- Dana Ugwonali T, P '23, ’25, ’27 Committee Chair
- Joel Murphy '76 T, P '06, '08, '13 Board of Trustees Chair
- Liz Blake T, GP Board of Trustees Vice Chair
- Roz Brewer T, P '13, '21
- Frank Brown '04
- Javan Bunch '81
- Rayford Davis '93, P '28, '31
- Rand Hagen '95, FT, P '26, '31
- Jack Halpern '67 T
- Dominique Holloman '97
- Angela Hsu, P '27
- Tiffany Moody P '23, '31
- Alison Moran '86 T, P '15, '17
- Maria-Claudia Palacios P '18, '20, '26
- Gevin Reynolds '15
- Jeff Small '85 T, P '15
- Scott Weimer T, P '02, '05
- Keith Evans President
- Marjorie Mitchell '82 P '08, '11, '14 Director of Enrollment Management
- Dominique Holloman ’97 Chair
- Corliss Blount Denman ’73
- Vic Bolton ’76
- Ira Jackson ’83
- Maria Elmore Harleston ’84
- Idara Bassey ’87
- Thomas Morse ’93
- Andre Sulmers ’95
- Bobby Rashad Jones ’97
- Lauren Duncan Griffey ’97
- Wade Rakes ’98
- Jae Scarborough ’99
- Matt Bland ’01
- Ryland McClendon ’03
- Samiyyah Ali ’06
- Michael Russell ’12
- Julian Mason ’18
- Zoë-Grace Hargrove ’19
Upper School: An Anti-Discrimination Pledge
An idea that surfaced during this summer's virtual Community Conversations resonated among Upper School leadership: an agreement similar to the School's longstanding Honor Code that would address behavior that can either help or hinder in building community across boundaries.
Administrators, senior class officers, and the Discipline Council worked together to create and refine an anti-discrimination pledge for all students. In advisement groups, Upper School students were introduced to the pledge in September; the Discipline Council plans to facilitate further conversation about the pledge based on student questions. All Upper School students will be asked to sign the pledge in future advisement sessions this fall. Once this work is complete, we look forward to sharing the pledge and complementary resources on the Wildcats for Equity page.
A pledge is a beginning idea that evolves into a healthy practice that requires intentional education, facilitation, and participation by not just students but everyone in the community. Having a pledge speaks to the ideas of equality, equity, and safety, in addition to an awareness that developing racial and cultural competencies will help young people grow and thrive in ways that extend well beyond just academic success—ways that will shape them into change agents with global impact."
–Judy Osborne, Upper School Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Coordinator
Middle School: Cultivating Community
The Middle School’s Community Council, a student leadership group, is leading the way toward the division earning distinction as a "No Place for Hate" school. No Place for Hate is a longstanding program of the Anti-Defamation League that promotes inclusive communities where bullying and bias have no place. Students will lead peers in a pledge and sponsor anti-bullying and anti-bias programming throughout the year.
In conjunction, the Middle School Equity and Inclusion team has launched "Think About It Thursdays," short video lessons to promote dialogue in each homeroom about race, identity, and inclusion. Topics in October include the importance of learning to correctly pronounce names and the reasons to avoid Halloween costumes that promote cultural stereotypes.
With Middle Schoolers, we know that 60 one-minute conversations are better than one 60-minute conversation. Students need practice in having conversations about race and identity. They need to develop the necessary skills for building and sustaining inclusive culture. Students are a part of leading this work because they are most effective and influential in making our community more inclusive."
–Jennifer Veatch, Middle School Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Coordinator
Lower School: CARE-ing for One Another
With the new CARE curriculum—Conversations Around Race and Equity—diversity, equity, and inclusion are now part of every Love Hall student's regular academic schedule. CARE, introduced in September, is part of the seven-day rotation of classes like art, music, Design Thinking, language, Bible values, and physical education.
The CARE curriculum is based on a combination of the Lower School's existing social-emotional learning program and the Anti-Defamation League's Anti-Bias Building Blocks. The lessons are designed so students learn about their own identities and about how to recognize, avoid, and speak up against prejudice, discrimination, and racism.
As adults, we often assume our children are too young to have conversations around different aspects of identity; however, the research—and our experience in Love Hall—has shown that children are more aware of race, class, religious, and other differences than we realize. If we avoid engaging our students in these conversations, we don't stop them from talking about issues of identity, but teach them to be silent about them around adults, leaving them to make sense of the world without our guidance. Students of all ages can engage in rich and meaningful dialogue about identity. These early conversations help form their ability to recognize unfairness in the world and act justly in response."
–Kevin Soltau, Lower School Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Coordinator
Pictured: First graders worked on self portraits in art classes, taking care to represent their physical appearances before later adding thought bubbles filled with images of things important to them. Students used Crayola's new "Colors of the World" crayons with an increased number of skin-tone options and were encouraged to blend to find just the right shades.
Examining Our Curriculum
Our faculty members continually refine their teaching, and our renewed dedication to equity and inclusion provides an opportunity to research and implement ways to better infuse DEI best practices in classrooms. Through department meetings, professional learning communities, and curriculum committees, each division is working to ensure that students see positive representation of a broad range of cultures and have opportunities to develop cultural competency through their academic studies.
If literature is our lens into humanity in all of its messiness, injustice, beauty, and hope for our own humanity, then it is critical that we provide a lens that allows students to see the diversity that our world includes. All students need to see themselves in the stories we read, and they also need to see those outside of themselves. Stories can help us understand the motivations of ourselves and others; once we have a better understanding of that, we can also be more empathetic to the injustices that others encounter."
–Tyree Churchill Simon '92, Middle School English faculty
Faculty and Staff Form Race Inquiry Groups
Every member of our faculty and staff is exploring questions about race in Race Inquiry Groups this year, led by our longtime partner consultant Ali Michael, co-founder of the Race Institute for K-12 Educators. The groups are designed to create space for faculty and staff to meet in small group settings and engage in courageous conversations, further develop their own racial identity, and support one another in our work to support and empower students in bringing their full selves to campus. An entire day of Faculty Forum leading up to the beginning of the academic year was spent with Ali Michael (virtually) and in these groups.
Faculty and staff members will meet in small discussion groups a total of five times during the 2020-21 school year; these groups are completing their second meetings in the month of October. Between group sessions, each faculty and staff member completes individual work and reflection meant to deepen their understanding of race and racial identity.
Westminster will also welcome Dr. Howard Stevenson to campus in February. A nationally recognized expert on racial literacy and the effects of racial stress and trauma, Dr. Stevenson holds the Constance Clayton Professorship of Urban Education at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School for Education. The Diversity, Equity & Inclusion team is working with Dr. Stevenson to craft meaningful opportunities for faculty and staff to engage in learning and conversation throughout his daylong visit. Watch his TED talk about resolving racially stressful situations here.
Pictured: Our teams of DEI coordinators across the School, including the Lower School team here, are instrumental in helping everyone at Westminster carry forward the work of ensuring students and adults across our community, of any background, are valued and celebrated.
Affinity and Anti-Racist Groups Create Space for Conversation
Westminster's affinity and anti-racist groups for students, parents, and faculty and staff allow small groups of people with a common connection—race, ethnicity, gender or sexuality, family structure—to discuss relevant issues and process their experiences in a safe space. Student groups offer meetings times both during and outside of school hours.
PAWS Engages Parent Body
In addition to parent volunteers who lead affinity groups for other parents and families, PAWS has offered several opportunities this year for parents to celebrate the myriad cultures in our community and learn more about how to act against racism.
Common Ground, a longstanding PAWS committee, hosts events and conversations for parents that explore and celebrate the diversity of cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives that help shape our community. The group has offered two sessions regarding racial and social identity so far this year.
PAWS in the Lower School launched its first two "White Parents Confronting Racism" study groups for white parents to learn more about their own racial identity and how to play a role in anti-racism. Additionally, PAWS in the Lower School hosted outside counselor Dr. Chinwé Williams for a discussion about "How and Why to Talk to Your Kids About Race" at the year's first virtual Coffee & Conversation event.
Ensuring Our School Community Reflects Our City and Nation
Admissions Office Develops Outreach Team
Our admissions team is focused on researching, planning, and implementing outreach activities to increase the number of Black and historically underrepresented students who enroll in all three divisions. While our admissions staff has worked diligently to find best-fit students from a variety of races, backgrounds, and neighborhoods over many years, our student makeup in these specific areas is not reflective of the City of Atlanta itself or the metro area.
The admissions team's preliminary Diversity Outreach Plan is guiding the implementation of new initiatives, including a targeted parent ambassador program that connects prospective families with current Westminster families. This team's research and collaboration with others within and outside of our School community is ongoing as they work through the admissions process—from family inquiries all the way through enrollment.
As Westminster is 'of Atlanta and for Atlanta,' we want our school community to reflect the incredible growing diversity of the metro Atlanta area to ensure that our students experience the richness of that diversity and develop into leaders of conscience in our increasingly interconnected world."
–Claire Strowd, Director of Admissions
Seeking a Diverse Pool of Faculty Candidates
Guided by the aim of better reflecting our student body, the percentage of faculty of color working at Westminster has increased from 12% to 21% in the last decade. Year-round recruitment efforts include reviewing more than 1,500 resumes and conducting more than 300 interviews each year, allowing the School to consider numerous factors and candidates for each open position.
In preparation for the upcoming hiring season, School leaders are further training in avoiding unconscious hiring bias through the NeuroLeadership Institute.
Measuring Our Progress
Community involvement is essential for Westminster to create and continue meaningful opportunities for our students and all our stakeholders—it also holds us accountable to the goals we've set. We value the ideas and stories we heard during our series of Community Conversations in June, as well as those submitted online and through personal connections.
Over the course of the summer and opening months of school, we met with hundreds of parents, alumni, and students to hear the concerns and desires of our school community. We heard five main themes: the pain of students and former students who didn’t feel honored, fully accepted, and included during their time here; the understanding that to acknowledge and lean into this pain will help us grow stronger together; the belief that our future needs leaders who embrace each other and our differences for the good of all; the high expectations of Westminster as a community and national leader; and in true Wildcat spirit, numerous offers of support and a wealth of ideas to navigate this important journey."
–Marjorie Mitchell '82, P '08, '11, '14, Director of Enrollment Management