While issues of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) have been a fundamental part of our school environment since opening our school in 2015, we saw a need to advance these efforts and embed authentic, consistent, and enriching practices in a more meaningful way. Last summer, our Board of Trustees Diversity Committee formed a sub-committee to focus on JEDI initiatives. Board members, faculty, staff, and parents have risen to the challenge to advance Grayson’s commitment to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion as founding principles, developing specific plans across curriculum, pedagogy, culture, enrollment, employment, and Board selection processes. We desire that Grayson students of all backgrounds thrive in an increasingly complex and interconnected world with awareness, empathy, and respect for diverse perspectives and that they may grow and develop in their commitment to justice in this world.
The subcommittee’s first phase was to identify culturally responsive teaching standards and professional learning around implicit/explicit bias. With a focus on facilitating growth, our faculty have learned more about themselves and how to effectively use cultural humility in authentic, critical conversations, practice scaffolding techniques, and model the behaviors that will allow our students to be more culturally aware citizens. Our progress continues in making resources available to educators and parents to partner with us in our endeavors.
Our staff, faculty, and board actively participate in an ongoing JEDI discussion group held regularly throughout the year as a “brave space” to learn and share perspectives, viewpoints, and strategies so we can all be more culturally responsive in our professional and personal lives. Our community has engaged in deep discussions on race, gender, and identity after reading books, viewing presentations, and reflecting on current events.
As a proud member of the Association of Delaware Valley Independent Schools (ADVIS), we are grateful for their Multicultural Resource Center (MCRC@ADVIS). Our team attends their annual Cheryl Irving Cultural Competency Institute. This year’s keynote speaker, Rosetta Eun Ryong Lee of the Seattle Girls’ School Professional Outreach program, was a great way to kick off the school year. She shares numerous resources on her site for building cultural competencies and having courageous conversations to impact change.
Dr. Frank Worrell, a member of the Grayson Research Advisory Board, joined us for two community sessions this fall on Intersectionality, Giftedness, and Cultural Identity and Identifying Potential in Culturally Diverse Students. As part of our mission, these sessions were open to the greater community as a resource for Grayson families and faculty and educators from other public and private schools, psychologists, and families seeking networking and support.
Seeing yourself and seeing others in books
Our library installed a fabulous wall of mirrors this year sprinkled among the faces of characters from the many many books in our library (and on our Bookmobile for remote learners) that feature a diverse range of cultures, skin colors, genders, identities, and families that make up our school and our world. As Atticus tells Scout in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view—until you crawl inside his skin and walk around in it,” our library strives to provide books where we can both see ourselves, and learn from the stories of others.
Ongoing work for justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion
Lindsay Andreas, a Social Studies teacher at Grayson, provides leadership and mentoring to our faculty and staff in creating more responsive classrooms at our school. Being intentional in implementing new programs with consistent cues and opportunities is key to implementing change, and Ms. Andreas has created a brief monthly list of JEDI-related resources for our team. “I’ve selected a few relevant resources that people might be interested in for purposes of learning for themselves or for incorporating into their pedagogy.” We invite you to view Lindsay’s recommendations for teachers and parents on our JEDI page.
Planning is underway in recognition of Asian American Heritage Month in May 2021. The Board’s Committee on Diversity continues to consider the next steps to advance the Board’s own commitment to JEDI, further building on their own understanding and application of JEDI and the school’s mission and work.