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

Last week the ASIA Club hosted an assembly to recognize AANHPI Heritage Month. In the cozy setting of the lower Crossroads, students gathered to view a short PBS film, A People's History of Asian America. The film was followed by a panel of students and faculty, Mr. Lu, Kate Choi '25, Bella Kim '25, Emma Chun '23, and Sahil Sardar '25, moderated by Michelle Ahn '23 and Christian Lam '25. The panelists shared their experiences growing up as Asian Americans, their relationships to their families and cultures, and how they hope to share their identity and culture with others. They also spoke about their Asian American role models and favorite Asian dishes. Thank you to the panelists for sharing stories and personal memories. 

Ninth Graders Visit African American History Museum

Ninth graders visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Wednesday, April 19. Touring the museum in small groups, students found connections to their studies in biology, history, and English. After returning to campus, students reflected on their museum experiences through writing, art, and discussion. We were happy to return to the NMAAHC after a three-year hiatus and expect this trip to be an important touchstone for future ninth graders.

The members of the Hispanic Student Alliance led an assembly last Thursday to celebrate Hispanic culture. The students of the Upper School saw two contrasting samples of dance: Natalia Vilela's ‘24 traditional Peruvian dance "La Marinera" and Peyton Zarate’s ‘23 modern dance creation to Ricky Martin's "She Bangs." The audience was also treated to introductions and comments by Sophia Vilela ‘26, Alejandra Villafuerte ‘26, Ben Levy ‘25, N. Vilela, and Tea Picconatto ‘23 about the individual importance of their heritage, including learning some phrases in the traditional languages that their relatives speak. Another special moment was when Isabella Chumpitaz ‘24 shared pictures and the multiple emotions of her recent trip to Peru, when she got to see her full extended family for the first time. Picconatto concluded the assembly by sharing with us the joys and traumas of her family's departure from Cuba, before singing "Dos Oruguitas" from the Disney movie Encanto. ¡¡Mil Gracias!!