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Parent Workshop Explores School’s Culture of Dialogue


At top: Teachers Colby Bogie (at left) and Melanie Spransy look on while Assistant Head of School for People and Culture Lisa Horton introduces the topic of the dialogic classroom. At bottom: A slide from the evening's presentation explains the differences between debate, discussion and dialogue.

On Thursday, Oct. 5, Assistant Head of School for People and Culture Lisa Horton and two faculty members explored the basic tenets of diversity, equity and inclusion at Ravenscroft and how faculty and students are using dialogue to develop respect, understanding and connection in the classroom.

The presentation, “Creating a Culture of Belonging in the Classroom,” was part of the 2023-24 Parent Education Series. Attendees had the opportunity to learn from Colby Bogie, Upper School English teacher and Co-coordinator of the Dialogic Campus, and Melanie Spransy, World History teacher and Director of Global Education. The two are trained practitioners of the dialogic classroom, which is a critical part of Ravenscroft’s work in creating and sustaining a culture of belonging for all Ravens.

Bogie said the goal was to help parents and guardians “understand what we mean by ‘dialogue’ — and how we distinguish it from other modes of conversation, such as debate or discussion. I hoped parents could see how dialogue enables us to better achieve curricular outcomes while also building students’ skills of self-awareness and empathy, as well as working toward building a stronger, more open and more resilient campus community.”

Parent Katie Peters said she was “extremely impressed” with the presentation.

“Encouraging this type of open, respectful space where students and adults alike can be seen and heard is crucial in today’s world. It speaks volumes about what our school is doing when faculty and staff across all divisions are eager to be trained in this curriculum,” she said. “As a parent of three Lower School Ravens, I am so excited to see how much this program expands in the upcoming years and how much social, emotional and personal knowledge they will gain by being able to participate in this dialogue initiative.”

Such support is both gratifying and encouraging, Spransy said.

“I was totally overwhelmed by the amount of support we received from families during the presentation and since. I knew that our partnership with [dialogic classroom trainers] Essential Partners was mission aligned, but I didn’t expect parents and guardians to connect with the approach so quickly,” she said. “If our students are receiving support and encouragement for dialogue in both their school and home lives, I really believe that this work will be transformative for our community.”

The Parent Education Series, part of Ravenscroft’s continuing partnership with families to nurture and support students’ health, wellness and potential, will offer a robust slate of speakers and experiences throughout the year. 

Still on tap for the fall is “How to Talk to Your Student About Mental Health,” a Zoom webinar on Nov. 9 that will be co-facilitated by the Ravenscroft Counseling Team and Soundtrack Prevention Network, and Lynn Lyons’ keynote on Nov. 15, “Modeling Matters: What Parents Need to Know (and Do) to Decrease Stress, Worry and Anxiety.” More information will be shared with families as the dates get closer. 

View and download a PDF of the series’ events.