News from the Head of School

August 28 DEI Communication
Posted 08/28/2020 03:55PM

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.

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.
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  • FAST
  • CSEE
  • Independent Curriculum Group
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