Skip To Main Content

Using identity, connection, justice, and action as our guideposts.

Cultural Competence

Through a deeper understanding of historical and present cultural norms, students will be better equipped to validate and nurture the diversity within our community and feel secure in their own identities. We challenge our students to ask the big questions and be prepared to examine the answers.

View of table displays from around the world


How does identity shape a person’s experience with the world? How does diversity enrich and strengthen a community? What power and privilege do I have? What individual and collective responsibilities do we have to each other?

Students explore these topics at grade-level appropriate paces. We’ve designed a curriculum framework around cultural competence to ensure our students have the ability to work effectively across differences with curiosity, and humility without judgment.


Potomac Opens the Center for Community, Equity, and Racial Justice (CCERJ)



Students’ cultural competencies evolve throughout their time at Potomac. We start with lessons and activities that are geared to meet each student’s stage of development to enhance their listening and communication skills, empathy, and the ability to see another’s perspective. Over time, we begin to facilitate conversations around Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

LOWER school

Students will develop positive social identities based on their membership in multiple groups in society and also recognize that people’s multiple identities interact and create unique and complex individuals. Ultimately, we work with students to express confidence and healthy self-esteem without denying the value and dignity of others, and to express comfort with people who are both similar to and different from them and engage respectfully with all people. Through respectful curiosity and open-mindedness, students are able to recognize stereotypes, injustice, and bias, and express empathy for others and speak up with courage. 


In these divisions, students begin to share more about themselves and their communities. They are curious about their peers' histories and are aware that different groups. and families might do things differently. Students are learning to listen carefully and without judgement, form connections with those who are outside of our community, and can recognize – and give examples of – prejudice and discrimination. Through lessons, speakers, community action days, service learning, and fellowship, Middle and Intermediate School students are aware of behaviors that can cause harm and pay attention to their own treatment of others and take action when they see injustice. 

UPPER school

Student outcomes in Upper School center around self-awareness and confidence in self, without treating or perceiving anyone else as inferior. Our goal is for students to respectfully and comfortable interact with all people and are able to build connections by showing empathy, respect, and understanding. In Upper School, students learn about the impact of unequal power relations and can explain the short- and long-term impact of unjust practices, laws, and institutions. Upper School students at Potomac are action-oriented and have led outreach, awareness, cultural exchange efforts for the school and wider communities. 

Cultural Competence is woven into our curriculum

SASA celebrates Holi

The Upper School's South Asian Student Alliance (SASA) celebrated the Hindu holiday of Holi last Friday. Featuring Bollywood music, samosas, and a rousing game of cricket, the event brought students out to the Quad during lunch for fun times. The highlight, of course, was when students got to throw the holiday's traditional colored powder, a sign of the brightness and renewal of spring. Covered in the colored powder, our students were all smiles. We are thankful to SASA for planning the Upper School's first-ever recognition of Holi, and we're looking forward to continuing this tradition in future years. 

Learning About Ramadan

During our Community Time Assembly this week, the IS MSA (Muslim Student Alliance) shared a presentation on Ramadan to the division. As part of the presentation, they shared some traditions through a video and prepared speeches about fasting, prayer, personal experiences, and the meanings behind some of the practices. Maryam Brin ’28, Sofia Elrefai ’29, Marya Khan ’28, Alya Khan ’28, Emre Kirgiz ’28, and Ayman Teshome ’29 took the lead on developing this opportunity for learning about religious and cultural celebrations.