Day and Boarding; Grades 6-12



Diversity Institute

The Pennington School Diversity Institute, developed by Dr. John Daves, provides an opportunity for teachers to spend two days learning how to foster important conversations about diversity on their campuses.

Teachers will also learn how to discuss social justice and diversity within a Harkness classroom, and how to develop the skills necessary to become an expert listener, learner, and leader in student-directed class discussions. Dr. Daves uses a participant-directed approach, modeling the shift of the leader from expert to listener/learner. As participants tackle the same difficult conversations needed at their schools, they will come to understand how student-centered pedagogical methods provide skills for moving these vital discussions forward in school meetings and in classrooms.

The 2017 program will take place on Thursday, June 22, and Friday, June 23.

Keynote Speaker Jen Cort

Headshot of Jen Cort with yellow background

Jen Cort’s career blends her experience as a clinical social worker and educator. Her educational administrative experiences are as an assistant head of lower school, head of a middle school, and senior administrator. Cort’s therapy background includes serving as a counselor in lower, middle, and upper schools as well as in private practice. Cort went into consulting after seeing a need for supporting schools to live out their missions regarding diversity and inclusion so that students can be seen and heard while learning to be visible and use their voices in productive ways.

Conference Fees

The fee for the two-day conference is $350 for day participation. These fees cover all course materials, and breakfast and lunch each day.


Registration will be limited to 25 participants, who will be accepted on a first come, first served basis.

Travel and Accommodations

Information about transportation, accommodations (if needed), and more can be found in our Visitors Guide.

Conference Schedule

Thursday, June 22
8:00 - 8:30 a.m.Breakfast
8:30 - 10:00 a.m.Jen Cort: Hiring Faculty of Color at Private Schools
10:30 - 10:45 a.m.Break
10:45 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.Student-Centered Learning
12:00 - 1:00 p.m.Lunch
1:00 - 2:00 p.m.How to Implement Student-Centered Learning
in Your School
2:00 - 3:00 p.m.Group Discussion
Friday, June 23
8:00 - 8:30 a.m.Breakfast
8:30 - 10:00 a.m.Film: I Am Not Your Negro
10:00 - 11:00 a.m.Group Discussion
11:00 - 11:15 a.m.Break
11:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.How to Use Social Justice and Diversity Concepts
in a Student-Centered Classroom
12:15 - 1:00 p.m.Lunch
1:00 - 2:00 p.m.Wrap-up
2:00 - 3:00 p.m.Optional: Coffee, Tea, and Q & A
with Dr. John Daves

Here is a sample of the administrators’ and teachers’ reflections on the 2015 Pennington School Diversity Institute:

I would describe the institute as a series of vibrant, provocative, and informative (inspiring) discussions around issues presented through excerpts, articles, clips, and comments of participants. I would definitely encourage other educators to come, as invariably they will be made more conscious of the many complex layers of racial and social class diversity in our schools. —Teacher of English, Choate Rosemary Hall

I would encourage my colleagues to attend. I’d describe the institute as an opportunity to expand your social justice vocabulary, broaden your worldview, and deepen your knowledge of diversity challenges and possibilities at private schools. —Teacher of Religion, Chaplain, Blair Academy

Challenging and thought-provoking; specifically geared toward how we think about our schools, our classes, and our students. Yes, will definitely encourage other folks to attend. —Teacher of Science, Friends Central School

The readings you curated and conversations proved to be fascinating and I will continue to reflect on and read more, especially about the layered context of the "new elite" in our school communities. —Dean of Studies and Teacher of Science, Phillips Academy

About John Daves

John Daves outside smiling

Dr. Daves came to The Pennington School as dean of faculty in 2014 from Park Tudor School, where he had been director of diversity and inclusion. There he led a committee of K–12 faculty members who were dedicated to weaving discussions of diversity and social identity development into the curriculum. He had previously taught at Phillips Exeter Academy.

At Exeter, Daves developed the Exeter Diversity Institute, a summer program to assist English and history teachers design curriculum and techniques to teach race, class, and gender issues in American literature and history.

Daves holds a doctorate in American Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a Master of Arts and Teaching degree from Colgate University. He also has a continuing education certificate from Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English.