We believe that the foundational work for equity and inclusion must happen in the early elementary grades as so much of the socialization we experience — from gender roles to conceptions of race — is embedded by the time children reach preschool. At Nueva, our social justice work at the Lower School entwines and builds upon the work of social-emotional learning by asking students to hone their empathy skills and work across differences. We also introduce students to important concepts such as community, racial identity, systemic injustice, and change-making.
In the first grade, for instance, students dive deeply into understanding how their personal intersectional identities, including race, class, and gender, inform their membership in different communities. They then look at specific local communities that have formed in response to certain pressures, including the homeless, elderly, and LGBTQIA+ communities.
In second grade, students spend the year investigating the causes of immigration through the lens of California history. They consider, for example, how systemic racism has impacted the opportunities of those immigrating here, looking closely at the experiences of Chinese railroad workers, Mexican braceros, and African-Americans during the Great Migration.