Howard University and Sidwell Friends Forge Forward-Looking Partnership

Howard University and Sidwell Friends School have formalized a partnership centered on transforming the civic dialogue about race, democracy, equity, and education among teachers and youth leaders. Building on a collaboration that began in 2018, Howard President Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick and Sidwell Friends Head of School Bryan Garman officially signed the agreement in late August. The partnership will develop multiple projects spanning Howard’s Professional Schools of Education, Law, and Divinity, and the Departments of African Studies and Afro-American Studies. 

The agreement, which is the first of its kind at both institutions, focuses on unique training opportunities for future teachers, culturally responsive teaching in schools, and an expansion of the dialogue on race, diversity, and democracy through a national conference for teachers and youth leaders.

“Now more than ever, the future of racial justice and equity in this nation rests on working with some of the top young minds so they can grow into the solution-oriented critical thinkers of tomorrow,” said President Frederick. “Working with a Quaker school that strives to educate for a more just society and to act on moral imperatives, this partnership continues to be very meaningful for the University. We are excited to share what we learn together with teachers around this country.”

Head of School Garman echoed that enthusiasm. “Together, we hope to deepen the conversation about racial justice in our communities, to contribute to the national dialogue, and to inspire tomorrow’s leaders,” said Garman. “It is an honor to have a relationship with one of the most important academic institutions in our nation, one that shares our focus on the pursuit of truth and service, that is dedicated to the proposition that education should free minds and promote a just society. We are grateful for this remarkable opportunity.” 

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Expanding Opportunities for Teachers

In 2018, Dean of Howard’s School of Education Dawn Williams and Sidwell Friends’ Chief Human Resources and Culture Officer Courtney Peterson began collaborating on the School of Education’s Teacher Education Advisory Council, which advises on issues and trends in education and school systems. It also provides professional opportunities for Howard students who are training as teachers. The new partnership will focus on expanding this arrangement and offering more classroom opportunities for on-the-job training with students as well as career coaching, interview training and skill building. Howard student teachers will join Sidwell Friends Lower School teachers to support distance learning.

Howard’s School of Education enrolls 104 students on average every year. Sidwell Friends’ employees comprises 47% people of color, with 37% of teachers identifying as people of color.

“This is exciting,” said Peterson. “By working with Howard, we are building a way to expand our talent base and to find gifted and talented professionals of color. Increasing racial representation in our workforce speaks volumes when 53 percent of our student body identifies as people of color.”

Culturally Responsive Teaching at Sidwell Friends

Howard faculty will also work with Sidwell Friends’ teachers to host seminars and curricula-development training to elevate teaching methods that actively engage every student. In 2019, this work began with Howard’s Associate Professor of Educational Leadership Kmt Shockley leading several Sidwell Friends teachers on a Strategic Plan grant to study “Decolonizing the Classroom” and to examine historic narratives that reflect a multitude of cultural perspectives. Additionally, Sidwell Friends’ Lower School plans to develop culturally responsive teaching in 2020/21, and work with Howard faculty members Kimberly E. Freeman, Katina January-Vance, and A. Wade Boykin.

According to Assistant Head of School Min Kim, the partnership with Howard University will “provide teachers with access to professors engaged in the latest research and best practices in culturally responsive teaching as well as all of the major academic fields that inform our School’s curriculum.”

Opening Dialogue on Race, Democracy, and Education

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Howard and the Sidwell Friends’ Center for Ethical Leadership will create a summer conference on Race, Democracy, and Education for prekindergarten through grade 12 teachers and students. The conference will be a collaboration between the Howard Departments of African Studies and Afro-American Studies and Sidwell Friends’ Director of Equity, Justice, and Community Natalie Randolph ’98 with the School’s future African and African American Studies chair. Eventually, Howard undergraduates and graduate students will serve as mentors for high school students in order to connect young leaders. Additionally, there will be a summer institute in collaboration with Howard Law School’s Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center, which will co-sponsor a program on racial equity and law that will include active education through moot court. 

Interfaith Dialogue

Sidwell Friends’ Center for Ethical Leadership will partner with Howard’s School of Divinity to promote interfaith dialogue and conflict resolution among young people in DC. Inspired by the work of Sidwell Friends’ 2019 Peace Speaker Eboo Patel, both communities will work together to build shared programs, interfaith-service projects, and a speaker’s forum to promote cultural understanding.

“Basically, this is a necessary journey,” Randolph said. “We serve our students, our students grow up to serve their communities. Our communities build this world. Building communities of respect is inherently fundamental to our Quaker values. Given the societal movements and inequities of today, this world could benefit from youth leadership that values and sees the humanity of everyone.” 

Howard Provost Anthony Wutoh said that he looks forward to continuing to build this relationship with Sidwell Friends. “In the context of the significant societal upheaval we are experiencing currently,” he said, “our actions can serve as a testament to how elevated scholarship and dynamic dialogue can bring to life a better future for our children and this country.”

Both Howard University and Sidwell Friends are historic DC institutions with long-established histories of academic excellence. Founded in 1867, Howard remains a top-ranked private research university and a nationally preeminent historically black university. Founded in 1883, Sidwell Friends is a preK–12 Quaker school grounded in the belief that there is that of God in everyone. Both institutions consider education a shared responsibility that prepares students to become active and engaged citizens for the benefit of the greater good.

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