Director of Community Engagement and Teacher at Riverdale School
Founder of the Citywide Young Men of Color Symposium
I am Dwight Vidale (right), your brother in the De La Salle Academy (DSLA) family. I am a graduate of the illustrious class of 1997. During my three years as a community member of the top floor school, I developed a greater understanding of me and began, for the first time, to imagine who I wanted to be. The teachers were phenomenal, challenging me to be the best me I could be. I stumbled academically and thankfully fell into the caring arms of the adults, who reminded me that falls were part of the journey. Likewise, I struggled with some of the community rules and had to think deeply about how my actions affected both my peers and me. Gratefully, my classmates became brothers and sisters, with whom I still keep in contact twenty years later. In fact, this past December, I, along with a few friends, celebrated a De La Salle brother’s difficult journey to achieve a long-awaited goal. The community that I formed back in the mid-nineties still affirms and rejuvenates my spirit.
After De La Salle, I went to Riverdale Country School and then graduated with honors from Brown University. I entered the teaching profession in Houston, Texas, as a member of Teach for America. After three years, I returned back to New York City and joined the faculty of my alma mater. Two years later, I graduated from the esteemed Klingenstein Program, part of Teacher’s College-Columbia University. I have traveled many hallowed educational hallways, but it all began by climbing those flights of stairs to walk those of De La Salle Academy. I hope that as you continue your journey that you take a moment to reflect and think back on your experience. The difficulties, the joys, those moments that seemingly only make sense to other De La Sallians have made us all better people because we experience and learn the life-affirming and life-changing power of community at De La Salle.
Currently, I am the Director of Community Engagement, the office that provided programming, dialogue and support around diversity, equity and inclusion at the Riverdale Country School. Much of the work that I do is rooted in the spirit of community cultivated at DLSA. Additionally, I teach sixth and ninth grade English; I vividly remember my passion for literature blossoming in sixth grade, as my mind plunged deep into the world of metaphors and symbolism. Furthermore, I am the founder and lead organizer for the Annual Young Men of Color Symposium, a leadership conference for young self-identified men of color in grades 6-12 in the NYC and surrounding areas. The day features workshops and opportunities for participants to learn skills geared towards self-advocacy and academic achievement. The goal of the event is to create a collaborative community of schools serving young self-identified men of color. Once again, my desire to work with this specific population stems from my experiences at DLSA, witnessing the way in which my life and my peers’ lives were greatly affected, positively and, in some cases negatively, by the communities in which we participated. Thankfully, I had De La Salle and, in many ways, it allowed me to grow in a way that other options would have undoubtedly stifled me. Even as I type this paragraph, it is not lost on me the unconscious use of multiple planting verbs, highlighting the way in which De La Salle nourished me into the person I am today.