An Independent School • Grades 5-12
Rolling out a new initiative focused on inclusion and multiculturalism
Rolling out a new initiative focused on inclusion and multiculturalism

by Bernie Noe, head of school

For many years now, we have worked hard to be a successfully diverse and inclusive community at Lakeside. We believe that no school in our global society can be academically excellent without having a diversity of opinions represented in every discussion. We know that an excellent education in 2017 and the future is one that prepares our students to thrive in a diverse world, recognizing and respecting the unique gifts that each person brings to each endeavor.

Lakeside has become much more statistically diverse in the past 10 years. This year's students are from 234 schools all across the Seattle metropolitan area and from many backgrounds and walks of life. We have also worked hard to be a more culturally aware community, one in which we all better understand and work effectively with one another.

We are indeed a more diverse community, but in the day-to-day life at school we are not yet inclusive of all these cultures and backgrounds. We have more to do, for example, to make sure our students see themselves and their heritage and experiences included in the curriculum in their classes and in school traditions. We have more to do to make certain that we are using inclusive teaching methods that reach all students — for example, asking teachers to reflect on how they call on students and recognize that students can show classroom engagement in a variety of ways.  

This past February our entire community took the NAIS Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism (AIM) survey (1,474 people participated) and the results showed us where we have work to do to in building an inclusive culture. Since receiving the survey results, the All-School Diversity Committee and the leadership team of the school, in consultation with key groups — Middle School Student Council; Upper School Student Government; the Student Affinity/Alliance Leadership Team at the Upper School; members of the Parents and Guardians Association; and the Board of Trustees — have formulated a plan that we will enact over the next three to five years. We will present the general contours of the plan in the February issue of Inside Lakeside and in a mailing to parents and guardians. If you'd like to hear about the plan in person, plan to attend the PGA general membership meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 6, where Interim Director of Equity and Inclusion Jamie Asaka '96 and I will introduce it.

Our next phase of diversity, equity, and inclusion work is both inspiring and challenging. We want everyone in our community to be able to have open and honest conversations with one another about challenging topics, be "real" with one another, learn about our similarities and differences, and, as a result, develop a deeper level of understanding and respect for each other. This level of dialogue is seldom found in diverse groups in our society, so we know we are setting a high bar for ourselves. To do this work will require a high level of mutual trust on the part of our students, faculty, and staff. It will also require grace: the understanding that none of us is perfect and we will not always say exactly the right thing at the right time, and that both of those truths are OK. We all have our baggage and are in different places in our understanding of the world and each other, and that is where we will begin our discussions.

I am very optimistic about the work we are setting out to do. Among Lakeside's students and adults, the level of respect for one another is high, and that level of respect provides us with a firm foundation on which to build an even more inclusive school environment for everyone.

I look forward to engaging in this work with all of you in the parent and guardian community!

And, I will see you at games and performances, as well as at the PGA general membership meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 6.

Bernie

Bernie Noe is Lakeside's head of school. You can reach him at 206-440-2714.

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