Diversity in Action

Diversity Committee

The Diversity Committee is chaired by a member of the Board of Trustees and is composed of faculty, staff, parents, and administrators.  The Committee meets once a month and ensures the implementation of the Diversity Strategic Plan, monitors long-term program goals, and reviews multicultural education efforts.  This group also deliberates complex diversity issues and provides recommendations to the administration.

Professional Development

Our adult community directly influences the expectations and norms for the myriad of daily cross-cultural interactions that take place within our community. Therefore, it is important that faculty, staff, and administration participate in a broad range of programs that help enhance the development of skills, knowledge needed to effectively serve students from diverse backgrounds and prepare them for a multicultural society. 

Diversity Survey

A survey is administered to Overlake students to help us understand how well we are “embracing diversity”.  We administer the survey annually to 8th and 10th graders to measure:

  • sources of diversity within our student community (politics, religion, sexual orientation….)
  • the degree to which students feel the Overlake School is a “safe place” to develop and discuss potentially controversial ideas
  • the effectiveness of programs and activities provided by the Overlake School to engage our students in areas of diversity

Assemblies and Workshops

Diversity related assemblies and workshops are sponsored throughout the year for students, faculty, and staff.  These events are either generated by the school or are student-driven initiatives.  Featured guests also speak on diversity topics in classrooms, to students clubs, and at special workshops.  Recent assemblies include:

  • MLK Student Assembly with Pellom McDaniels, former NFL player discussing the "Take a Knee" movement (click here to see video of US assembly)
  • Living Voices Program on Navajo Code Talkers
  • Japanese American Citizens League, a four day middle school series focusing on Japanese internment and Muslim and Arab information panel
  • Maru-A-Pula: Marimba group from Botswana
  • Writers Symposium: Sherman Alexie
  • Distinguished Lecturer: Pramila Jayapal on Exploring Immigration
  • US and MS Student Clubs

There are a number of student clubs that include aspects of diversity within their programming: 

  • IMPACT is a group that brings awareness and voice to the minority experience
  • GLOBAL CHALLENGE 20/20 tackles global health issues by communicating with other students across the globe
  • DIG DEEP raises funds to address global water issues
  • OUTREACH is a motivated group of students that support volunteerism in the community
  • ALLIANCE is focused on GLBTQ issues
  • The middle school KIVA club has given out more than150 loans totaling more than $9,000 while learning about global poverty and entrepreneurship

In addition, there are cultural clubs, film clubs, and speech and debate that include diversity topics.

Service Learning: Locally, Nationally, Globally

Experiential opportunities like service learning take vital questions and education beyond the classroom and into the community.  Participating in service is an opportunity for active learning and developing personal responsibility, leadership, teamwork, and character development.  We purposefully provide opportunities that expose our students to diverse cultures, environments, and situations.  Overlake students are learning to make an impact by giving of themselves.

View the Service Learning Website.

International Exchange

We have established sister school relationships in four countries.  With a rotating exchange program, hosted during project week, our students have the opportunity to travel to schools in China, Spain, France, or Italy.  The Overlake community also hosts students from our sister schools.  Accommodations are through home stays that immerse our students in international language and culture.

Project Week

The Overlake community recognizes that education does not take place only in the classroom.  Project week is a week long intensive experience that allows students to explore a topic of their interest, in depth.  Past projects have included: 

  • Dragon Boat Paddling
  • African and Afro-Caribbean Dancing and Drumming
  • Community Service at Baily-Gatzert School
  • Service at El Centro de la Raza (Center for the People)
  • Home Repair in Appalachia
  • Home construction in South Seattle
  • Investigating Public Transportation
  • A Migrant Farmworker Experience
  • Baseball and service in the Dominican Republic
  • The Western Shoshone Defense Project

View the Project Week Website.

Contact

Mahtab Mahmoodzadeh
Director of Diversity
mmahmoodzadeh@overlake.org
425-868-6191 x601