Core to Quakerism is honoring that of God in everyone, and this belief informs all that we do at WFS. When individuals feel respected, heard, and included, they have an opportunity to reach their fullest potential. As is true with many beliefs, embracing an ideal is certainly critical to its fruition, but its achievement can be evolutionary and complex.
Creating an inclusive and equitable culture at WFS for all individuals is something we have always regarded as critical work, but in the past year have renewed a more focused initiative to better understand the extent to which this culture exists, and the extent to which it doesn’t. Steps include:
Engaged Brown-Gary Associates (BGA) to conduct an Immersive Climate Assessment of our school. As stated on their website: “We are a resource to schools, corporations, and non-profit organizations that are committed to building inclusive learning and work environments. We conduct immersive climate assessments, professional development workshops and consulting services that promote cross-cultural understanding, strengthen communication and build a trusting community.”
In the 2020-21 school year, BGA performed an immersive climate assessment of our independent school community and stakeholders, as well as review feedback already provided to the School. Topics in the Assessment included:
- Philosophic commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
- Leadership for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (Board and Administrative Leadership); including new roles at the school
- Faculty climate for inclusion, mindful of ongoing and future professional development opportunities
- Recruiting and retaining faculty diversity; administrative and facilities staff
- Diversity and inclusion of the student body
- Student affinity
- Socio-economic class and privilege
- Gender and identity
- Cognitive and physical ability
- Community service and service learning
- Parent education
The assessment identified and prioritized both short-term and long-term needs for the School and the students we serve. Click here to view a summary of the report. BGA also led our faculty and staff in a workshop on implicit bias awareness.
Diversity Steering Committee
To manage the implementation of the recommendations included in the Immersive Climate Assessment report, we have formed a Diversity Steering Committee. Members include:
Ken Aldridge (clerk)
Ex-Officio Members: Mike Benner, Jon Huxtable, Julie Rodowsky, Rebecca Zug
READ (Read and Educate ourselves on Anti-racism and Diversity) Journal Groups
Developed by WFS at the start of the 2020-21 school year, READ journal groups bring faculty and staff members together in small groups on a regular basis to discuss a pre-selected reading that centers on a topic or issues related to diversity, equity, inclusion, or justice. During the meeting, the group engages with one another by answering queries, and sharing thoughts, reflections, and suggestions that came about through the reading. The program has been a success at WFS, and Head of School Ken Aldridge and upper school teacher Erica Childs will be presenting the model to other schools at this year's National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) conference.