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.
20-21 School Year
Based on input from conversations with faculty and students at the beginning of the school year, our focus this year has been:
- Knowledge: providing resources and information
- Skills: providing opportunities for people to practice to develop proficiencies
- Communication: finding ways to articulate goals, priorities, and beliefs of the school
What does this look like?
In the Upper School classroom
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.
- Supporting individual teachers with lesson plans and difficult situations that arise in classes.
In advisories and community meetings
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 focused 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
- Steven Tejada
- Luma Muffleh
- Dr. Rick Weissbourd
- Dr. Nicole Christian-Brathwaite
- Dr. Jill Walsh
- Harvey Bravman
- Jorge Estévez
- Self-Care, Healing, & Equity-Responsive Practices When the World Feels Heavy – Dena Simmons, Ed.D.,
- Culturally and Historically Responsive Teaching – Dr. Gholdy Muhammad
- Trauma-Informed Schools – Dr. Nicole Christian-Brathwaite
- Culturally Responsive School Leadership – Dr. Muhammad Khalifa
A lot happened in the world in 20-21. Some of the community conversations we had focused on:
- Processing tragic national events that are rooted in systemic problems (Breonna Taylor grand jury ruling, the attack on the Capitol, increased anti-Asian racism, anti-Semitism, and the jury ruling of Derek Chauvin’s trial for the murder of George Floyd)
- 2020 Presidential elections (pre/post)
Looking ahead to 21-22
What are we looking forward to doing next year?
- In our 9th Grade identities workshop, we focused on how our identities intersect and how we can be able to better understand some of the social challenges that exist. We are planning on expanding these identities workshops to the 10th grade.
- We want to increase the visibility of DEIJ work across the Upper School.
- We will be considering what making a restorative culture based on restorative justice might look like for Beaver.
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.
The Beaver Community Commitment
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.