations pop music has played an integral role in shaping the dialogue for social justice and social change- particularly among a younger audience. The same is true today. However, social media has introduced a brand new, and highly effective, medium for messaging and connecting with people. One of the most popular tools within the social media space are memes. Whether it is a 4-minute song or a 2-line meme, both are sources of impactful information designed to make a lasting statement. This workshop explores music (old school and new) and memes- and what role have they, and continue, to play in the conversations we all have revolving around race, class, gender, sexual identity, etc. The audience will be challenged to discuss the pros and cons of memes and music and how effective they have been, are, and can be moving forward. While this workshop will cover serious topics, it is presented using a fun, light-hearted approach to encourage open-mindedness and participation. 

THE MAJOR MICRO-AGGRESSIONS WORKSHOP: With a staff of independent school "lifers" (4-year boarders) from urban backgrounds, the Picardy Group is well aware of how impactful racial micro-aggressions can be to the individual experiences of students. It is often those micro-aggressions that stay with us into adulthood and for some stains the wonderful experiences we have had while matriculating independent schools. Racial micro-aggressions are painful and often very difficult to manage- not just for the student who is the target of the aggression, but for the friends and adults who seek to provide comfort to these students from it. However, racial micro-aggressions can very easily fly under the radar. They are often dismissed as "no big deal" instances and as such-are not worthy of bringing these occurrences to the attention of an authority figure or administration. The goal  of this workshop is to empower all students to be aware of what micro-aggressions are, how to manage them if they are presented, how to support those who are the targets of micro-aggressions, and how to support those who have used a micro-aggression. This workshop can also be tailored to be offered to the faculty with the same objectives as students. 

DO AMERICAN VALUES CONFLICT WITH SOCIAL JUSTICE WORKSHOP: Some of the most prevalent issues of today are topics that may be confusing to many independent school students. Confusing not because they are unaware of the issues, but because the issues themselves may conflict with their ideas of social justice. For many students within the boundaries of diverse campuses with students from around country and world, this may be confusing or even frustrating, and could lead to feelings of disconnection or marginalization. The gaol of this workshop is to encourage students to identify what they believe American values are and determine if those values are in conflict with the most pressing social justice matters of the day. The workshop will challenge students, in a safe and non-conflicting fashion, to dissect issues such as the 2017 U.S. travel ban, DACA, border wall, flag-burning, body-shaming, social welfare, affirmative action, DAPL, Middle-East refugee crisis, etc. The goal in the end is for students to hear and understand the variety of perspectives and ideas surrounding the issues that likely impact them, their families, and their communities. 

RACE IN THE AGE OF TRUMP WORKSHOP: Regardless of individuals' personal political affiliation, the Trump Presidency has undoubtedly ushered-in a wave of challenging issues surrounding race. How these topics are handled on school campuses could be critical to the ongoing comfort and trust levels that students enjoy and rely on. With race becoming so front and center on the national stage, having a dedicated workshop designed to unpack the many issues and nuances that have been uncovered will be an important aspect of the social curriculum of all independent schools. This workshop begins to unpack the symbolism that has caused many Americans to feel angst and discomfort over the past two years and aims to make each member of the community feel the angst and discomfort while understanding why it exists. The workshop will examine the very broad spectrum of perspectives and focus in on how to encourage meaningful dialogue while honoring students' varying backgrounds and beliefs. 

REAL-TALK CULTURAL AWARENESS FOR INDEPENDENT SCHOOL FACULTIES: This workshop will cover how to effectively engage students of color- particularly when discussing very touchy subjects including race and class. The audience will be challenged and encouraged to demonstrate courage while openly discussing the issues and concerns surrounding Diversity, Inclusion, Community, and Equity (DICE). The objective of the workshop is to first solidify a better understanding of the perspectives of students of color- not only in society but specifically on independent school campuses, while embracing the precept of DICE in a meaningful and substantive manner. The second portion of the workshop will involve research-based ideas and concepts designed to serve as tools for administrators and faculty to implement to greatly improve schools’ ability to project acceptance, empathy, equality, and most importantly- trust! The session will then cover how faculty, regardless of their age or background, can actively build, or re-build, trust among students of color- who are often the most vulnerable students.

BREAKING DOWN BLACK LIVES MATTER WORKSHOP: In the wake of multiple incidents involving law enforcement and violence against black citizens, the Black Lives Matter movement has taken the country by storm. The movement itself has addressed long-standing objections to what many believe are social injustices and unfair law enforcement towards African-Americans. The movement has grown exponentially over the past couple of years and has found itself at the heart of many debates surrounding its purpose, usefulness, and even possible bias. For many, Black Lives Matter is unfamiliar. To truly praise or criticize the movement, it is imperative that individuals gain an understanding of the history of the African-American experience in this country as it relates to law and justice--two of the country’s most cherished tenets. Could it be that the doctrine of equality has and continues to neglect African-Americans in the United States? Could it be an unjustified outcome of justified force? The Black Lives Matter seminar creates a safe space for students and faculty to explore the movement, debate the merits of the movement, and ultimately arrive at a conclusion that is in line with their own moral compasses. It is an eye-opening and highly valuable learning experience. 

COURTS, COLOR, CULTURE, CONFLICTS, & THE CONSTITUTION: Greater diversity powers greater innovation. This precept applies to the presence of diverse people and perspectives, but also a diverse curriculum. This workshop introduces students to the law using the African-American legal experience, both current and historical, as the backdrop. The objective is to provide an interesting and engaging program for students while also exposing them to Constitutional Law and the various disciplines that it touches (debate, social studies, civil rights, civil liberties, etc.). The goal is for students to participate in a deep-thinking program while learning a rich and profound part of American history that is too often overlooked. The workshop explores historical and contemporary issues (such as BlackLivesMatter, the Confederate Flag, police brutality, etc.) well beyond what textbooks cover. Students will learn how racially influenced laws began and how they directly influence controversial laws today. The program also discusses when and how slavery was introduced in the United States, the real reason why the Emancipation Proclamation is important, and they will hear the true stories, not the myths, behind some of the greatest moments in Black history. A significant portion of the program dives into a plethora of landmark Supreme Court cases to discover how race has (and continues to) influence laws and politics. Some of these cases include: Dred Scott vs. Sandford, United States vs. Cruikshank, Plessy vs. Ferguson, Shelley vs. Kraemer, Missouri ex rel. Gaines vs. Canada, Brown vs. Board of Education, McKlesky vs. Kemp, and City of Richmond vs. Cronin. The program will also briefly discuss Marbury vs. Madison, which established the concept of “Legal Review,” in addition to discussions of the U.S. Constitution’s Civil War Amendments (13th, 14th, and 15th), their meaning, and a myriad of other legal topics such as, how laws are enacted, the players in the legislative process, and how our legislative bodies pass and challenge bills. With a very engaging yet easy-going approach, this workshop will teach, inspire, and empower all students by challenging them to think deeply about issues of race, morality, U.S. history, African-American history, and the law.