Helping Black girls be themselves in independent schools

August 4, 2020
Charlotte Jacobs

For the past nine years, Charlotte Jacobs has examined the experience of Black girls attending predominantly white independent schools. Writing with Penn GSE student Ramona Weber for the National Association of Independent Schools, Jacobs details key lessons for school leaders. 

Jacobs is the co-director of Penn GSE’s Independent Schools Teaching Residency Program, a partnership between the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education and two consortiums of the nation’s leading boarding schools and day schools. With an innovative and comprehensive curriculum designed specifically for the independent schools’ unique settings, the program features intensive on-site sessions in combination with innovative and collaborative online learning. 

“Because of the intersectional nature of Black girls’ identities, we believe that a particular focus on their academic, social, and emotional experiences within the context of independent schools is an important contribution to the ongoing conversation about how independent schools can become more inclusive and equitable spaces,” Jacobs and Weber write.

In their research, Jacobs and Weber held weekly discussion group meetings and interviewed the girls one-on-one. Three points stood out that the researchers said provided a snapshot of Black girls’ experiences in their independent schools as well as the methods through which schools can support them.

 Find those lessons and more in Jacobs’ and Weber’s full Research Insights piece