Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiative

Please follow our discussion on the school’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiative.

August 28 Communication

Dear Community Member,

As we begin the school year, the intensity that Prep’s faculty and staff have brought to summer conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion is palpable. Amid many issues, we are grappling with an important question posed by DEI educator Elizabeth Denevi at an opening meeting for faculty and staff: How do you want to make sure your students feel comfortable in your classroom this year? We are on a journey to make Prep a place where everyone feels they can bring their whole selves to campus.

To this end, in July, we asked for nominations for the working committee for our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative. In response, we received nearly 100 rich and thoughtful applications containing a multitude of ideas and suggestions for this important work. In addition, we received in early August the final draft of the Call to Action petition, started by a passionate group of alumni earlier this summer and ultimately signed by nearly 700 members of the Prep community. Many have noted that Prep is fortunate that our alumni, students, parents, parents of alumni, staff, and faculty are willing to identify, with generosity and kindness, ways in which Prep can do better. We could not agree more and are deeply grateful for such input. 

Across the wider national landscape, we also lament the pain, anger, and grief caused by ongoing anti-Black violence in the wake of the recent shooting by police of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. In order to help Prep reckon with the nation’s legacy of racism and the ways it has manifested within our own community, we have committed for the 2020-2021 school year to working with Christina Hale-Elliott, a consultant on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Christina is the founder of Elliott Educational Services and for the past year has served as the first DEI consultant for La Cañada Unified School District. (For more about Christina, click here.)

As she launches her work with Prep, Christina will begin with a strengths and needs assessment, engaging a variety of constituencies to gather information regarding the school’s current landscape, including the policies, practices, and beliefs that support or hinder the progress of schoolwide equity. These conversations will include specific outreach to those who have already been in touch with Prep through the nominations and comments described above. We thank you for your patience as we engage in this initial process of interviews, focus groups, surveys, data analysis, observations, and document review. In addition, Christina plans to facilitate discussions with the Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, and parents to share findings and ground future conversations with students. We are thrilled to welcome Christina as Prep’s partner in this crucial work. We will update you regularly on our progress.

 

Sincerely,

Jim Pickett
Head of School

Carol Ramsey
Chair, Board DEI Initiative Committee

Sarah Cooper
Assistant Head for Academic Life

Vanessa Walker-Oakes
Assistant Head for Student Life

About Christina Hale-Elliott

Christina Hale-Elliott is the founder and principal consultant of Elliott Educational Services. In that capacity, she provides technical assistance and professional development to Pre-K through 12 public school districts, independent schools, teacher education programs, and parent advocacy groups across the country to promote equitable student outcomes through the use of culturally responsive and sustaining education. Most recently, she served as the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Consultant for La Cañada Unified School District.

Christina has been in the field of social justice education for over 20 years, having served as an English teacher, literacy coach, university lecturer, and supervisor of teacher education. A native of Pasadena, she received her bachelor’s degree from UCLA and her master's degree in teaching and curriculum from Harvard University.

Posted by rfeliciano on Friday August 28 at 03:55PM
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July 20 Communication

Dear Community Member,

We would like to thank you for the many encouraging responses we have received so far about Flintridge Prep’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiative, announced on June 18. Your voices inspire our intentional, purposeful, and immediate commitment to this important work: to ensure that Prep stands up against racism and makes our campus a place where everyone feels truly welcome walking through the gates.

As we embark on this initiative, we are grateful that veteran Prep trustee Carol Ramsey will be serving as the chair of the Board DEI initiative committee. Carol's professional career has been spent in the fields of education and philanthropy, with significant experience and special emphasis on organizational management, program development, and board governance. (For more about Carol, please see below.) Assistant Head for Student Life Vanessa Walker-Oakes and Assistant Head for Academic Life Sarah Cooper will be the administrative leads, working closely with Head of School Jim Pickett. Last month both Sarah and Vanessa, accompanied by several Prep faculty members, attended the Glasgow Group’s National Diversity Practitioners Institute, an intensive conference focusing on creating diverse, equitable, and inclusive independent schools. In addition, all Prep faculty and staff will begin the school year with an anti-bias workshop presented by Elizabeth Denevi, director of East Ed, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting diversity and equity in schools, and co-founder of Teaching While White. Such work builds on the professional growth experiences of more than a quarter of Prep’s faculty over the past year in topics related to diversity, equity and inclusion, and is a critical next step on our journey. 

Many thanks to those of you who have already expressed interest in being part of this initiative. If you would like to volunteer to be a member of, or nominate someone else for, our working committee, please fill out the Google Form below by Wednesday, July 29. We anticipate that this committee will meet frequently throughout the 2020-2021 academic year. Community members who are not on the committee will have ample opportunities for input through forums such as focus groups, town hall meetings, surveys, and other conversations.

In August we will send our next update, once we have created the structure of the multi-constituency working committee. We look forward to continuing this crucial dialogue with all of you over the months and years to come.

Volunteer to Participate

Sincerely,

Jim Pickett
Head of School

Carol Ramsey
Chair, Board DEI Initiative Committee

Sarah Cooper
Assistant Head for Academic Life

Vanessa Walker-Oakes
Assistant Head for Student Life

About Carol Ramsey

Carol Ramsey started in private education as a college administrator at Bowdoin and Vassar Colleges, followed by an extensive involvement in private secondary education at A Better Chance, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, and as Head of the Wilmington Friends School in Delaware. She later accepted a position as Program Director of Children, Youth, and Families with the James Irvine Foundation, then expanded her philanthropy experience through a position as Director of Corporate Contributions with the Raytheon Company, headquartered in Waltham, MA. Upon leaving Raytheon for early retirement, Carol consulted with a large public school charter management organization, and ended her active career as Vice President for Programs at the Entertainment Industry Foundation in Los Angeles. Carol has held several trusteeships, totaling more than 40 years of concurrent service at Northfield Mount Hermon School (MA) the Thacher School (CA), the Buckley School (CA) and Flintridge Preparatory School (CA); Connecticut College (CT); the Grand Opera House in Wilmington, DE; the North Carolina Outward Bound School; and the National Conference of Christians and Jews in San Francisco. She has been a review panelist for the National Science Foundation's Math and Science Program and served for 10 years on the Western Regional Selection Panel for the White House Fellows Program.


Posted by rfeliciano on Thursday July 23
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June 18 Communication

Dear Prep Community,

As we witness the continuing traumas wrought by a global pandemic, institutional racism, and police brutality against Black Americans, traumas that demand our responsiveness and commitment to change, we, like you, are called to action.

It is clear that we have not talked enough about racism and its insidious effect on our relationships and progress. And, without education, without encouragement and support, without action, we cannot achieve the essential and commonly held values of fairness, justice, and equality.

Guided and informed by your many letters, comments, petitions, and requests, we are committed to addressing racism with honesty and intentionality. And, while this work will take time and commitment from all of us, the school’s administration and trustees will take these immediate steps:

  • We will create a comprehensive action plan to address diversity, equity, and inclusion that we will share with the entire Prep community. We will engage all constituencies in this process, and hold ourselves accountable, transparently sharing with the community discernible goals, measurable outcomes, successes, and failures. We will issue our first progress update in August.
  • We will create two committees: a Board oversight committee and a committee that includes faculty, staff, students, parents, and alumni to develop this action plan for our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiative.
  • We will commit to a comprehensive review of our curriculum, programs, and practices with the intent of creating an anti-racist environment that promotes a culture of inclusion for all people of color.
  • We will introduce opportunities for anti-bias teaching and learning that encourage the open exchange of truth, facts, and perspectives.
  • We will expand community-wide programs, including campus speakers, faculty professional growth, and cross-constituency education that fosters and strengthens empathy for all students, employees, and our extended community.
  • We will reframe our hiring process to focus on recruiting and retaining a greater diversity of faculty and staff.
  • We will expand our current initiative to prioritize racial diversity in admissions and financial aid.

We will live by our mission and honor code: Through honest, kind, generous, and respectful learning, examination, and practice, we will make our school—and by extension, all those we encounter—part of the solution to end ignominy, injustice, and hate.

We call on all of you to join us as we commit to this important work. We must all—individually and collectively—teach and learn with the compassion and belonging that are the values of our school. We look forward to your collaboration, participation, and cooperation.

Sincerely,

Peter Bachmann 
Headmaster

David Codiga 
Chair, Board of Trustees

Jim Pickett 
Incoming Head of School

Kristina Leslie 
Incoming Chair, Board of Trustees

Posted by rfeliciano on Thursday June 18
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Flintridge Preparatory School
4543 Crown Avenue La Cañada Flintridge CA 91011
Tel: 818-790-1178
Fax: 818-952-6247
Located near Pasadena and Los Angeles in La Cañada, CA, Flintridge Prep is a private independent, coed day school for grades 7-12.
  • NAIS
  • FAST
  • CSEE
  • Independent Curriculum Group
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