You may recall that at the end of last school year, we held several DEI listening sessions for parents and guardians. These sessions were designed to help us identify strengths and opportunities for growth, as well as establish priorities for the school's ongoing DEI work.
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 Cliff Avril, 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.
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.
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.
Author and speaker Gyasi Ross will talk about "Indigenous People, Race, and Education on October 14.
Similar to focus groups, these listening sessions allow the board and other school leaders to learn by hearing diverse experiences, views, and responses to questions about DEI at St. Thomas School. Register today.