Derrick Gay

Williamsburg Northside Schools work with Derrick Gay










Early Childhood and Lower School educators instinctively know—or eventually learn—that the better a student feels about him/herself, the higher the likelihood that s/he will maximize learning in class.

Moreover, longitudinal research consistently finds that faculty perception is a salient predictor in student self-efficacy and academic gains. For instance, when educators provide positive feedback and encourage young girls to participate in math and science, gender gaps in schools close.

Similarly, when teachers utilize culturally responsive pedagogy and inclusive curricula, students from historically-marginalized groups demonstrate more robust engagement. If the goal is to adopt a constructivist approach which builds on the culture of each child, then it follows that the old adage of treating everyone the same is not in the best interest of our students. Derrick Gay is an educational consultant with 18 years of independent school experience as a language teacher, advisor, and senior administrator.

Mr. Gay serves as a resource to schools, both domestically and abroad, to help create more inclusive school communities. He is a proud graduate of Oberlin College, the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and the Klingenstein Master’s Program in Independent School Leadership at Columbia University. He is currently pursuing a Doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania. Derrick’s work was recently featured in the New York Times and subsequently on the Brian Leher show discussing the importance of integrating all identities into diversity discourse. He has also produced two Tedx Talks on the “Double-Edged Sword of Diversity” and “The Elephant in the Room,” exploring the challenging and often confusing diversity paradigm in independent schools.

This year at Williamsburg Northside, Mr. Gay’s work with the faculty, has included an initial whole faculty professional development workshop, as well as consultancy to a subset of the faculty who make up our inclusivity task force. He has worked with this inspired committee to continue the work throughout the year. There will be visual representations throughout the buildings of heroes of inclusivity, as well as provocations for families and staff focusing on issues of gender, racial and cultural bias, and stereotyping, as well as other related topics. Curricular material and best practices will continue to be researched and shared among teachers. Mr. Gay will also work with the parent community during the year. The Spring will be a time that the entire community comes together around the issue of inclusivity. Importantly, conversations will be had, so that all community members feel comfortable and accepted bringing their full selves into our school programs. The promotion of appreciation, respect and understanding are our goals for this work.