Action Items and Implementation Progress (specific impact of 2020 events noted in bold):
1. Review the scope and sequence of the curriculum of our 3-year-old through 12th grade program and set benchmarks and goals that clearly articulate what it means for each child to meet his or her full potential. This exploration of our curriculum will include:
- A review of how we incorporate diversity, in all of its forms, into our program. COMPLETED AND ONGOING
- A determination of how we identify students who will thrive at Doane. COMPLETED AND ONGOING
- The identification and development of life skills, leadership, and character. COMPLETED AND ONGOING
- An emphasis on the academic rigor necessary for success in college and beyond. COMPLETED AND ONGOING
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives:
While our DEI work is ongoing, much of the progress we made early in 2020 had a positive impact on our ability to respond to the tragic events of this past summer. In February, we invited a group of upper school students to speak with our faculty about their experience as students of color at Doane. While much of their feedback was positive, they also shared multiple examples of being the subject of microaggressions. In addition, they encouraged the faculty to continue to refine the curriculum to help it speak to the lives of students.
Many of our peer schools received feedback from students and graduates of color on their experiences through social accounts that were created this summer. While we were pleased to hear feedback from students in a more personalized, “live” environment, we recognize the importance of hearing from our students and graduates in any format. Moreover, it is essential not only to listen to our students discuss their experiences, but also to take steps to improve such experiences. The initiatives that we have taken, often with the leadership of the DEI Task Force, have been attempts to respond to the needs articulated by our students in their experiences.
In January and February, we partnered with the Sustained Dialogue organization to train our seniors to lead challenging and meaningful conversations on issues of race, equity, and social justice as part of their Lead Onward seminars. The first round of such conversations took place in late February and revolved around the role of monuments and memorials in our nation's history and national identity. To provide grounding for these discussions, we were pleased to welcome Paul Farber, one of the founders of the Monument Lab in Philadelphia, to speak with our middle and upper school students about how the monuments we have represent or fail to represent our collective memory. Through critical conversations, inclusive activism, and creative art projects, Monument Lab challenges people to reimagine public spaces through stories of social justice and equity.
The impact of this program was just beginning to be experienced when we were forced to move our program online in March. We thus were unable to complete last year the work we began in the winter but we continued the conversation this fall by including the topic in our Lead Onward curriculum for junior class. Paul Farber returned to speak with our students and we are beginning to explore how we can expand our relationship with the Monument Lab to collaborate on curriculum development.
We continued the conversation about race, equity, and social justice throughout the late spring and summer in our new Thursday@3 program, which was led by members of the DEI Task Force. These weekly meetings brought together members of the faculty and staff, students, and young alumni to discuss a variety of topics ranging from Covid-19 and inequality to indigenous peoples.
In addition to this seminar, we have continued our work this fall through weekly sessions on issues of diversity, the creation of affinity groups to support our Black and Brown students, the implementation of a teaching and learning program about Columbus, and ongoing professional development for our faculty. The DEI Task Force has been an important catalyst for these initiatives.
We have also spent a great deal of time assessing the impact of remote learning on our students ability to master content and skills. This self-examination is ongoing but, like many schools, we found that we were not able to cover as much material in the spring of 2020 as we would typically cover in that period of time. We have taken this conclusion into consideration this year in the design of our academic schedule and in the training we have undertaken to support our remote learners, who constitute about 15% of our student body.
2. Create and implement a Health and Wellness Program to provide all of our students with the tools needed to be their best selves in the ever-changing world. This program’s curriculum (modified so as to be appropriate for different student ages) will address core topics in the areas of mental, social, emotional, and physical health. COMPLETED AND ONGOING
Our Health and Wellness program was a key component of our DoaneRemote program in the spring of 2020 as we worked to support the emotional health of our students, faculty, and staff during the difficult months when our students were learning remotely. In support of this important priority, our school psychologist, Dr. Enid Flagg, provided a wide range of materials and services to both our faculty and students.
In May, 2020, we conducted an in-depth “resiliency survey” of both our faculty and students in partnership with Authentic Connections. The results of these surveys suggested that the emotional health of both our students and faculty had been impacted by the pandemic, but that our community was coping with the situation better than groups at peer schools. We are likely to conduct a follow-up survey with both groups later this academic year.
This year we have continued to support our students emotional needs, especially those that are connected to the pandemic. Dr. Flagg communicates weekly wellness messages to the entire community with tips for how to take care of yourself during these stressful times. The Lower School, Middle School and Upper School division heads work with Dr. Flagg and Dan Williamson, Dean of Student Life, to monitor students of concern and maintain regular communication with home. Where appropriate, Dr. Flagg and Lower School Director of Reading Literacy, Jennifer McDonough, create individualized learning plans that help students navigate challenges specific to them at this time.
3. Create a learning environment for faculty in which we support, expect, and recognize ongoing professional development. We will empower and invest in our faculty by providing them with the resources they need to help each child meet their unique potential. Through these efforts, we will prioritize attracting and retaining talented, passionate, innovative educators. COMPLETED AND ONGOING
During the summer of 2020, we invested more resources than ever in the professional development of our faculty. Together, our faculty completed over 1,500 hours of their time to their growth as teachers, focusing primarily on the challenges associated with hybrid learning. Nine of our teachers took part in a “boot camp” throughout July with Global Online Academy, a leader in providing remote learning to students around the world. These teachers, in turn, led sessions with our faculty in August. The purpose of this training was to provide teachers with more tools that they can use with remote learners -- either in a hybrid learning environment or in a situation where all students are learning remotely. Using these teaching and learning tools, while always keeping the school’s mission central to our classroom work, has been an essential component of the success of our program this year and an ongoing focus of faculty professional development through sharing ideas and practices that have been especially impactful for our students.