Diversity Corner January 2018

By Kisha Watts, Director of Diversity and Director of Admissions – Downtown Campus

Diversity, equity, and justice are core to St.Francis’ mission. We have been thoughtful about providing the community with strategies and tools to navigate diversity. Over the summer, the faculty and staff read Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum. This was a powerful book for us and allowed us to engage in great discussions during our opening professional development meeting in August.

In October, the Lower, Middle and High School faculty and staff had another professional development day dedicated to diversity, equity, and justice. We read three articles regarding privilege. Once again, we broke up into small groups and had discussions about the articles. These discussions were led by faculty and staff facilitators. The Preschool had a separate a professional development day and had the chance to discuss diversity, equity, and justice within their division.  

In January, we brought an outside facilitator to campus for a full day of diversity, equity, and justice work. Crissy Caceres (you can read her bio here) was our facilitator for the day and created one of the most engaging professional development days many of us have had the chance to experience. Crissy did several activities with us, and we were charged with creating a diversity, equity, and justice plan for St.Francis. Crissy is also going to send us recommendations for next steps within a few weeks.

Other exciting news involving diversity work includes a Middle School Black Student Association, a Preschool Diversity Book Club for parents, an affinity group for parents, and thriving student groups on both campuses. We also sent three faculty and staff members to the annual National Association of Independent Schools’ People of Color Conference, which had over 6,000 participants from all over.  

We are excited about building our “toolkits” at St. Francis so that we are able to fully support everyone in our community. While it’s hard work, it’s great work. As we continue this work, we will work with other constituencies in the community to fully engage everyone. Thank you for joining us on this journey!