The Birney Appreciating Differences Program

Developing Empathy and Respect

Known and valued. If you are part of this community, you have heard these words before. In order to know and value every member of our community, we have to develop strategies for healthy discourse about who we are as individuals and how we interact with one another. The Birney Fund aims to create an atmosphere in the School where empathy and respect serve to create a cohesive environment for all students to learn. 
Established in 2010 by Lex and Allison Birney, parents of Helen '01 and Lu '16, the Birney Fund's purpose is to foster among students and adults in our school community an understanding of differences of all kinds, including cultural, racial, and economic. It also allows the School to to offer hands-on experiential activities for Lower School students that provide opportunities to celebrate these differences. 

Support This Program

This program is part of our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion category of endowed funds. We commit to incorporating diverse perspectives, materials, and experiences in and out of the classroom to cultivate a culture of belonging for every student. A gift to this category of funds supports programs that foster an appreciation of different cultures, combat bias, and promote genuine understanding and acceptance of others.

Previous Birney Programs

List of 6 items.

  • 2016-2017 Author Visit with Karen Williams

    Acclaimed children's author Karen Williams visited our Lower School campus on March 29th to discuss her life lived in Malawi and Haiti as well as her writing process. Leading up to the visit, students engaged with her stories about refugees, immigrants, and hope through art, technology, science, physical education, creative writing, and music. After visiting all grader throughout the day, she coached a writers workshop for our budding 4th-grade authors. See photos here.
  • 2015-2016 Capoeira Social Project

    The Lower School is honored to welcome Capoeira Social Project as an Artist in Residence for the 2015-16 school year.

    Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of self-defense with dance and music. Instruction of Capoeira is multifaceted; aside from the physical movements, it also includes use of musical instruments, an introduction to Afro-Brazilian culture, and exposure to the Portuguese language through song lyrics.
    On Friday, December 4, Lower School students will gather for an assembly in the morning, followed by grade level lessons throughout the day and an all-school performance assembly in the afternoon. 
  • 2014-2015 RC Dance Discovery

    During the week-long RC Dance Discovery experience, students in preschool through fifth grade learned the historical, cultural, and social origins of a variety of folk dances, and learned how to perform basic movement sequences. See photos here
  • 2013-2014 Tim Gregory of Nada Brahma

    Tim Gregory returned during the 2013-2014 school year to introduce students to the daily lives of East African villagers through music, dance, games, social studies, and language arts.  During grade level workshops, students created hairpin kalimbas, also known as thumb pianos or finger harps.  See photos here
  • 2012-2013 Potter John Jensen

    John Jensen, a local potter and teacher at St. Johns College in Annapolis, taught students the art of making Japanese tea bowls.

    Students used clay to mold the bowls, then glazed them and completed a Raku firing. As a celebration of both the Japanese culture and their hard work, students participated in a Japanese Tea Ceremony at the conclusion of this residency, using the bowls they created.
  • 2011-2012 Tim Gregory of Nada Brahma

    Tim Gregory spent a week with Lower School students, working with each grade level to provide an exhilarating introduction to the world of music and dance.

    Mr. Gregory is the founder and director of NBP (Nada Brahma Productions) and has been serving educational institutions with cultural arts programs since 1991. Since 1998, he has been working as an ethnomusicologist among the Kamba people of Kenya.

    Mr. Gregory works as a cultural ambassador, endeavoring to build respect and create peace in today’s rapidly changing world. His process-oriented approach is to educate and empower students with a teaching style that leads children to the discovery of their natural-born talents.

Lower School

Preschool-Grade 5
Chesapeake Campus
1185 Baltimore Annapolis Blvd
Arnold, MD 21012

Middle/Upper School

Grade 6-12
Teel Campus
Severna Park, MD 21146