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New Course on Black and Latino Studies

New Academy Course in African American, Black, Latino, and Puerto Rican Studies

The Woodstock Academy has developed a new course on African American, Black, Latino, and Puerto Rican studies, extending the depth and breadth of social studies offerings at the school.

The new course gives students the opportunity to take a deeper look into Black, Latino, Puerto Rican experiences and history inside and outside of the United States. For example, in an introductory unit students will explore African kingdoms and the subsequent impact of the Atlantic slave trade. By the end of the semester students will have a better understanding to approach contemporary issues involving minority groups and expressions of culture.

Sara Dziedzic, social studies department chair at The Woodstock Academy, added that the class will give greater opportunity to “highlight the accomplishments of people who have made this country great.” This class is in addition to giving space for the narratives, history, culture of minority groups within the core social studies offerings.

“Part of The Academy’s mission is that our students will become more informed and engaged global citizens. The topics covered in our core curriculum, and the electives we offer need to reflect the inclusion of diverse cultures, thoughts, and experiences that we strive for as a school,” said Head of School Christopher Sandford.

Over the years, but this year especially,  The Woodstock Academy has continued the process of making sure multiple voices, multiple perspectives, and multiple viewpoints are presented. This has involved changes in content, for example the novels and writings selected for English courses or topics to focus on in social studies, but it also involves changing the entire approach to content in other areas.

This is a part of The Academy’s school-wide goal for the 2020-21 year to work as a faculty and staff to employ a growth mindset to gather data and expand knowledge in order to develop a plan to improve equity and inclusion and reduce bias. Michael Harten, dean of academics, said “This is the beginning of the process, not the end. We are working through growth mindset and bias over the course of the year as a staff while bringing some of those changes into the classroom.”

The course on African American, Black, Latino, and Puerto Rican studies will first be offered at The Woodstock Academy during the 2021-2022 school year, a year ahead of a state-wide requirement for a similar course to be added to school’s elective offerings.


The Woodstock Academy is an independent, day and boarding, co-educational, college preparatory high school for grades 9–12 and postgraduates located in Woodstock, CT. The mission of The Woodstock Academy is to prepare all students by providing diverse opportunities through a rigorous curriculum and a variety of programs in order to cultivate the necessary skills to become lifelong learners and global citizens.