Committed to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

  • As I shared in a quick video, my family and I are so humbled and excited to officially be a part of the Stanley community. We were all drawn to Stanley because of its deep love and respect for kids and childhood and also its clearly stated commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Throughout this past year, I enjoyed hearing updates on the programs and curriculum that already exist at Stanley. During my transition these last nine months, I have had the opportunity to engage in several purposeful conversations with community members on topics ranging from socio-economic status to neurodiversity.


    Over the last six weeks, we have all seen the spotlight placed on issues of systemic racism throughout society. Earlier in June, Tim wrote a letter to the community acknowledging these events and asserting the school’s values and commitment to becoming a more equitable and inclusive community. After countless experiences listening to and engaging with faculty, staff, students, alumni, and the board of trustees, I too have felt the incredible energy and desire from this community to show up, learn and make a positive difference. As a result, I thought it worthwhile to circle back on Tim’s letter and share a window into some of the ways we have leaned in as a community around DEI this summer, as well as efforts you’ll be hearing more about in the year ahead. Though the work reflects efforts from individuals throughout our community, I want to particularly recognize the leadership of the Stanley Multicultural Affairs Committee (MAC) which has spearheaded much of this work that you see below: 

    • In June, MAC leaders held spaces at the 3-4-5 and 6-7-8 divisions for both students of color and all students to come together to reflect and process the most recent racial violence, deaths and protests.

    • The SCIE (School Culture for Inclusion and Equity) board committee created spaces for parents of students of color and all interested parents to gather virtually for a parallel conversation to those held with students.

    • Over 60 community members attended the Denver Public Schools march on June 8, in support of Black Lives Matter, and others attended yet more events in support of Black lives.

    • Nearly 30 faculty and staff participated in the first White Anti-Racist Allies Affinity group meeting launched this week. This group will continue to find times to meet throughout the year to unpack topics including allyship, privilege and whiteness in a brave space.

    • This summer, 60 faculty and staff will be participating in a social justice book club and reading “White Fragility,” “How to be an Anti-Racist” or “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You.” These are wonderful reads, and we’re exploring creating spaces to discuss these with parents who might be interested as well.

    • We continued to offer our annual Summer Scholars Camp, albeit virtually, and we look forward to hosting our first Students of Color Affinity Group retreat next week.

    • Twelve Stanley faculty enrolled in workshops this summer alone around anti-racist education, bias, and privilege, and still others have been participating in other DEI-related webinars and programs.

    • In August, during our professional development weeks before students return, all faculty will be engaging in a workshop learning about how to implement Teaching Tolerance’s Anti-Bias Framework across the K-8 curriculum. Teaching Tolerance is a multiple-year initiative that builds on efforts in past years to create windows and mirrors into our curriculum.

    • In the 2020-21 school year, we are looking forward to creating new affinity spaces for connection for parents of students of color and faculty of color to parallel our Students of Color Affinity group (SOCA).

    I do not share these different commitments in action for the purposes of patting ourselves on the back or suggesting that we have arrived at a final destination. We all realize that we have much work ahead to continue to live out our mission, vision and values, and empower our students. Our Board of Trustees also recognizes the importance of DEI and has committed to doing its own learning and engaging in important discussions throughout this year. 

    Ultimately, diversity, equity and inclusion work is as much about shaping the lens through which we see the world as it is about any specific initiative. My hope in sharing these examples is to recognize what can spawn from meaningful dialogue on how we can continue to be an equitable and inclusive community. This week at my NAIS Institute for New Heads, I have been inspired to feel momentum from independent schools across the country who are working towards becoming institutions committed to not just inclusion but justice and anti-racism. It gives me pride that Stanley is on this path as well and is a school whose values underscore the importance of developing students who understand similarities and differences in people and nurturing the ability to make socially responsible decisions. 

    I will be the first to say that I have and will always have lots of learning and work to do around DEI, so I am committed to building my own understanding. In my experience, meaningful growth happens more frequently when we simply show up and pursue 100, 1-minute conversations rather than 1, 100-minute workshop or dialogue.

    We intend to share with you updates throughout the year on the work we are engaging in as a community and to provide you with resources to support your kids and selves at home (some of which are already living on our website at stanleybps.org/ideabank). It really is a privilege to be a part of the Stanley community during this time, and I look forward to continuing along in this journey together.

    Sincerely,
    Sumant