At Shipley, the @BlackMainLineSpeaks Instagram account raised our awareness of hurtful, race-based behavior and systemic injustices by sharing the painful experiences of black students and alumni in schools across the region. Responding to calls for action by alumni, parents, and colleagues, the Board of Trustees created a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force, which fast-tracked Shipley’s work on a DEI Strategic Plan, while the School took steps to strengthen its DEI efforts.
In January 2021, Shipley’s Board of Trustees approved the Plan’s Preamble, part of which states: “The purpose of the Plan is to help Shipley be a truly anti-racist and diverse educational institution that embraces social justice for, and offers genuine belonging to, people of all races, colors, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, genders, religions, nationalities, and socioeconomic statuses.
The Preamble acknowledges systemic racism at Shipley, takes responsibility for recognizing and fixing practices that perpetuate it, and apologizes for anyone who has experienced racism at Shipley. Most importantly, it says, we “recognize our unique opportunity to prepare students to understand and navigate these issues by developing cultural competency, racial literacy, and to effectively address them as compassionate participants in the world.”
The approved goals of the Plan include: 1) fostering a diverse community, 2) ensuring equitable experiences, 3) creating DEI education programs, 4) engaging all members of our community, and 5) taking continued accountability. The Preamble lays out an invitation for all members of the Shipley Community “to help us achieve our vision as we continue to courageously and gracefully better ourselves, our school, and our community.”
Action StepsIn addition to providing additional DEI professional development to colleagues and the Board, reviewing and revising racial incident policies, adding DEI skills and competencies to the SEED curriculum, and updating hiring and recruitment practices to attract and retain potential colleagues of color, Shipley’s work has included:
Hiring a DEI Consultant
Dr. Valaida Wise brings more than 20 years of experience in the field of education to her practice, which focuses on DEI, governance, leadership, and early childhood education. In her role with Shipley, Dr. Wise has been working with the School on developing its DEI Strategic Plan, including coordinating feedback from the community, supporting the growth of the Office of DEI, and reviewing past policies and practices to advise on future ones.
Expanding the DEI Office
Four DEI coordinators were hired to assist the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in providing professional development for colleagues, supporting divisional student affinity groups, helping implement campus-wide programming, and providing family education.
Forming Affinity Groups
The School has supported the formation of parent, colleague, and alumni affinity groups. In January, the Shipley Alumni Council, which governs the Alumni Association, formally approved the Black Alumni Association. Work to form a LGBTQ+ Alumni Affinity Group is underway. If you are an alumn and would like to join any of these groups, reach out to the Alumni Office at firstname.lastname@example.org