Practice and Transforming Culture
Practice is both a noun and a verb in this process of learning. In this stage of our learning, we are thinking/reflecting not only about our educational practices, but also embodying a deliberate practice and receiving feedback. We understand that it is only through practice and the setting of goals that we can begin to shift a culture and evolve in our own teaching and learning. We aspire to be a learning organization acting as agents of cultural change, not complicit bystanders to tradition. We cannot do the Work for the students if we do not do the Work on ourselves.
Through the leadership of Mr. Stellato, Mr. McKinley, the Leadership Team, the consultancy of Olive Branch, continued conversations with our Black community, collaboration with CMDT and work with the Chairs, we are engaging in practice that asks us to reassess our mission and our community learning goals and to measure our progress in dismantling systems of oppression as outlined in Mr. Stellato’s plans.
Ongoing work of learning takes time and practice and constant reflection. In shifting a culture, we’re working on not only transforming and self-monitoring our learning community, but also ourselves as individuals. By creating habits of heart, mind, body and practice, we will work towards habituating a more compassionate, inclusive, accountable and equitable culture that honors the stories of our Black students, as well as the many others who have felt marginalized and silenced in the past.
March 2021 Update
Second All-School Faculty Workshop
On Monday, 1/11/21, our first all-school faculty meeting of 2021 picked up where we left off in the fall. In continuing our focus on race, we revisited the fall meeting with a memory recall, then recounted the individual work we’ve all done since then, focusing on the call to action. Additionally, we reflected on how our continued self-work has shifted our understanding of our personal racial identities, as well as those of others.
DEI Committee Meeting of the Alumni Council
On Wednesday, 1/13/21, from 7:30-8:30, the DEI committee of the Alumni Council, chaired by Zaneta Shannon Chambers ‘95, had its first meeting. The meeting consisted of introductions, discussion of plans and purpose, and the roll out of the alumni self-identification survey to assist with collecting accurate data on how PDS alumni self identify. The form has been distributed to over 50% of PDS alumni.
On Wednesday, 1/20, during our Upper School assembly period, the Community Multicultural Development Team (CMDT) organized a multidivisional program that focused on King’s six principles of nonviolence. The goal was to move away from King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and focus on the full range of who he was as a human being, how our heroes don’t have to be perfect, and the strategy and intentionality that went into organizing protests.
A Reflection on National Events Assembly
On Thursday, 1/21/21, Acting Head of the Upper School Chris Rhodes addressed the Upper School after the uprising that took place on at the United States Capitol on January 6. In his assembly, Rhodes reflected on national events and how we can move forward as a community. The main lesson was to move beyond tribalism and hyper-partisanship by facing issues with humility and a desire to create a just society.
Middle School DEI Faculty Meeting
In addition to the all-school faculty meetings, we’re also organizing DEI training departmentally and divisionally. On Tuesday, 1/26, Middle School DEI representative and history teacher, Victor Cirilo led a divisional meeting that focused on name stories, introducing the framework of “mirrors and windows.”
Holocaust Remembrance Day Assembly
On Friday, 1/29, Rabbi David Levy addressed grades 8-12 during the Upper School assembly period. In line with conversations from the fall, Rabbi Levy, son of a Holocaust survivor, shared his father’s story of fear, hate, bravery, love, and action. At every moment when Mr. Levy needed someone to help him, someone did, a message that resonated well with our students who have a genuine interest in being upstanders. The CMDT focused their January Newsletter on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. We look forward to cementing our relationship with Rabbi Levy moving forward.
CMDT successfully launched a Middle School affinity group survey to help guide our next steps in offering specific spaces for students. New affinity groups will alleviate the pressure on the larger students of color (SoC) group that tried to address the needs of all. Julie Cucchi, Director of Admission and Financial Aid, and the admissions office successfully launched a race and ethnicity self-identification survey for current families to provide us with accurate data on how our student body identifies. Standards of Conduct Chairs Michelle Simonds and Elizabeth Monroe successfully administered a survey on the use of Equitable Discipline in all three divisions.
Association of Independent Schools in New England (AISNE) Middle School Diversity Conference
On Saturday, 2/6/21, 20 Middle School students attended the AISNE Middle School Diversity Conference. This year’s conference, hosted virtually by The Rivers School in Massachusetts, offered workshops on identity, social justice skills and self-reflection, providing students the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversation, collaboration and connection with Middle School students from other schools.
On Monday, 2/8/21, students of G.L.O.W (Gay, Lesbian or Whatever) participated in a Q&A with the community. The panel allowed community members to ask questions about LGBTQ+ issues and gave panelists a chance to share their stories and experiences. Topics ranged from how to identify in terms of pronouns to how teachers can best support LGBTQ+ students in the classroom.
Uncovering Mercer County's Forgotten Past
On Tuesday, 2/9/21, Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills educated the community (grades 3-12) on the history of the enslavement of captured Africans in Mercer County. Many classes followed up with thoughtful conversations and reflections on the informative presentation. CMDT focused its February Newsletter on Buck’s and Mills’ visit by focusing on teaching and learning resources.
Lower School Faculty Meeting
On Wednesday, 2/17/21, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Tony McKinley, visited the Lower School division meeting to provide an update on the School’s progress thus far. After discussing Facing Forward, the progress of the seven working groups, and the departmental training led by Dr. Artis of Olive Branch Educators, McKinley fielded questions from the division
Lunar New Year Celebration
The Chinese Club, along with the Chinese Parents Association and CMDT, hosted our annual Lunar New Year Celebration on Thursday, 2/18, from 4-5pm. The student-led YouTube Premiere celebration highlighted the important roles that family and tradition play in our lives. This video currently has over 700 views. Additionally, Paul Stellato announced that Lunar New Year will be an official holiday on our school calendar.
Black History Month
Chef Brian and Flik dedicated each Thursday of the month to a meal that highlighted Black culture and offered recipes, short videos, stories, and interviews on Black chefs and the evolution of historic Black dishes. Black Student Union (BSU) faculty advisor Alana Allen and Upper School librarian Amy Matlack organized a Black history timeline in the theater lobby with an interactive website for remote learners. Allen also oversees a BSU Instagram account curated by the leaders of the BSU that educates its followers by promoting information on lesser known Black figures who have contributed to history.
Black History Month Assembly
The CMDT and BSU hosted our annual Black History Month celebration on Monday, 2/22, from 5-6pm. This year, we extended the virtual invitation to alumni. Close to 200 people logged on to witness stories and readings from all three divisions. Students and faculty honored members of their families with photographs and heartfelt tributes. Lastly, we were grateful to hear from Keynote Michael Reed ‘03, Chief of Staff to Congressman Eric Swalwell. In the event that you were unable to attend, here’s the link to the recording: Princeton Day School Black History Month Celebration 2021.
November 2020 Update
An inclusive community is one that allows access for all. As a result, we have made sure that all members of our Buildings and Grounds staff now have access to Princeton Day School email accounts.
The Community and Multicultural Development Team’s (CMDT) web page was updated with a tab addressing religious discrimination, specifically anti-Semitism, and a tab addressing anti-Chinese behavior. Resources were added to support both categories. Additionally, the CMDT has begun publishing an internal newsletter to keep faculty updated on relevant articles and DEI-related resources. The next issue will focus on Native American History Month. These newsletters are made possible through the ongoing partnership with our librarians.
All Task Force chairs have completed the three training sessions by Dr. Artis. Each group has committed to two 90-minute meetings per month to begin completing the tasks outlined in Facing Forward. All groups will reconvene in January with an opportunity to present a progress report to members of the Leadership Team.
Dr. Artis has initiated training sessions with our 10 departments. All members will complete a series of 60-minute sessions covering topics such as “Talking about Race,” “Implicit Biases,” and “AntiSemitism and Other Forms of Religious Discrimination.” A review of the current curriculum will also be included.
POLICIES, PROCEDURES, AND PROGRAMS:
Election week began with Acting Head of the Upper School Chris Rhodes explaining the Electoral College and contextualizing this election’s issues for the Middle and Upper School. November 4th served as a reflection day. We asked members of our community to pause and reflect on all of the events that contributed to the historic election. The next two days were spent unpacking the election in Gatherings by grade and more intimate groups by advisory. Additionally, adult affinity groups created space for adults to gather, reflect, and process.
Although we were unable to gather in person for our annual Diwali celebration, CMDT organized a virtual celebration with the help of the Upper School’s India Club and APIDA. A video featuring students from all three divisions was shared on the CMDT website. On November 23, India Club and APIDA leaders celebrated Diwali during an Upper School Gathering. Middle School Art Teacher Deva Watson also created a Diwali art piece for the Middle School. This year was the first time that PDS acknowledged this holiday as a “nothing due” day.
After a series of training sessions with Dr. Artis, Upper School Affinity Groups began with informal, interest meetings on Tuesday, 11/6. All Affinity Groups began their formal meetings on 11/19 with the expectation that they would meet every other cycle on Day 6. Additionally, Affinity Group Leaders met to discuss the results of the student survey, which revealed the need for a White Consciousness Affinity Group. Thankfully, a few Upper School faculty members have volunteered to facilitate this group and have agreed to undergo training this year with the goal of launching the new affinity group next fall.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH
Although we are months away from February, there has been renewed energy and commitment from members of our alumni community who identify as Black. CMDT was able to confirm Michael D. Reed ’03 for the event. Michael is a senior policy and political professional with more than a decade of experience on the federal, state, and local levels. Michael is currently Chief of Staff for Congressman Eric Swalwell, representing California’s East Bay area.
As the national focus on the pandemic continues to intensify, so too will our attention to health and safety guidelines in the building. Our recent decision to switch to remote learning through November break should serve as a reminder of our priorities. Additionally, it remains the case that we’ll continue to hold the conversation about diversity, equity, and inclusion in parallel to that of the virus. The systems that we look to undo are a constant that have just been given a spotlight. We remain grateful for the willingness of our community to partner with us in this necessary endeavor
All working groups have been populated with members and chairs, totaling over 50 selfless members of our community. Chairs meet with Dr. Artis and Mr. Stellato twice a month, while scheduling their own meetings with the members of their respective groups. We’ve also scheduled three official training sessions focused on DEI skill development, two of which have already taken place. The last one is scheduled for October 22nd.
All racial/ethnic focus groups for parents, faculty, staff, alumni, and Upper School students have been completed by Dr. Artis.
STUDENT AFFINITY GROUPS:
A hold has been put on all affinity groups due to the feedback received by members of the community. Dr. Artis and Mr. McKinley have met with the faculty leaders of all affinity groups to discuss common experiences, language, training (for adult facilitators), and a feedback survey for the students. The data from the survey will guide our next steps.
FACULTY/STAFF AFFINITY GROUPS:
We created five faculty/staff affinity groups:
- Building Antiracist White Educators (BARWE)
- White Consciousness Group
- Latinx and Hispan@Faculty and Staff Affinity Group (LHFSA)
- Black Faculty and Staff Affinity Group
- APIDA Faculty group
The first round of a series of meetings with department chairs have been scheduled and completed. The goal was to listen, discuss areas of confidence, need for support, and specific DEI-focused goals. The feedback collected will guide the next steps.
FACULTY AND STUDENTS
Two DEI-focused workshops took place during opening days for new faculty and returning faculty. Both focused on identifying race, the importance of working on the self, recognizing anxiety in the body, sharing personal narratives on when we first became aware of our racial identities, and how race shows up at Princeton Day School.
We also facilitated DEI workshops on race and identity with our ninth-grade class. Additionally, 10 Middle School seventh and eighth graders had the opportunity to attend the Middle School Equity and Inclusion Summit with keynote speaker Dr. Rodney Glasgow, head of Sandy Springs Friends School on October 15th via Zoom.
Two book clubs and one webinar were created and began the week of October 5th. The book clubs focused on race, while the webinar focused on religious discrimination.
Series One - Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America - Jennifer Harvey.
Series Two - I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness - Austin Channing Brown.
Series Three - Religious and Cultural Discrimination - We will begin with a discussion of antisemitism and then will then consider other forms of religious/cultural discrimination that is experienced by non-Chrisitians living in the U.S.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
The first step of the training, a climate survey created by Dr. Artis, was completed by members of the Board. The data collected will guide the next steps for the Board of Trustees.
We created and organized multi-divisional celebrations of Latinx Heritage Month to honor members of our community who identify as Hispanic or Latinx. Also, regarding school-wide policy, both Diwali and Eid al-Fitr were added to our list of religious observances that fall under “nothing due” days, preventing our students from choosing between honoring their faiths and completing school work.
COMMUNITY MULTICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT TEAM (CMDT)
The Community Multicultural Development Team updated its mission statement and website to more accurately reflect Princeton Day School’s commitment to DEI work. Additionally, Darling Cerna ‘13 was announced as the Upper School representative.
We’re proud of the advances that we’ve made thus far, while remaining fully aware of the amount of work that’s still to be done. Fortunately, the long road ahead is accompanied by your unwavering support and selflessness in volunteering your time and feedback. You can expect periodic updates on the progress that we continue to make as a community. Please feel free to email us with comments or concerns. Your involvement in this process remains invaluable. Here’s to change.
QUESTIONS OR FEEDBACK?
Princeton Day School (PDS) is unequivocally committed to creating and preserving a diverse, inclusive and equitable community. This commitment respects the inherent value of every individual and acknowledges that diversity is essential to creating a robust learning environment. PDS therefore admits students, welcomes families and hires faculty and staff regardless of race, age, ability, sexual orientation, class, gender, ethnicity, national origin and religion. In addition, PDS has an affirmative duty to ensure that its curricula, athletic programs, extracurricular opportunities, and community experiences are equitably available and instill respect for the experiences, perspectives and contributions of our diverse community.
Responsibility to Create a Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Community
To fulfill our obligation to create a diverse, equitable and inclusive community in which all members are seen, challenged, affirmed, respected and valued, PDS is committed to the following actions:
- Hiring and retaining a diverse student body, faculty and staff
- Establishing curricula that allows students to understand and appreciate the experiences and contributions of diverse people across disciplines; and avoids stereotyping, discrimination, bias and prejudice
- Training faculty to create and maintain safe and welcoming environments in their classrooms and beyond
- Supporting affinity groups with time, space and resources
- Ensuring equitable access to educational, athletic and extracurricular opportunities for students
- Fostering an inclusive culture by establishing community norms that are uniformly enforced
- Prohibiting harassment based on a person’s race, age, ability, sexual orientation, class, gender, ethnicity, national origin and religion
Defining Discriminatory Harassment
Discriminatory harassment is belittling or abusive conduct based on a person’s actual or perceived race, age, ability, sexual orientation, class, gender, ethnicity, national origin and religion. Harassing conduct can take various forms. It may be direct and explicit, or it may be more subtle and insidious. It may be behavior that is pervasive and repetitive, or it may be behavior that occurs only once but is particularly severe.
It is the responsibility of all members of the community to ensure that their words, actions, and interactions with others promote respect and trust, whether on campus, at a school sponsored event or online. Attempts to justify improper behavior as a “prank” or “joke” do not change its inappropriate nature. Discrimination has no place in a school community, regardless of the subjective intent of those perpetuating it.
Discriminatory harassment includes any communication or action that attacks or demeans a person or a group on the basis of their race, age, ability, sexual orientation, class, gender, ethnicity, national origin and religion. The following are examples of discriminatory harassment:
- Slurs, taunts, stereotypes or name-calling
- Physical threats, attacks or other hateful conduct
- Creating a hostile environment through overt or subtle acts that deny or substantially limit a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from a program or activity
This list is illustrative, not exhaustive. Members of the community should seek advice and assistance from advisors, class deans, school counselors, a division head, or the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in any circumstances in which they are made to feel uncomfortable by the behaviors of another based upon their race, age, ability, sexual orientation, class, gender, ethnicity, national origin and religion.
Legal Definitions and School Policy
Stricter standards of behavior than those provided by law may apply under the policies of PDS in order that we may prevent discrimination and create an inclusive community. PDS reserves the right to apply disciplinary measures and other corrective action in a case of a single expression, act or gesture, if the School determines that it is of sufficient severity to warrant disciplinary measures or other remedial action. Conduct need not meet the legal definitions of harassment, discrimination, hazing or bullying to violate the School’s expectations for appropriate behavior and to be actionable.
Any individual who feels that she or he has been subject to or is aware of possible discriminatory harassment may consult with the Head of School; the Associate Head of School; a Division Head; the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; or a member of the Community and Multicultural Development Team. Students may also reach out to the Dean of Students, a class dean, an advisor, or other trusted adult in the community. Faculty and staff may also reach out to the Director of Human Resources.
Any member of the administration, faculty or staff who witnesses or otherwise becomes aware of discriminatory harassment or who becomes aware of retaliation against anyone who provides information concerning a violation of this policy, is required to report it immediately to the Head of School, the Associate Head of School, a division head or the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
Response to Complaints
Upper School Students
Because allegations of discriminatory harassment often involve sensitive matters, investigation and adjudication will occur through adult-mediated channels: principally through the Investigative Board (IB), which will make recommendations to the Head of School on an appropriate school response. For cases involving Upper School Students, the IB will include the Associate Head of School; the Head of Upper School; and the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
The investigation will include interviewing all relevant parties (the reporting party, the alleged victim, the alleged perpetrator, any relevant witnesses) and gathering any relevant physical evidence. The IB will then deliberate and make a judgment as to whether an act of discriminatory harassment occurred. The IB will then make a recommendation to the Head of School on an appropriate school response, which can include reforming policies; modifying curriculum; mandating training and education; taking appropriate disciplinary action; developing restorative practices that educate and rebuild relationships; and supporting victims. In severe cases, disciplinary action may include temporary removal from the community or separation.
Middle School Students
Our Middle School students occupy a broad developmental spectrum, with our 5th graders still very close to their Lower School years and our 7th and 8th graders beginning to emerge as young adults. As we investigate allegations in
the Middle School of harassment, discriminatory behavior or any actions or speech designed to demean or diminish the standing of any member of our community, we do so in a way that is mindful of the maturity of the students involved. However, it is expected that all students in the Middle School will treat one another with respect and civility and make every effort to understand their role in promoting a safe learning environment.
When a report of discriminatory behavior involving a Middle School student is brought forward, the Associate Head of School, the Head of Middle School, the appropriate grade dean and the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will investigate the incident and provide a recommendation to the Head of School. They may choose to consult with the Chair and Middle School representative of the Community and Multicultural Development Team. A School response may include reprimand, probation or separation.
Lower School Students
In working with its Lower School students, Princeton Day School carefully considers the age and maturity of students in responding to incidents that may be considered harassment or incivility. As it endeavors to address the alleged behavior and educate the student or students involved, it is always mindful of the sensitive nature of these matters and is committed to proceeding with a high degree of care and discretion. As is the case with their peers in the Middle and Upper Schools, it is expected that all students in the Lower School will treat one another with respect and civility; that they will refrain from demeaning or diminishing any of their peers; and that they will make every effort to understand their role in promoting a safe learning environment.
A report in the Lower School of harassment, incivility or similar behavior will be investigated by the Associate Head of School; the Head of Lower School; the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; and the Lower School Counselor. They may choose to consult with the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the Lower School representative of the Community and Multicultural Development Team. The Head of Lower School is responsible for implementing any recommendations arising from the investigation.
Adult Community Members
Consistent with the Non-Discriminiation/Non-Harassment Policy detailed in the Faculty and Staff Handbook, the Head of School will designate the Associate Head of School, the appropriate Division Head, and the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to investigate allegations of Discriminatory Conduct involving faculty, staff, administrators and other adults in the PDS community.
At the conclusion of its investigation, the Investigative Board will make a recommendation to the Head of School. The recommendation may include modifying policy and curriculum; mandating training and education; developing restorative practices that educate and rebuild relationships; and supporting victims. In severe cases, disciplinary action may include temporary removal from the community or termination of employment.
Retaliation is any form of intimidation, reprisal or harassment directed against anyone who reports discriminatory harassment, provides information during an investigation of such behavior, or witnesses or has reliable information about such behavior. Retaliation will not be tolerated and will be subject to the same strict discipline as discriminatory harassment. Each retaliatory offense will be investigated and sanctioned separately.
While the School cannot promise strict confidentiality because information must be shared in order to conduct an effective investigation and transparently address community concerns, the School recognizes the need to respect state and federal laws regarding the confidentiality of student and employment records.