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Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Some 30% of public school and 43% of private school students attend institutions in urban settings, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Emmanuel College has long played a pivotal role in ensuring that students in one such Boston school receive instruction from teachers specially trained in educating students in urban environments.

Emmanuel’s Education Department regularly places students in pre-practicum, practicum and internship roles at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Mission Grammar School (Mission Grammar), providing a pipeline of future educators. Currently, 10 out of 65 staff members employed at Mission Grammar are Emmanuel Alumni, including President Aliece (Ali) Dutson ’05.


"Emmanuel students are well prepared to learn, listen and lead in our community because they understand our values and share them. When pre-service teachers become part of an urban school community in an authentic and meaningful way, it is critical to their development as educators,” said Ali. “Emmanuel instills in its education students the importance of learning about a community so they can participate and contribute in meaningful ways. I know first-hand how this stance can impact your success in an urban environment. I accepted my first teaching job at Mission Grammar 18 years ago in large part because of two mentors who were Emmanuel Alumnae. I am still here 18 years later, finding new ways to contribute and lead in this incredible school community. I am forever grateful to Emmanuel for providing me with the opportunity to learn at Mission Grammar as an undergraduate."


Honoring the Founders' Legacy

Emmanuel College, founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur who view education as "fundamental to bringing about the reign of God," honors their legacy by prioritizing urban education, recognizing its influence in empowering diverse communities and advancing social justice. Through a commitment to urban education, the College strives to uphold the Sisters' vision of creating transformative opportunities for all individuals, particularly those in underserved urban areas.


Urban education fosters diversity and multiculturalism and enriches the educational experience for all involved. In urban settings, students encounter peers from a multitude of backgrounds, ethnicities and socioeconomic statuses. This exposure cultivates empathy, understanding and appreciation for diverse perspectives and equips students with the skills, knowledge and resilience needed to thrive academically, professionally and personally. 


The proximity to cultural and educational institutions in urban areas enriches the learning experience for students. In fact, Mission Grammar students (who are referred to as "scholars") frequently visit the Emmanuel College campus and participate in various events, fostering a strong sense of community.

mission grammar teachers in front of the school
Pictured left to right: Zuleika Eccles '05, Mikey Morris '14, Molly Sloan '19 and Delali Ntem-Agblekpe

Curriculum Designed to Address Structural Inequities

"Emmanuel's Teacher Licensure Program is intentionally designed to immerse students in the community and foster meaningful connections with our partners, such as Mission Grammar and Boston Public Schools. Prior to beginning their student teaching, students engage in 30 hours of service-learning and 90 hours of pre-practicum experiences," said Deirdre Bradley-Turner, Assistant Dean of School Partnerships and Placements at Emmanuel. “As we train future educators, we aim to shift the narrative from labeling a students with deficit language as a “struggling reader,” “disadvantaged child” or “at risk” to recognizing each student's fullness as a learner. We further encourage our teacher candidates to interrogate how school-age students may be navigating unsupportive curriculum and school systems. It's imperative that we focus on identifying and addressing structural inequities within the educational system rather than attributing difficulties solely to a child's behavior.”


Molly Sloan ‘19, a third-grade teacher at Mission Grammar, reflected on her experience at Emmanuel, highlighting the expectation to design culturally responsive and restorative lessons that met all learners, while also exploring systemic structures that have created inequities within urban education hindering student success.


“I was expected to develop a pedagogy that was rooted in culturally relevant practices and the understanding that the challenges that face urban education are not a product of the communities they serve, but systemic racism and injustices,” she said.     

“My scholars are interested in the world around them, and they have a natural drive to be changemakers,” said Molly Sloan '19. “They are always questioning the world around them. ‘Why is that right?’ They have such a great sense of justice about things that are bigger than them. Their sense of wonder and eagerness to change the world is so inspiring. They make me want to be a better person.” 


Mikey Morris ‘14, a second-grade teacher at Mission Grammar, was drawn to Mission Grammar out of a sense of responsibility. “With all that’s going on in the world, I feel like it’s my job to be part of the conversation and advocate for kids who may not have had some of the advantages that I enjoyed growing up,” he said. 


He emphasized the importance of advocacy and inclusive curriculum. “At Emmanuel, we were taught that curriculum is important and that all scholars also deserve to learn about the true history of our country,” Mikey recalled. “I think learning about all parts of the Civil Rights movement is crucial, but during Black History Month, we focus on Black joy and celebration. Learning about leaders like Shirley Chisolm, Raye Montague and so many others helps scholars see that they can change the world by just following their dreams and being themselves. Scholars are not discouraged by hearing about the history of hate in our country. Instead, they are inspired and motivated to continue the change that was started by the leaders we are reading about.”


Since her pre-practicum days at Mission Grammar, Molly has been impressed by the range of diverse learners and the scholars’ sense of social justice. Their curiosity was influential in Molly’s decision to teach at Mission.


“My scholars are interested in the world around them, and they have a natural drive to be changemakers,” she said. “They are always questioning the world around them. ‘Why is that right?’ They have such a great sense of justice about things that are bigger than them. Their sense of wonder and eagerness to change the world is so inspiring. They make me want to be a better person.” 


Zuleika Eccles ‘05, who joined Mission Grammar in 2020 as Director of Scholar and Family Support and now serves as the Dance and Movement Specialist, highlighted the significance of representation in education. "Mission Grammar scholars benefit from having a teacher who looks like them and who meets them where they are academically and socially. I love being in an environment where together we can cultivate all the positive, pure energy the scholars innately have inside themselves,” she said. 


Her Dance and Movement classes provide scholars with a holistic learning experience that nurtures their physical, emotional and creative development. The curriculum encourages self-expression, cultivates healthy habits and fosters a sense of community, promoting lifelong well-being.


Delali Ntem-Agblekpe enjoys a deep connection to both Emmanuel College and Mission Grammar. She’s a kindergarten teacher at Mission Grammar and leads the Lynch Early Childhood workshop at Emmanuel College periodically with Amanda Kelly, the director of Universal PreK at Mission Grammar. Her youngest child, Abigail, attends the school, and her eldest, Joana, is a student at Emmanuel College, studying psychology and business. Joana also volunteers in the after-school program at Mission Grammar. 


Delali doesn’t consider teaching at Mission Grammar a job — it’s a labor of love. “When I come to Mission Grammar, I feel like I'm leaving my first family and coming to my second family,” she said. “I love the sense of community, the collaboration and support.” She perceives urban education as a chance for scholars and educators to mutually enrich their learning experiences. “We come from different places and backgrounds, and by sharing these experiences and removing barriers and misconceptions, we have ‘wow moments’ that allow us to learn and grow from each other.”


Emmanuel College's commitment to urban education not only prepares educators for diverse classrooms but also empowers students to become agents of change in their communities.