The origin of private schools in America is rooted in racism—these institutions were created to avoid integration after Brown v. Board of Education ruling because White families did not want to send their children to school with minorities. Fast forward over 60 years and the lack of meaningful ethnic diversity in private/independent schools prevails.
While attending a private/independent school is a privilege, the environment is unique and often challenging for Blacks/African-Americans. Many students are often “the only one” in a class, feel as if they don’t belong in the community, and some deal with covert and overt racism. The experience can leave Black/African-American students feeling marginalized and can inhibit their sense of belonging and sense of self, jeopardizing a successful future.
The importance of feeling a sense of belonging in the school environment is well documented. In Karen Osterman's literature review, "Students' Need for Belonging in the School Community," she aims to address the question, is this experience of belongingness important in an educational setting? She writes, “From a review of even these limited sources it is possible to conclude that belongingness is an extremely important concept. As a psychological phenomenon, it has far reaching impact on human motivation and behavior.” A slew of additional researchers have also noted a positive and significant relationship between school belonging and investment in extracurricular activities, reduction in school absenteeism rates, positive social relations, and positive mental health. There is no doubt that feeling a sense of belonging, of community, yields positive outcomes.
Through our inaugural program, PSV Socials, Black/African-American students have an opportunity to create bonds and build friendships with other students who share the common daily experience of private school and its many associated nuances. These gatherings provide a regular forum to socialize, share resources, (re)affirm culture, celebrate traditions, and more. They are casual, social, and fun, however, they are providing much more to the character and confidence of our children. PSV helps build community and allows Black/African-American students an opportunity to realize maximum potential.