Equity & Inclusion

Four middle school students working in class

Whitfield's Statement on Diversity and Inclusion was composed by a task force of current parents, alumni parents, teachers, administrators, and trustees and approved by the Board of Trustees in February 2015. The board's official adoption of this statement represents a historic moment in Whitfield's institutional life and a clarification of an essential aspect of the school's mission.

Statement on Diversity & Inclusion
At Whitfield School, we believe that valuing our differences helps us grow as individuals and strengthens our community as a whole. This belief guides our actions with regard to thought, choice, policy, practice, and behavior. As a community, we commit to a culture of active engagement in matters of equity and inclusion, with the goal of developing mindful individuals who participate in an increasingly complex and pluralistic world.

Whitfield's Statement on Diversity & Inclusion does not define the kind of diversity we seek or attempt to enumerate its many possible manifestations. The decision to avoid this level of specificity was purposeful so not to limit the definition to its most obvious and typical applications.

We believe that diversity refers to the various types of people who compose our school community, people whose differences are sometimes outwardly apparent and sometimes not. Inclusion, on the other hand, refers to the school’s practices, policies, and activities which ensure that all of us derive the maximum knowledge and benefit from our shared experience.

We strive to provide our students with the very best preparation for life and work in the 21st century. And the goal for our children must not simply be a “level of comfort” with the various kinds of people they will encounter in the years ahead; they must also be able to appreciate, respect, and benefit from the manifold viewpoints such people represent.

I would describe the Whitfield community to an outsider as a place where you can feel comfortable and included. Speaking to students, teachers and parents, you instantly feel a part of the community. Diversity isn’t only embraced but expected in the Whitfield community. ZOË GOFFE '21

Equity 

 
Equity exists as a condition that balances two dimensions: fairness and inclusion. As a function of fairness, equity implies ensuring that people have what they need to participate in school life and reach their full potential. Equitable treatment involves eliminating barriers that prevent the full participation of all individuals.  As a function of inclusion, equity ensures that essential educational programs, services, activities, and technologies are accessible to all.  Equity is not equality; it is the expression of justice, ethics, multi-partiality, and the absence of discrimination.

Inclusiveness

 
Inclusiveness means encompassing all; taking every individual’s experience and identity into account and creating conditions where all feel accepted, safe, empowered, supported, and affirmed. An inclusive school or organization expands its sense of community to include all; cultivating belonging and giving all an equal voice. 
     
         Definitions from the National Association of Independent Schools

OUR COMMUNITY BY THE NUMBERS

31%

Students of Color

8%

Faculty of Color

6%

International Students

62

Zip codes represented by current students

EQUITY & INCLUSION INITIATIVES

Diversity Awareness Club

Whitfield’s Diversity Awareness Club provides an opportunity for students to explore issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and cultural competence and to contribute to the creation of a more diverse and inclusive community.

Board of Trustees Task Force

In the fall of 2015, the Board of Trustees commissioned a Task Force to explore initiatives to increase diversity and inclusion in our student body and the broader school community. This group, comprised of trustees, current and alumni parents, faculty and staff, met to develop and document a three-year strategy which began in the 2015-2016 school year.

Student Affinity Groups

Whitfield Affinity Groups are student clubs for students who share an identity, background, or affiliation. These facilitated groups enable students to explore and reflect on their own identity, to celebrate shared culture and traditions, and to discuss common experiences, needs, and challenges. Affinity groups also offer an opportunity for mentorship, support, and community building.

Learn more about Student Affinity Groups

 

Professional Development for Faculty & Staff

A critical component of Whitfield’s commitment to equity and inclusion is ongoing professional development for faculty and staff. Throughout the year there are multiple opportunities (both required and optional) for faculty and staff to build cultural competencies and to deepen understanding and develop skills around issues of identity, bias, and creating inclusive classrooms.

The Director of Equity & Inclusion and invited guests provide workshops and trainings on topics such as classroom culture, implicit bias in teaching, recognizing and responding to microaggressions, and supporting LGBT students.

Faculty and staff regularly participate in local, regional, and national conferences and workshops on equity and inclusion, including NAIS People of Color Conference, Teaching Tolerance Workshops, and the Educators for Social Justice Educating for Change Conference.

Conference Opportunities for Students

In addition to the many in-school programs, students wishing to further explore topics of equity, inclusion, and social justice have several opportunities throughout their time at Whitfield to attend off-campus events, including the NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference as well as local speakers and workshops.

Speakers & Special Programs

Whitfield regularly invites speakers, hosts film screenings, and engages in other activities on equity and inclusion topics, to celebrate national holidays, recognition events, and to expand on our curriculum. Recent examples have included a call for community service in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, a community-wide address on the importance of recognizing Black History Month, a speaker for National Coming Out Day, and a special presentation about the Holocaust.

Advisory Discussions & Activities

The Habits of Mind & Heart Curriculum used in Advisory helps students understand their strengths of character and the contribution this understanding makes to their personal growth, as well as to their local, national, and global communities. All of the habits, particularly cultural competence, ethical conduct, and citizenship, intersect with the lessons of equity and inclusion. Through age-appropriate activities and discussions in Advisory, students build skills and knowledge around such topics as developing empathy, understanding privilege, making connections across difference, and exploring personal and social identity.

Ongoing Review of Policies & Practices

We could list our policies such as allowing religious observances, dress code, religious dietary accommodations, gender inclusive restroom, non-discrimination policy etc.

Dr. Anna Warbelow

Director of Equity & Inclusion

"As our Diversity and Inclusion statement makes clear, diversity, equity, and inclusion are all important Whitfield values, essential to our mission. My position as Director of Equity & Inclusion (begun June '18 as result of the strategic plan) allows dedicated focus and support for these values. When I think about what an inclusive and equitable community looks like, I think of a place where all of us are welcomed, valued, and supported, and where we all have every opportunity to participate and to succeed. It is a place where we recognize that sometimes our differences give us certain advantages or disadvantages and that it is our responsibility as a community to be aware of that fact and to examine everything that we do in order to remove any barriers that prevent everyone from taking full advantage of the Whitfield experience."