Miramonte High ‘staff’ now also includes students


OLIVIA RHEE/Miramonte High School

Miramonte senior Gracia Chen, here with Spanish teacher Megan Flores, helped create the Curriculum Consultant program, a newly implemented project designed for students and teachers to collaborate in an effort to diversify Miramonte’s educational curriculum.

Olivia Rhee and Olivia Uzuncan, Miramonte High School

“Staff only” meetings have now transformed into “staff and student” meetings. Many hope this new academic approach will bring Miramonte a step closer toward diversity, equity, and inclusion in curriculum. 

The Curriculum Consultant program is a newly implemented project designed for students and teachers to collaborate in an effort to diversify Miramonte’s educational curriculum. With a focus on equity and inclusion, each student-teacher partnership will plan meetings to develop lessons, projects, and resources that will expand students’ comprehension of a particular subject.

Co-founder and senior Gracia Chen is dedicated to strengthening Miramonte’s academics and feels motivated to encourage others to participate in the program. “Last year, in Equity Leadership in a pilot class of 13 students, I helped start this program because I wanted to target the most important and influential aspect of school: education. I believe curriculum is the single most effective way to address equity, and I realized that our current curriculum doesn’t do certain topics justice. I wanted to remedy that,” Chen said. 

Equity leadership is a recently implemented division of the Leadership class, dedicated to improving equity and inclusion at Miramonte. 

Through coordinating and planning with Public Speaking and Leadership teacher Kristen Plant, as well as with former principal Julie Parks, the administration worked throughout 2021 to begin Curriculum Consultants in early January 2022. The program was easily instituted, and although Parks left Miramonte before seeing the program put into action, her contributions were essential towards its development. Plant and Chen have recruited a team of students and teachers, including Spanish teacher Megan Flores, to facilitate the program. Since then, they have amassed a group of 36 seniors, juniors and sophomores who are eager to partake in reshaping the current curriculum. 

“I have so many students that want to do it and I have a lot of teachers, but the hard part is matching everybody up,” Flores said. 

MEGAN FLORES/Miramonte High School

Flores is determined to match each student with a subject that aligns with their personal strengths, and due to the ever-growing list, many student-teacher pairs are now becoming groups of three or four.

While the majority of participants are upperclassmen, Flores aims to get students from all grades involved in Curriculum Consultants. 

“We want to memorialize this where this becomes something that Miramonte just does. And in order to memorialize it, [we need to] really to expand the program and get younger students. We have a lot of sophomores and juniors involved,” Flores said.

Students enrolled in the program are assigned to a Canvas course, where they will submit their ideas and plans before meeting with their teacher partner(s). Students are expected to attend at least one meeting each month with their teacher team, which consists of faculty members who teach the subject to which the student is assigned. Through meeting with teachers and performing consulting work, students will also receive community service hours as they take on this new leadership position. 

While some Curriculum Consultants intend to collaborate on singular projects, others are committed to developing multiple projects for teachers to implement this semester and in the future. These projects are structured to fit the specific subject, yet will focus on marginalized groups’ experiences, racism in society, inclusion of underrepresented groups, and more. 

Senior Abby Wallach plans on integrating a deeper understanding of the LGBTQ+ community into curriculum by developing various projects with Spanish and history teachers. “Through the Sexuality and Gender Alliance Club, I’ve had the opportunity to teach LGBTQ+ lessons to club members, but the students who come to our club meetings are already interested in LGBTQ+ history and knowledgeable about LGBTQ+ issues. I wanted to help teach LGBTQ+ material to students who don’t already have that basic foundation of knowledge because I think it’s so important to recognize that LGBTQ+ people have always existed and are an invaluable part of history and curriculum,” Wallach said. 

Wallach is excited to work with other teachers and hone in on other pressing topics as well. “I’d like to expand beyond that to work on topics related to people of color, people with disabilities, religious minorities, and other often-ignored groups,” Wallach said. 

The Curriculum Consultant program continues to build off of recently implemented classes and groups, such as English 4: Deconstructing Race, Academy Equity and Inclusion lessons, and the Equity Leadership team. “The equity work our staff has been doing over the last five years has always been informed by ideas and input from students,” Deconstructing Race teacher Steve Poling said. 

All of this close work between staff and students has inspired many to become involved in the Curriculum Consultants, including senior Clemens Van Dongen. “The knowledge I gained from Deconstructing Race motivated me to observe my classes in different perspectives and build an anti-racist community. After noticing some aspects of Macroeconomics that could use diverse perspectives, I decided to contribute to the Curriculum Consultants,” Van Dongen said. 

Not only are students driven to take part in the program, but many teachers are excited to work extensively with this project. “What’s great is talking to students, just getting a new, fresh perspective, and thinking outside the box and then listening to what they have to say. This really does kind of go back to this goal of becoming an anti-racist school, and creating a curriculum where all students can see themselves. Not only do students of color benefit by learning about diverse voices, but so do our productive and progressive predominately white students because it’s what we’ve been conditioned to within society and through education,” Flores said.

As the world faces a national reckoning immersed in racism, the pandemic, and more. People are rising up in resistance to hatred and pushing for change, no more than ever. With the Curriculum Consultant program, many are confident that this will allow Miramonte to take necessary steps to ensure everyone feels recognized and included. 

“The main goal is for students to be able to get a more well-rounded education that specifically addresses aspects of certain subjects that don’t get the attention they deserve. I hope to expand and diversify education for students to be a true global citizen with a deeper understanding of the different cultures and perspectives around the world,” Chen said.