In this school year's first monthly JEDI blog, St. George's Spanish Teacher Señor Jake Guth reflects on his journey as a World Languages teacher, the intertwined study of languages and culture and the opportunity he has to foster inclusivity and help students create a sense of belonging for others. His post today teaches us more about Hispanic Heritage Month— especially its title— and the meaning of more and more commonly seen term Latinx.
Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion at StG
What is the Purpose of the St. George's JEDI Coalition?
To establish a school-level coalition of teachers, administrators, board members and parents who will advance the school’s work to create and sustain a community committed to racial equity and all forms of diversity. JEDI coalition members will:
Share ideas, feedback and concerns regarding diversity, equity and inclusion.
Advance policies, procedures, people and practices that confront and reshape mindsets to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive community and school system.
Increase communication between faculty, parents, students and the StG community at large in regard to JEDI activities.
Provide opportunities for all constituencies within the StG community to be active participants in advancing the school’s JEDI mission.
2020-2021 JEDI Coalition
The StG JEDI Coalition members represent the constituencies that make up the school’s community and will communicate with and work collaboratively with the groups they represent around JEDI issues.
Statement of Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion:
This statement conveys internally and externally what the JEDI Council believes about Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and the purpose of our work.
St. George’s has always been a school that derives great strength from the neurodiversity of our students; we affirm the need to deepen our commitment to racial equity and all forms of diversity.
We believe our students, our faculty and staff, our trustees and our families thrive in an environment where the dignity and worth of every human being are lifted, where all feel a sense of belonging and where the principles of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion are prioritized. We recognize and celebrate our differences of race, ethnicity, religious belief and practice, gender, sexual orientation, family structure, physical ability and learning style. We acknowledge the existence of privilege and systems of oppression and actively strive to combat these issues within our school community. We are working together, intentionally, to identify and remove barriers that prevent access, opportunity and advancement for all people.
The St. George's Statement of Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion is informed by the National Association of Episcopal School’s definition of Episcopal Identity and Principles of Good Practice for Equity and Justice in Episcopal Schools, the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Principles of Equity and Justice and the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest (ISAS) Commitment to Equity and Justice.
A More Diverse, Inclusive Community:
Admissions - Developing a diverse student body is a top priority at St. George's Episcopal School. The Admissions Committee is comprised of the Director and Assistant Director of Admission, Division Directors (Early Childhood, Lower School, Middle School and Resource Services) and Director of Counseling and Wellness. The decision-making process is determined by academic and social and emotional development of each student, as well as the dynamics and composition of the incoming class and school.
Our Admissions Non-Discrimination Statement reads: St. George's admits students to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally made available at the school and does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, creed, color, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, veteran status, disability in violation of state or federal law or regulation in administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, athletics, and other school-administered programs. Limited financial aid, based on need, is available. We are committed to an inclusive school culture.
The 2020-2021 percentage of our student body identifying as diverse is 21%.
Faculty and Staff - St. George's 2020-2021 percentage of administration, faculty and staff identifying as diverse is 29%.
Partnerships and Professional Development- Professional development is integral to our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts and we are proud of the opportunities we provide our faculty and staff. At the start of every school year, new faculty and staff participate in a justice, equity, diversity and inclusion workshop as part of their New Faculty/Staff Workshop. Professional development funds are available to send faculty and staff to national conferences and opportunities focused on diversity, equity and inclusion.
The People of Color Conference (PoCC) "is the flagship of the National Association of Independent Schools' commitment to equity and justice in teaching, learning, and organizational development. The mission of the conference is to provide a safe space for leadership, professional development, and networking for people of color and allies of all backgrounds in independent schools. PoCC equips educators at every level, from teachers to trustees, with knowledge, skills, and experiences to improve and enhance the interracial, interethnic, and intercultural climate in their schools, as well as the attending academic, social-emotional, and workplace performance outcomes for students and adults alike."
The resources below are not a comprehensive list; they are suggestions to kick start your research and reading. We are always open to suggestions, too! Send us your favorite books, articles and/or websites at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Books and Articles - Click here for a list of fiction and nonfiction books (organized by Early Childhood, Lower School and Middle School divisions), as well as articles for parents, compiled by our StG Librarian and Director of Counseling and Wellness.
Glossary - we suggest The University of Washington's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Glossary as a resource for our community.
"Get to Know" is a new StG blog feature, allowing families to be introduced to key members of our school community. Today's post features Board of Trustees Chair Anne "Annie" Balart Michaels.
St. George's Parents Group President and Board of Trustees member Laura Wilt reflects on her childhood, during which she was frequently the "only minority in virtually every room" and speaks to the StG community's power to inspire lifelong learning for both students AND parents.
Starting Small is a volunteer professional learning community made up of Early Childhood staff at St. George’s Episcopal School. We focus on learning about and actively employing anti-racism and anti-bias practices in the StG Early Childhood Division.
St. George's Board of Trustees Vice-Chair and Lower School parent Annie Michaels describes her family's recent trip to Montgomery and Selma, Alabama-- a significant step in their JEDI journey and one that allows her to see JEDI work through her sons' eyes.
Jake Guth, Middle School Spanish Teacher, discusses his experience attending the NAIS People of Color Conference, providing his five key takeaways: Dr. Bettina Love; the complexity and evolving identity of ourselves; calling in > calling out; affinity groups; and moving beyond allyship.
"JEDI work is hard; it’s uncomfortable, and it’s relentless, but it is rewarding. It challenges how we think and how we feel. I am impressed and in awe of the number of faculty, staff, parents and board members that are not satisfied with the status quo and want to see more justice, equity, diversity and inclusion at St. George’s and in our community at large. It won’t happen tomorrow, next week or even next month, but we will be a place where each child is appreciated not only for their learning style, but also for every diverse characteristic they bring to St. George’s."
Yesterday brought events that affected us as New Orleanians and Americans. It is accurate to say that we have a dual pandemic, and the national health and safety challenges to our well-being are equaled by the challenges to not only our core principles of civil discourse and decency but also democracy. What happened at the Capitol as well as the levels of community spread are both alarming, and both hit home.
"2020 taught us that we are stronger together. Challenges may overwhelm us as individuals, but, as a community, we can be positively transported. Let’s continue together to put wheels on our prayers with renewed purpose in the new year."
"The world of education is a deeply impactful societal structure, and we are ready and prepared to ensure that we start here at our school, at St. George’s, with being a part of the solution and not the problem."
Dr. Kreutziger penned a letter to the StG community on June 3, 2020, in response to the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, as well as the prevalent and ongoing themes of racial injustice and prejudice and need for equity and justice.