Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Update

Bethany Dickerson Wynder
Fall Term Brings New Focus to DEI Initiatives
Greetings! 
 
I am humbled and honored to serve as the director of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives at St. Paul’s School. Plato once said that “the beginning is the most important part of the work.” This statement accurately reflects my feelings as relates to education and the start of my journey at the School. For much of the spring and summer, my husband, Rev. Chuck Wynder, Jr., and our five-year-old son, Chase, anticipated moving to Concord, N.H., from Washington, D.C., to accompany and support Chuck in his new role as chaplain at St. Paul’s School. My heart jumped with joy when I, too, agreed to serve this community in my current capacity.
 
With excitement, I serve in this new role because of my belief in the mission, vision, values, and leadership of the School and the opportunity to engage in noble work as a team to further advance the DEI work. Specifically, I have been shepherding and supporting the collaborators engaged in this work, especially members of the newly emerged Faculty DEI Council, Student DEI Council, 11 affinity and alliance groups, the emerging Interfaith Council, and members of the Advancement Office team to co-create an outreach plan to enhance the School relationship with Black and Brown alumni/alumnae. I have spent the beginning parts of the school year listening, learning, and relationship-building with students, faculty, administrators, parents, and alumni/alumnae, and plan to continue much of this good work in the weeks and months ahead.
 
As we co-labor to expand cross-cultural understanding, cultivate skills, and deepen compassion, the DEI Office thought you might appreciate these current, recent, and ongoing highlights of SPS DEI work.
 
This past summer, our faculty readings included How to be an Antiracist (Kendi), White Fragility (Diangelo), Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? (Tatum).
Ohrstrom Library maintains an Antiracism teaching tool kit and a reading list for SPS community members. 
 
We launched the new Windows and Mirrors Film Series for all SPS community members to enhance the Beloved Community on the grounds. A mirror is a story that reflects one’s own culture and helps one build one’s identity. A window is a resource that offers one a view into someone else’s experience. Movies include Black Panther (September) and A Most Beautiful Thing (October). SPS selected these movies primarily to showcase examples of Black excellence in film directing and acting and in U.S. rowing. In the near future, the goal is to empower SPS students to identify and select relevant films for screening, pre-/post-work.
 
Student questions were at the heart of two recent powerful community conversations with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, author/speaker (September 30), and Arshay Cooper, author/speaker (October 16). You can view a debrief on the Arshay Cooper program here.
 
We currently support 11 student affinity groups, which have been quite active this Fall Term. Students meet together regularly, and with their advisers, share their experiences and develop opportunities and activities that inform the larger SPS community of the issues and challenges they face. 
 
Professional development in diversity, equity, and inclusion is intensive and ongoing. SPS sponsors and participates in such nationally recognized organizations as Diversity Directions, Teaching While White, Antiracism Teach-In, Gorski Workshop: On Becoming Antiracist, African American History (Yale), African American Art Workshop, etc. Most recently, faculty training and teach-ins (informal lecture series on subjects of faculty interest) have included work led by Dr. Keith Hinderlie on the topic of “Understanding Microaggressions in the age of Black@” and teach-in trainings on antiracism (October 14). The series continues with “Moving Forward” on November 14.
 
Our new DEI web page forms the foundation for enhanced/enhancing DEI communications, and is the beginning of what we envision to be a useful and informative resource for all who visit.
 
As we live into this year’s School theme of “resilience” chosen by our Sixth Formers, let us continue to work together with courage.
 
Bethany Dickerson Wynder
Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives

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