Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
We commit to an inclusive and diverse community in which everyone can say, "I belong."
We will foster:
- A diverse, safe, and equitable school environment
- Actions and advocacy that support our Core Virtues
- Cultural competence, anti-bias, and social justice
- Intellectually curious and engaged global citizenship
The Board of Directors established a DEI committee in June 2020. Chaired by Dr. Jayasri Ghosh and Erin Kaneko, the committee is dedicated to ensuring everyone has a sense of belonging at St. Thomas School.
"When children feel they belong," said Dr. Ghosh, "they grow up to be healthy and hopeful about their futures. We want to be 'better' each day by examining our own assumptions about what constitutes a safe yet an open community. As a board and as a faculty, we are learning to become more self-aware, sharpen our skills of navigating conflict, and having courageous conversations."
Other committee members include Trish King, Gina Kwan, Sarah Reed, John Sherwood, board president, and Megan Smith, board vice-president.
Activities and Plans
In recent years, St. Thomas School has completed many steps to ensure we have a diverse and inclusive culture in our community. Below is a recap of the work of the board, faculty and staff, and student and family activities in recent months:
St. Thomas School Board of Trustees
- In July 2020, the board held a DEI-focused retreat and welcomed Cliff Avril who described his experience as a Black member of our STS parent community.
- In February 2021, the board continued its learning with a workshop led by Rosetta Lee. From that workshop, the committee worked to create and adopt St. Thomas School’s new statement on diversity.
- In June 2021, the board held a series of DEI listening sessions to help school leadership identify strengths and opportunities for growth, and to establish priorities for the school's ongoing DEI work.
- In October 2022, the board's fall retreat was led by DEI consultant and educator Erin Jones.
St. Thomas School Faculty and Staff
- In fall 2020, all faculty and school leadership participated in a series of two facilitated trainings, two faculty-led trainings and small group discussions focused on understanding and preventing microaggressions.
- Over the 2020 summer, faculty and staff elected to dedicate its summer book club tradition to reading How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi and participated in a series of two formal discussions led by the school’s librarians.
- A desire to continue learning and discussing racism and related topics resulted in the formation of a faculty-led DEI committee chaired by Jordan Funk and Karen Mathewson. The group hosts a twice-monthly faculty-led lunch discussion on DEI-related topics.
- In March 2021, faculty and staff participated in a professional development workshop titled “Take Inventory to Avoid the Encounter” led by Kimberlee Williams, Director of Intercultural Affairs at the Bush School.
- Senior administrators attended the NWAIS workshop Hiring for Cultural Competence to learn how hiring processes and practices can advance equity and real belonging in our school.
- Rosetta Lee also facilitated a session on cultural competency with faculty, staff and board members in April 2021.
- Hosted discussion sessions for faculty and staff following presentations in the 2021-2022 Equity and Inclusion Speaker Series, a practice that will continue with the 2022-2023 series.
- Led the STS community in "Stop and Celebrate" events for Black History Month in February 2022, Asian American Pacific Islander Month in April 2022, and Hispanic Heritage Month in October 2022.
- In April 2023, faculty and staff participated in a professional development session with DEI consultant and educator Erin Jones. This session-focused on postures for effectively preparing to have hard conversations-kicked off what will be ongoing work with Ms. Jones.
- Following the recommendations of the school's accreditation report, the faculty DEI committee is focusing on three areas during the 2023-2024 school year: Curriculum, Community, and Chapel.
- Curriculum: Research existing curriculum standards and evaluate their alignment with the St. Thomas School mission, vision, and core virtues. This may include defining why DEIB are essential components of curriculum, surveying other schools, determine tools for evaluating standards and (eventually) implementation of chosen standards.
- Community – Foster strong relationships and a sense of belonging among the faculty and staff community. This may include setting up opportunities for us to connect and share our cultures, experiences, and more. This may also include identifying patterns and trends in barriers and facilitators to belonging amongst staff/faculty.
- Chapel – Better understand how different members of the school community experience Chapel to identify barriers to inclusion and identify ways to create a welcoming and meaningful space for all. This may include creating surveys for staff, faculty, students, alumni, and potentially parents.
St. Thomas School Students and Families
- In April 2021, we hosted two virtual conversations with diversity consultant and educator Rosetta Lee: one for parents on Cultural Competency: Success in the Classroom, Playground, and Beyond and one for middle school students on Identity, Inclusion, and Allyship. Rosetta shared how independent schools like ours are building cultural competency and involving everyone in their school community.
- In June 2021, we hosted a series of listening sessions to provide all STS parents with the opportunity to share their thoughts and experiences. These sessions will help identify and clarify what issues matter the most to our school community.
- Participated in the 2021-2022 Equity and Inclusion Speaker Series.
- In March 2022, a panel of STS educators guided a conversation with parents and guardians about how we use children's literature to support conversations about race, and provided examples of literature-based lessons in each academic division.
- Students participated in "Stop and Celebrate" activities related to Black History Month (February 2021), Asian American Pacific Islander Month (April 2022), and Hispanic Heritage Month (October 2022).
- Participating in the 2022-2023 Equity and Inclusion Speaker Series.
- In February 2023, St. Thomas School celebrated Black History Month with a schoolwide door museum and gallery walk. Each classroom created an exhibit showcasing a specific person, period, or topic in Black history. Throughout the week, classes went on “gallery walks” to view the different displays that range from the arts and sciences to Black trailblazers in various fields. The exhibits were both informative and inspiring!