In the Upper School, we are using social-emotional learning practices and working in collaboration with school counselors and the Director of Academic Services to create a safe, supportive, and equitable learning environment. We are always looking for ways to break silos, and organically incorporate DEI work in all that we do—in and out of the classroom. In addition, there is accountability and commitment to this work school-wide, and we review and refine curriculum and teaching practices so that all our students feel supported, represented, and visible in our community.
I know firsthand the enormous impact of not having a teacher who shared my identity when I was a student. At Beaver, I’m able to bring all of my identities to work. Specifically, in the history classroom, I get to disrupt the dominant narrative students have been exposed to for most of their lives. By centering the voices of those who have been marginalized and underrepresented in the historical narrative, all of my students experience and see all of history and not some of it. —Yolanda Wilcox González, Global History Department Head + History Teacher
We understand and support the diverse discourses happening in our community, and strive to elevate the voices and perspectives of students and families from historically marginalized, excluded, “otherized”, and underrepresented groups.
As an Upper School, we:
- Define DEI terms to help have a common understanding.
- Understand where our students feel a sense of inclusion and belonging through targeted individual conversations, surveys, and observations.
- Find ways to use data to improve support for students, families, and staff. This includes data on placement of students for advanced classes and students; faculty/staff connections surveys; and all-school climate surveys. This year, we will administer surveys in-house, which will allow students to play an active role in distributing the surveys, analyzing the results, and offering possible ways for us to grow.
- Have an “open-door” policy for families and students to address their concerns.
- Design opportunities for faculty to connect and build their capacity to support students, and use our “Rethinking Teaching for Learning” meetings to reflect on our practices, seek and share feedback on challenges being faced, and tackle case studies.
- Are rethinking our system and practices to avoid perpetuating inequities.
- Partner with outside organizations and the Hiatt Center to provide opportunities for students to expand their experiences and perspectives.
In the Upper School classroom, we:
- Continuously review our curriculum to ensure it does not center the dominant culture and narratives that have existed, but rather shows different identities as everyday people—contributors to society, persevering through struggle, and living joyful lives. This ensures we help develop positive self-identities within our student body.
- Develop pathways to encourage and support underrepresented students to take Honors and Advanced Classes.
In advisories & community meetings (US meeting & class meetings), we:
- Focus on awareness, compassion, and engagement
- Include discourses led by students, faculty, and guest speakers.
- Incorporate relationship-building activities to cultivate and deepen relationships in our community.
The fall term was focus on advisory conversations through the lens of awareness.
In the winter we have been focusing on compassion (self-compassion
Here are two examples:
It is important that students be able to connect the dots between what is happening in their lived experiences, what they are learning in class, and what they discuss in advisory, classes, and programming.
We emphasize the interconnectedness of people and ideas through:
- Discussions and activities in advisory
- Work with the Hiatt Center to increase civic engagement and provide leadership opportunities for all students.
- Affinity Groups and Students of Color Meetings as well as White Students Against Racism group meetings
- Student Clubs, such as the Black Student Union and Del Sol
- Providing physical and virtual safe spaces, as well as creating a pathway to reporting
- Leadership of the Student Council and Student Representative members
- Workshops and conferences, such as the Student Diversity Leadership Conference
Student + Faculty speakers:
- Steven Tejada
- Luma Muffleh
- Dr. Rick Weissbourd
- Dr. Nicole Christian-Brathwaite
Resources (created by US students)
Gianna Filippou ’22 and Nala Hayden ’22 launched a website celebrating Black excellence. Created in collaboration with—and with support from—Del Sol, the BVR Black Student Union, Ms. González, and other members of the BVR community, the site is an incredible resource for learning, filled with articles, podcasts, music, and more that will be updated regularly.
We are deeply committed to creating a diverse and inclusive community.
In this Distributed Leadership Model, our Director and Associate Director of Student Life and Equity (US) help support the ongoing work of the BVR Upper School community.