Equity and Inclusion

In addition to our growing multicultural and anti-racist curriculum, and plethora of DEI-focused programming, we also have affinity groups, the celebration of heritage and nationally observed celebration months that provide spaces for learning and connection, as well as space for students to explore their identities, ideologies, and passions. Our faculty and staff regularly engage in professional development and committee work that aid in their support of our diverse student body and holistic life-long learning.

The insular focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is a foundational necessity and integral to the broader focus on the culture of the Academy. Equity and inclusion must be woven into the business of the Institution as a priority driver in decision making, that includes all stakeholders, as we reinforce a sense of belonging for all and build forward from our successes to re-work and invent new pathways for teaching and learning, and create sustainable learning environments in whatever capacity necessary given the ever-changing landscape.

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  • DEI-Focused Programming

    Affinity Groups offer spaces for people from specific self-identity affinities to gather where they make up the majority; we currently have 12 at WA. In these circles, they share community, hold discussions, support one another and observe affinity-centered celebrations in camaraderie. 
    Ally Groups give students a shared connection to show their support for, and actively take action and support on behalf of community members with a different (and often marginalized) identity. 
    Major Programs and events
    Faculty Cultural Awareness for Everyone (CAFE) Seminars are held at various times in the school year to give faculty the opportunity to explore specific diversity, equity, and inclusion topics with students more deeply and build community. 
    Celebrating Diversity - The Upper School and middle school both take a day in the spring to focus on the various ways that diversity manifests in the WA community and beyond. Internal and external community partners, experts, and presenters come to campus to engage the WA community in a day of dynamic, interactive, pluralistic education and celebration.
    Heritage Months – Acknowledge and celebrate national heritage months. Community emails create awareness and educate. With engagement from the Diversity Committees and other campus constituents, we create Heritage Month programming. 
    MLK Day All-School Celebration and Reception –engage members from across the campus community, with presentation, education, art, and a strong student voice upholding social justice and highlighting the civil rights legacy at WA.  The reception brings internal and external community members together in camaraderie, and is a pointed networking opportunity for our students.
    DEI Discussion Series, “Table Talk” - this facilitated dialogue series, focuses learning and enrichment in the area of DEI, on various topics through presentations/articles/workshops, and more.
    Conferences
    National and Regional Student Diversity Conferences give students the opportunity to connect with students from diverse backgrounds who attend other independent schools from across the United States and New England. Conferences allow students to stretch outside of their WA community, meet new people, and explore and challenge themselves with new and different learning experiences. 
    Institutional Committees
    Diversity Committees The Upper School and Middle School diversity leadership Committees partner with one another and create meaningful programs and events that provide DEI engagement and learning opportunities for the WA community, including support for Diversity Days, MLK celebrations, social and emotional Learning, heritage month acknowledgement, social justice and sustainability, affinity groups, and opportunities to network with the faculty and staff Equity and Inclusion Committee.
    Equity and Inclusion Faculty and Staff Committee As chair of this faculty and staff Committee, I have strategically aligned its agenda and work to support the efforts of the Office of Equity and Inclusion, Diversity Committees and the Strategic Plan DEI Implementation Committee, to influence programs and initiatives, policy, the curriculum, social and emotional learning, sustainability, community cultural climate.  It is a space for WA employees to discuss current topics, issues and trends, and best practices that develop pathways that support, respect, and honor students’ and each other’s identities. The Committee focus always circles back to identity, culture, and community, grounding the foundational work for building DEI structures.
    Strategic Plan DEI Implementation Committee Provides insight, best practice, and data, to engage and champion the vision and planning of integrated equity and inclusion initiatives, across every area of the strategic plan.  The foundational actionable goals are as follows:
    • Assessment tied to each strategic area  
    • Each area will have an operational plan that aligns with the Institutional plan
    The Strategic Plan DEI Implementation Committee articulates and documents a shared understanding of language, initiatives and policies that encapsulate the Inclusive Excellence Model, in supporting DEI structures.
     

REFLECTIONS BY THE WA COMMUNITY

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  • Student Organizations

    • Affinity groups including the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), BSU (Black Student Union), Nuestro Vos, Student Activists and Allies, and the Adopted Students Group are active and there is room for more! Your particular piece of our multicultural affinity puzzle is welcomed! 
    • Our students participate in the national and regional DEI-focused conferences and workshops. 
    • WA is proud to support and participate in the AISNE diversity practitioners programs and events and is a past host of the High School Students of Color Conference.
  • Professional Development

    Equity and inclusion in action takes ongoing practice, and our faculty learns along with our students. Faculty programs keep our teachers ever mindful and attune to support our campus mosaic. Members of the WA faculty attend the Multicultural Teaching Institute, where they learn how to develop engaging multicultural lessons within the curriculum and they gain a deeper understanding of personal limitations and implicit biases. Faculty and staff also attend additional workshops and training.
  • Parent & Family Programs

    • We host Affinity pre-orientation programs for students and families 
    • We host parent affinity groups to discuss the needs of students from affinity identities and lived experiences
    • Parents are welcomed to campus for programs and events and to share insights, ask questions, get information and partner with us as we create pathways to support and solidify a sense of belonging for all students.
It's important that our students see themselves in the curriculum, that they learn about people with backgrounds similar to their own. It's also important that students learn about people who are different from them. We like to think of literature as both a window and mirror. We can learn about the experiences of others through the windows reading provides, and we can learn more about ourselves and see ourselves as we are through the mirrors reading provides.

DANA HUFF
English Department Chair