A Place for Equity and Inclusion
When I opened my office door on August 1 the room was completely empty. Completely. I knew it wouldn’t take long for that to change because all of my stuff was on its way from the suburbs, but I took a moment to look around and imagined how I would set things up and just what I could do with this wonderful piece of real estate in our cozy building. I knew right away that I wanted it to be a space owned by everyone; I wanted every aspect of the community that I interact with to see it as a special place, no matter their age or affiliation. As the Director of Equity and Inclusion, I am one of the only people on campus who has an opportunity to work with all aspects of our community.
In my first few months on the job, my office has become the place I envisioned. I have met with parents in what I call the “living room,” which has comfortable chairs and a bench that is both a coffee table and storage for paper products. Every day a group of upper school students has lunch in the space where they have learned to vacuum their crumbs to make things ready for the next occupants. I have met with lower school students who interviewed me from atop of the loft at the back of the room. I have met with colleagues around the conference table as they help me get to know my new community. Every week I meet with the middle school Equity, Inclusion, and Allyship committee, in which we are planning programming around gender and race. And just a few weeks ago I joined a group of upper school students who turned the space into a t-shirt folding/name tag stuffing factory, as we prepared to welcome over 400 students and adults to the Mid-Atlantic Region Diversity Conference that Friends Select helped host at the Perkiomen School.
My office is a symbol of the work I want to do at Friends Select, as I continue to build meaningful connections with people on campus. Sometimes that means a direct connection, like a parent who stops by to chat as they enjoy a cup of coffee after they have dropped their lower schooler to class. Sometimes that means sitting with a group of teachers as they plan curriculum around gender education. And sometimes that means staying after school to have a heart-to-heart with a colleague or student.
I have received notes from people who have done this work as part of their job in the past. I can see the evolution of the community and am honored to take the reins of a program already in motion. I am ever grateful for the work that Naté Hall (and those before her) did as Diversity Coordinator. As I continue that work, I will use the school’s diversity vision statement as a backdrop and the goals from Advance Friends Select as my roadmap.
Our strategic plan stresses that we focus on continuing to hold ourselves accountable as an institution to be culturally competent. My plan is to touch every aspect of the community in order to do so. This means helping to lead professional development for faculty and staff, supporting the work of student and adult affinity groups, attending administrative council and Board meetings, and making my presence known throughout our halls.
I look forward to getting to know families, connecting with alums, planning curricula with teachers, and continuing to shape the vision of this wonderful community. But most of all, I look forward to sharing my space with everyone. Stop by my office in Bailey Circle anytime!