Members of the Parent Advisor Group
Our Origin Story...
In Spring 2018, a mom at The Center for Early Education (Kawanna Brown) and a mom at Campbell Hall (Lisa Johnson) had a conversation many of us have had -- we wondered when someone would try to get all the Black families in private school together so that our children could socialize and we could better support one another. Lisa was the product of an independent school education in Atlanta, GA, where she was one of two Black students for most of her middle and high school education. As the mom of two small children in an independent school, she was naively surprised to learn not much had changed since she was in school. There was a generational experience being perpetuated, and nobody was doing anything to create lasting change.
During this conversation, they decided to do something. Lisa invited a few friends in various schools to lend their names to an electronic invitation to join her at a park playdate, and together, they emailed roughly 75 friends. When 500 responded, representing more than 30 schools, they knew they were not alone in yearning for and needing this type of community.
On Sunday, August 26, 2018, the Brown family and the Independent School Alliance for Minority Affairs sponsored our first gathering in Pan Pacific Park. Three days later, after that first successful gathering, Lisa filed paperwork to create a 501(c)3 nonprofit, which became official in September 2018.
Many families, like ours, appreciated the simplicity of providing a way to get together—no expectations or requirements other than having someone in the family that identifies as Black, having someone in the family affiliated with a private school, or simply by being an ally who wants to support Black families and their experience better. There are no pre-requisites or applications for anyone to submit—just a commitment to keeping things simple, social, engaging, educational, and fun. This was the beginning of what would become Private School Village (PSV).
PSV is a community of support that focuses on positively transforming the private school experience for Black families. A parent-led, nonprofit organization created by Black families, for Black families, PSV encourages parent engagement to instill well-being, normalize inclusive and equitable communities, and bring about lasting systemic and institutional policy and process change that impacts a student's ability to thrive. We do this in partnership with families and schools by increasing racial socialization, racial literacy, representation, and related research.
This fortunate yet sometimes marginalized group experiences a disjointed sense of community in the private school setting, impacting the ability to reach potential. Without a sense of belonging in the school community, behavioral, psychological, or academic issues can permeate life.
Anxiety and depression can be as high as six times the national norm in many high-achieving schools, where children’s mental health is affected by pressure to achieve. Couple that with the fact that many Black students, in particular, are often the only one or one of a few in a private school classroom, and it's no wonder that suicidal behaviors, thoughts, and mental health challenges among Black high school public and private school teens is far outpacing trends among white peers (Nov 2019/Pediatrics). The private school experience has been challenging and unique for generations of Black families.
Yet, until PSV, there haven't been any lasting measures taken to create meaningful change despite the growing research that highlights all that comes with the experience (e.g. the life-long challenges created from not feeling a sense of belonging in a school community due to low racial socialization, covert and overt racism, and little to no representation). It’s no longer enough to admit Black families to private schools — we have to support Black families through the unique experience, and that starts with building community and supporting one another first and foremost. We need each other!
Our children must know that they have a broader community behind them that looks like them, lifting them and providing support in a way that only can come from a group like ours.
After all, it takes a village…
All Photos Below (all but the image of 5 girls): Michael Mayson