Last month, Counselor Sheri Johnson and Human Development Teacher and Co-Dean of Student Voices Regina Wei established a new support group for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) students at Westridge. After a Westridge alumna was filmed using anti-Asian slurs in March, a student assembly revealed a clear need for additional support among BIPOC students. Many students were eager to ask questions about the school’s DEI policies and actions in the assembly, but the school-wide audience and lunchtime assembly schedule didn't offer the time or space BIPOC students needed to share their experiences and support one another. Ms. Johnson and Ms. Wei were ready to help meet that need in the form of a new weekly support group.
“This is specifically a support group intended to provide emotional and social support for BIPOC students. This isn’t a place to answer questions about DEI, it’s a safe space for students to share things that they don't feel comfortable sharing in the classroom or in large assemblies,” said Ms. Wei. “We had about 20 students participate in the first meeting and that was a really impressive turnout. It really underscored the fact that this resource is needed.”
“I was excited to see the response from students and the types of conversations that they were ready to have,” said Ms. Johnson. “It was amazing to be able to witness and be a part of creating this space where students are ready and feel safe talking about things that are challenging.”
Ms. Johnson joined the Westridge student support team in January in a new position aligned with the school’s strategic plan to increase resources and programming for student wellness and equity and inclusion. She is a resource for all students, but her experience in therapy and school counseling includes a specialization in the experiences of BIPOC students. Ms. Wei is also a trained therapist with an M.A. in Couples and Family Therapy.
Upper School students who identify as BIPOC are invited to join the support group, which meets on Wednesdays from 2:30-3:30 pm. Contact Ms. Wei or Ms. Johnson for more information.