When discussion on race emerges among faculty, the term “organic” appears frequently. Mount de Sales is organically diverse, discussions in the classroom flow organically without agenda, and a student diversity club came into fruition organically last year.
At Mount de Sales, you immediately notice something which sets this school apart. Faculty have an unwavering devotion to each student’s growth. They prepare and strengthen these Cavaliers for life’s challenges ahead; in this instance, how to have uncomfortable conversations about racism. Students are coached to develop the following critical communication skills in the classroom daily.
Be an Active Listener
It takes practice and a deeper concentration, but serves as a method which improves mutual understanding among our student body. We need to be fully present to understand each other and, ultimately, to serve others.
Listen to Understand
With great discipline, our students learn to truly understand one another when they focus on what’s being said to them versus listening to respond. All of us want and need to feel listened to for positive change to take place.
The power of vulnerability in discussion is often discounted. Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston, says it best: “Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and the path to the feeling of worthiness. If it doesn’t feel vulnerable, the sharing is probably not constructive.”
The beauty of the classroom setting Mount de Sales Academy provides is that there is no barrier or agenda during difficult discussions. Students are taught to feel the fear and do it anyway, to speak freely and accept who their classmates are. That’s the mark of a courageous Cavalier.
Empowered with the proper communication tools, our students addressed diversity with the founding of the student-run Diversity Awareness Club (DAC). They’ve invested in the inclusion of all diversity at MDS. It’s important to our Cavaliers that everyone is heard when they speak. These students never fail to inspire the rest of us here at MDS. Because of their commitment to start the difficult conversations on racism, we now have an advisory committee consisting of faculty, students, and alumni who seek to understand and celebrate all aspects of diversity with openness and respect in our community.
Our students deserve a place to keep these conversations going, because the work toward equality is never done. The purposeful steps taken by the students and faculty at Mount de Sales to address racism ensures this school will forever serve our courageous Cavaliers.
Strong communication skills help students to have these meaningful conversations now and will also serve them well in the future, whether it’s in college, the workplace, or talking among family and friends. Discomfort is a part of life we don’t shy from at MDS; we challenge you to face uncomfortable situations head on, equipped with these newfound communication skills.
Mount de Sales Academy is a private Catholic school located in Macon, GA, and serves students in Bibb, Houston, Jones, Monroe, Peach and other surrounding counties. MDS is sponsored and inspired by the Sisters of Mercy. Since 1876, MDS has served a diverse college-preparatory community of learners—students and teachers alike—who are poised to discover, challenged to innovate, and motivated to serve.