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About & Subscribe


Southeastern Conference on Race and Leadership
in Independent Schools.
June 16-18, 2023
Ensworth School
Nashville, TN

“Tearing Down the Walls” is a two-day race and leadership conference for independent school students in the Southeast. The purpose of the conference is to afford students from diverse racial and socio-economic backgrounds the opportunity to become leaders and bridge builders in the arena of race relations. Our vision is for students to return home emboldened to lead.

Questions? Reach out to David Whitfield ( or

Dina Marks (

Participating Schools
We would like to thank all of the schools that have participated in the Tearing Down the Walls conference over the past five years. We look forward to seeing you this summer! 

Battle Ground Academy (Franklin, TN)
Baylor School (Chattanooga, TN)
Ensworth School (Nashville, TN)
Evangelical Christian School (Memphis, TN)
Father Ryan High School (Franklin, TN)
Fort Worth Country Day (Forth Worth, TX)
Harding Academy (Nashville, TN)
Harpeth Hall (Nashville, TN)

Holy Innocents' Episcopal School  (Atlanta, GA)
Hutchison School (Memphis, TN)

Lipscomb University (Nashville, TN)
McCallie School (Chattanooga, TN)
Memphis University School (Memphis, TN)
Metairie Park Country Day (Metairie, LA)
Middle Tennessee Christian School (Murfreesboro, TN)

Montgomery Bell Academy (Nashville, TN)
Pace Academy (Atlanta, GA)

Pope John Paul II Preparatory School (Nashville, TN)
Providence Christian Academy (Murfreesboro, TN)
St. Andrews--Sewanee School (Sewanee, TN)
St. George's Independent School (Memphis, TN)
St. Mary's Episcopal School (Memphis, TN)
The Galloway School (Atlanta, GA)
The Lovett School (Atlanta, GA)
The Paideia School (Atlanta, GA)
The Walker School (Atlanta, GA)
The Westminster Schools (Atlanta, GA)
Trinity Valley School (Dallas--Fort Worth, TX)

University School of Nashville (Nashville, TN)

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn to see pictures from past conferences and to keep up with what our participants are doing to tear down walls in their schools and communities.

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The Tearing Down the Walls conference is organized in association with the National Center for Race Amity.



Dr. Frederick Gooding
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Frederick W. Gooding, Jr. (PhD, Georgetown University) is an Associate History Professor and is the inaugural holder of the Dr. Ronald E. Moore Endowed Professor of the Humanities at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX. Featured in national outlets such as "New York Times," "USA Today," and "TIME Magazine," Dr. Gooding is a professor of pop culture who engages audiences on subtle racial patterns "hidden in plain sight."

Dr. Gooding has provided social commentary on CNBC, CBS, and Fox News networks and has reached an international audience with messages of racial healing through the podcast, "Reconcile This!" (

"Dr. G," as he is affectionately known, also serves as the inaugural Chair of TCU's Race & Reconciliation Initiative designed to study TCU's relationship with slavery, racism and the Confederacy (, and is the proud curator of the Green Book historical exhibit at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.


Finally, as the proud parent of two and the humble husband of one, Dr. G is grateful for your presence and participation!

Dr. Bonnie E. French

Bonnie E. French is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands.  She specializes in the research and teaching of Critical Race Theory in institutions.  Bonnie earned her doctorate from The Graduate Center of City University of New York.

Bonnie completed the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program training in the summer of 2017 as part of her own professional development in the areas of teaching pedagogy and Mass Incarceration.  Since then, Bonnie has taught GED and college-level courses in county jails and as a volunteer coordinator at ISP in Montclair, NJ.

Before pursuing a career as a Sociologist, Bonnie earned a BA in Music from Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, PA and taught middle school math and music.

Outside of academia, Bonnie was a founding member of Accord Treble Choir based in New York City. Her latest book, Race at Predominantly White Independent Schools: The Space Between Diversity and Equity "investigates the management of “diversity” at predominantly White, independent schools in the northeastern United States. By conducting in-depth interviews with diversity policy developers and implementers within the independent school community, French explores current efforts toward racial equity and the relationship between racial equity and diversity" (

Dr. Linda Meccouri
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Dr. Meccouri is an enthusiastic facilitator of positive change to empower organizations to understand and unleash their strengths, co-create visionary change, build resiliency and move forward to “planning the preferred future”. She consults with business, healthcare, and educational organizations.


Her inspiring keynotes, Nationally and Internationally, are consistently praised as “motivational”, “engaging”, “entertaining” and “transforming”. A dynamic, energetic approach connects with her audiences and appreciatively speaks to the heart of what helps people transform. Dr. Meccouri is a scholar, a storyteller, and an entertainer with extensive experience in face to face, accelerated, online, and hybrid formats.


Her ongoing research “Making It: Resilience Against the Odds” examines the factors involved in resilience and success for low-income, first generation college students with the social indicators associated with failure. Linda continues this work facilitating leadership workshops, and courses. Dr. Meccouri is passionate about her work with healthcare organizations to improve patient and staff experience, leading retreats, workshops and coaching professionals to improve experience, leadership and career satisfaction.


With over 30 years of teaching and leadership experience at the community college, undergraduate, and graduate level, Dr. Meccouri is the recipient of two Endowed Chairs for Teaching Excellence and is highly respected for her creative approaches to leadership and positive change.


What she does best is cultivate the strengths of individuals and organizations, walking the visionary path with practical feet. Linda has a reputation for getting things done while maintaining integrity and promoting human dignity. She facilitates learning and creates community with a strengths-based approach.


As a facilitator her watchword is “Presume Goodwill” working with diverse professionals to design and deliver programs that transform organizations.

Jasmin Hopkins

Jasmin Hopkins is the Director of Community Engagement at Harding Academy in Nashville, TN. Below, she reflects on teaching, learning, and supporting teachers and students:


"Throughout my professional career, I have carried a strong passion for the work of diversity, equity and inclusivity. Much like a philosophy of education in which one expresses their academic belief system, I have adapted a personal philosophy of inclusivity. The premise being that at all times, individuals must experience sincere acceptance, opposed to token tolerance. Though I would like to say that I have had this mantra throughout my entire educational career, it wasn’t until I began my administrative work as Dean of Culture that I realized that far too many minority students and faculty felt as if they were being tolerated opposed to accepted. This was something that I vowed to not only address, but change. Fortunately, I was able to lean on my personal life experiences and educational background to create an environment that was joyful and welcoming to everyone within the school community.


I thrive in environments that support individualism and creativity while accomplishing collective work. Finding purpose in what I do is often what motivates me most. Building school culture and consistently identifying methods to improve student achievement and connection are some of my greatest strengths. I have been fortunate enough over the years to have spent a great deal of time at independent schools, primarily through my involvement with summer enrichment programs. It is from this time that I have come to see that there is a sincere effort to cultivate a heartfelt sense of belonging."



Friday, June 16, 2023

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Sunday, June 18, 2023



Each school bringing students and adults pays a flat registration fee of $2000.00; this fee covers registration, programming, and food costs for all students and chaperones. 

We recommend bringing six to eight students and two to four adults.

The registration fee does not include travel or hotel costs.

School administrators or representatives who are registering the school and paying for the conference.

Students who are attending the conference with their school should fill out this form. No payment is needed, but you do need parent/guardian signatures and insurance information

Faculty and staff who are attending the conference as chaperones should fill out this form; no payment is needed.

Are you coming to the conference without students or without other members of your school? 

Faculty and staff of any school may attend the conference without students at a cost of $250 per person. This includes all programming and meals, and while the bulk of programming takes place on Saturday, June 17, attendees are welcome to attend all three days of the conference.



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