Newman firmly believes that our educators are the School’s most important asset. Day-in and day-out, our dedicated faculty and staff are committed to our students’ wellbeing and safety above all else. It follows that a top priority of our School is to equip these professionals with tools and experiences to increase their competency, capacity, and comfort in leading DEI and anti-racism work. For the 2020-21 school year, these initiatives include the following:
School-Wide Professional Development - Building Capacity
Beginning in August, the School embarked on a year-long training program with High Resolves
for all faculty and staff. High Resolves provides meaningful programing for educators, students, and parents seeking to create a more just, equitable, and inclusive world. Newman faculty and staff have participated in workshops on:
- Identity and Purpose – Aimed at helping educators develop awareness of their own identities and the identities of others, our educators are asked to:
- reflect on how to value their own unique, complex identities while valuing the identities of others
- strengthen their awareness of their own biases and the biases of other
- recognize that bias awareness is needed to overcome harmful divisions and create inclusive communities
- identify ways they can respond to divisive views and behaviors
- contemplate the role they can play in making their vision for an inclusive community a reality
- Microaggressions – Aimed at helping educators recognize the aspects of a microaggression, this training helped our educators:
- understand the impact of microaggressions, regardless of intent
- identify effective responses to microaggressions.
- Just Society – Aimed at helping educators recognize the lack of fair access to resources, opportunities, and rights in society, which is oftentimes based off of aspects of one’s identity, and explore and discuss some of the causes and consequences of these inequalities.
Expanding Our Team – Divisional Community and Inclusion Liaison Leaders
The School has established Community and Inclusion Liaisons for each division who are helping plan and facilitate DEI and community engagement work school-wide. This group, along with School administration, are engaging in additional anti-racist training offered by the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest (ISAS), including the workshops Racial Literacy 101 and The Power of Language: The Importance of Developing and Embracing Anti-Racist Frameworks, Mindsets, and Actions – Word by Word. Learnings will be shared through divisional faculty meetings.
Engagement at National Conferences
Each year, Newman sends a delegation of educators to the People of Color Conference (PoCC)
offered by National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). The mission of the conference is to provide a safe space for leadership, professional development, and networking for people of color and allies of all backgrounds in independent schools. This year’s theme is New Decade, New Destinies: Challenging Self, Changing Systems, and Choosing Justice.
As you might imagine, book clubs are especially appealing for a group of educators. Over the summer, numerous faculty and staff gathered to read and discuss The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias by Dolly Chugh. Newman’s Lower School also has a long-standing book club dedicated to DEI that has been active for several years. Some books this group has read and discussed include Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria by Beverly Daniel Tatum, and Promoting Racial Literacy in Schools by Howard Stevenson.
In June and throughout the summer, as our nation and the Newman community grappled with the crisis around racial justice, over half of Newman’s faculty and staff began gathering in optional racial and ethnic affinity groups to support one another and grow as a community. Affinity groups refer to gatherings of people who share something important in common. This can include a broad range of categories from religion, to sexual orientation, or to race, ethnicity, and culture. Many independent schools have recognized affinity groups as a way to make our communities more inclusive. They are spaces for self-care, strategizing, connecting, and building community and camaraderie with others who share a racial and ethnic identity and heritage. In the coming weeks, we will begin our affinity group spaces again for all faculty and staff who are interested in participating and we will share more with the wider community about what we are learning through this process.