Purpose, Belonging, and Authenticity: Connecting Self, Students, and School Communities





Purpose, Belonging, and Authenticity: 
Connecting Self, Students, and School Communities


Hosted via:


This series includes the following sessions:

Building a Growth Mindset around Bias
Cultivating Culturally Relevant Teaching
Finding My Authentic Self 
Personal Purpose Exploration
Purpose in Action
Searching for Truth in the Garden: Teaching Race and Slavery in the American Classroom

Subscribing schools will receive a $25 per person registration discount for the Friday, April 28 day-long, in-person conference at The Lawrenceville School

Session dates, descriptions, and presenters below:
*Dates, topics, and presenters subject to change*



Register Here:


Monday, March 27, 2023; 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. 
Personal Purpose Exploration

What is Purpose?  This session will provide an introduction to personal purpose and its connections to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.  With activities such as calling cards, life mapping, and more, this interactive experience will begin this series’ self exploration.  Asynchronous follow up includes the Golden Thread activity.

Presented by: 

Jessica Catoggio is the Director of Professional Learning at World Leadership School. With 20 years of experience in both public and independent schools, including the last 13 years as a lower school teacher at Collegiate School in Richmond, VA, Jessica has extensive experience coaching teachers around project-based learning and is passionate about building communities and aims to connect with others through differences and similarities. Jessica earned her coaching certificate from the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education, her Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and her Masters of Arts in Teaching from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

Dr. Pascal Losambe is the Co-Founder, Chief Content Officer, and consultant for Synergy Consulting Company. Dr. Losambe has a Bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from Middlebury College and a Master of Science in Biology from Boston College with a thesis that focused on Neurobiology. He earned his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies with a focus on cultural competence from Purdue University. Dr. Losambe is the keynote presenter and curriculum developer for the United Front Initiative, a city and regional program whose goal is bringing unity and reconciliation to the region. Dr. Losambe has worked as a leader and educator at multiple institutions, has led strategic vision initiatives, and has spoken on DEIB-related topics at national and international conferences. Dr. Losambe’s achievements include the Mosaic Award in 2018 and being invited onto the Purdue University Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Advisory Board, the Purdue University Fort Wayne College of Arts and Sciences Advisory Board, the Young Scholars Academy Board, and the Heart of Character Leadership Committee. He previously served on the Independent School Association of the Central States Equity and Justice Committee Board.


Thursday, March 30, 2023; 1:00 - 2:30 p.m.
Everything I Learned, I Learned in a Chinese Restaurant: 
Finding My Authentic Self

This session features the experience of Curtis Chin, filmmaker and author.  As he shares an excerpt of his new book that addresses stereotypes and conforming through his high school years, Curtis will discuss the importance of his book, both personally and beyond, and how his experiences throughout his life led him to find his authentic self.

Presented by:
Curtis Chin recently sold his memoir, "Everything I Learned, I Learned in a Chinese Restaurant" to Little, Brown (October 17, 2023). The book is about growing up Asian American in the Black and white city of Detroit and coming out in his working-class immigrant community. It also addresses the issues of stereotypes, attending a predominantly white institution, and being a first-generation college student. Chin has written articles for CNN, Bon Appetit, and the Emancipator  / Boston Globe. A graduate of the undergraduate creative program at the University of Michigan, Chin has also received fellowships from ABC/Disney Television, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Chin has screened his films on social justice and public education with over 600 entities in sixteen countries including the White House, Lincoln Center, Amnesty International, SXSWEdu, and the Government of Norway. As an activist, Chin co-founded the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, the premiere non-profit dedicated to promoting Asian American writers. For more information, go to curtisfromdetroit.com


Tuesday, April 4, 2023; 1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. 
“I’m Still Learning about ___”:
Building a Growth Mindset around Bias

Despite our best intentions, each of us who is engaged in DEIB work has blindspots about our own biases. As Prof. Dolly Chuch writes in The Person You Mean To Be: How Good People Fight Bias, “our intentions and our impact are not always the same.” The good news, she continues, is that “research can help us fine-tune the assumptions we make about ourselves and others” in order for our actions to align with our values. Drawing on Chugh’s framework, this workshop will explore how to define bias, how to identify our own biases, and how to talk about bias productively as a faculty or with students. Learning how to have a growth mindset about bias will empower us to approach equity-centered conversations without defensiveness or threat, so that we can move beyond thinking about bias to actively intervening and interrupting it — in ourselves and in our institutions. We will try out some evidence-based practices for countering biases and explore, through reflection and discussion, ways we might each integrate these ideas and practices in our own school contexts.


Presented by:

NK Iguh (they/she) is a fiction writer and educator whose work centers immigrant identities and experiences. They are a Literature teacher and Diversity Liaison at Grace Church School in Manhattan. They also serve as the manager of Education and Equity at House of SpeakEasy foundation where they develop interdisciplinary creative arts curricula. They are the creator of Tidy Mind Workshop, a writing platform that provides mindfulness based writing exercises, making guided introspection accessible for all. A graduate of the Creative Writing Program at New York University, they are currently a fellow with the Academy for Teachers. Their work has been recognized through grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Summer Writers Institute, The Center for Fiction, Vermont Studio Center, Jack Jones Literary Arts, Kimbilio, and Disquiet Literary International. Their writing has appeared in Guernica, LA Review of Books, and This Alien Nation: 36 True Tales of Immigration, and elsewhere. A native Nigerian, they grew up in Houston and live in Brooklyn.

Alan Brown is the Founder of Learning to Thrive, LLC, and a former Dean and Dwight-Englewood School, Grace Church School.  He is a resilience educator who helps schools create cultures of belonging and balance. Alan has 15 years of experience as a classroom teacher in the humanities and as a high school administrator — most recently as a Grade Dean and Director of Integrative Learning at Grace Church School in Manhattan, and prior to that as Grade Dean and Dean of Student Life at Dwight-Englewood. Alan also serves on the faculty of Mindful Schools, where he supports thousands of educators each year to practice and teach mindfulness, with a focus on creating school-wide wellbeing programs that support more equitable learning environments. www.learningtothrive.nyc



Tuesday, April 11, 2023; 10:00 - 11:30 a.m.
Purpose Learning: Cultivating Culturally Relevant Teaching

**Please attend or view the recording of Personal Purpose Exploration prior to engaging with this session**

This session will bridge the work from personal purpose to purpose learning via pillars of Culturally Responsive Teaching.  With an introduction to Purpose Learning, participants will build explicit connections between purpose-centered work and best practices around culturally responsive teaching and diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.  

Presented by:

Jessica Catoggio and Dr. Pascal Losambe (see bios above) 


Wednesday, April 19, 2023; 1:30 - 3:00 p.m.
Searching for Truth in the Garden:
Teaching Race and Slavery in the American Classroom

Founded in 1821 in the heart of Washington, D.C., Gonzaga is a Catholic college preparatory school for boys in grades 9-12.  Teacher Ed Donnellan and his students helped answer a student question about the connection between enslavement and their school... and they found a lot of answers that then led to changes in dialogue within their school community.  The work went far beyond the academic and straight into the hearts of many. 

Presented by:
Edward Donnellan, Social Studies Teacher


Monday, April 24, 2023; 1:30 - 3:00 p.m.
Purpose in Action

**Please attend or view the recording of Personal Purpose Exploration and Purpose Learning: Cultivating Culturally Relevant Teaching prior to engaging with this session**

In this final series session, participants will complete their purpose planning in order to share, collaborate, and iterate their work.  Connecting the personal purpose with engagement through this series, participants will have the opportunity to envision how they might precipitate meaningful change in themselves, their classrooms, and their greater school communities.

Presented by: 
Jessica Catoggio and Dr. Pascal Losambe (see bios above)


Register Here:


These offerings are available by whole-school subscription only.  

Registration includes unlimited participants in each of the sessions, as well as access to the recordings and resources to be shared within your school community only.

Live participation in the sessions is encouraged in order to best engage with the learning and growth offered by each presenter.

What this means:

You can send your entire faculty to each of the listed sessions for the flat fee.

If permission is granted by the presenter, you can use the recording to view as an entire faculty at a time convenient for your schedule.  

Recordings will be available for at least one month following the session.

Your school has unlimited access to this robust series of workshops and presentations.

When you register:
You will indicate ONE point person who will communicate which members of your school community will attend each individual session.
This point person will be the liaison between NJAIS and the school for all topics relating to this subscription series.
Each session will have a Zoom registration link.  Those who would like to attend those sessions should register at least 48 hours in advance of the session in order to receive their unique Zoom link.


Fees are per SCHOOL - A flat fee for your entire school community.


NJAIS Member Schools:

$450 for schools with enrollment of 200 and fewer
$600 for schools with enrollment of 201 - 500
$750 for schools with enrollment of 501 - 750
$900 for schools with enrollment of 751+

Non-Member Colleagues:
$1,500 for subscription series enrollment


Register Here: