by Jamie Asaka, director of equity and inclusion/director of student and family support
This past January, Bernie Noe and I formally introduced the next phase of Lakeside's ongoing work to promote equity and inclusion. Our Work Together: Inclusion, Multiculturalism, Respect expands on previous efforts to address race and socioeconomic class to also consider the school's inclusiveness toward individuals of diverse genders, sexual orientation, religions, political viewpoints, and cultures. It calls for Lakeside to more closely examine the root causes of inequality, exploring the impact of implicit bias, systemic racism, and monoculturalism.
My colleagues and I on the equity and inclusion team spent the spring and summer preparing for next steps. I'm excited to share some of what will be happening this year! Read all the way to the bottom to learn about opportunities for parents and guardians to engage in this work as well. This work has the greatest impact on students when all the adults in their lives are in partnership, learning and growing together.
- Featuring diverse perspectives in our curriculum is an important part of goal two in Our Work Together. We want all students to be able to see themselves in the books they read, the history they learn, the case studies they examine. We also want students to be exposed to viewpoints and experiences that are different than their own. Our team is working with faculty in each department to inventory our curriculum, paying attention to multiculturalism, global themes and trends, and the representation and inclusion of multiple genders and sexual orientations. This should result in changes to the curriculum as soon as next year.
At the same time, we're working with faculty and staff to help them grow in cultural awareness and understanding. Half of our professional development in August was focused on Our Work Together, particularly around understanding the effects of systemic racism by looking at housing, redlining, and immigration in Seattle. You can learn more about the day here, as well as find all the resources we shared with faculty and staff.
- Goal one of Our Work Together is: "Increase the racial-ethnic diversity of the faculty, administrators, and trustees through focused recruiting, hiring, and retention strategies." All of these groups are role models to students, and our aim is for adults at Lakeside to reflect the diversity of our student body.
Our Board of Trustees is taking a leadership role in this work and bringing a wide range of professional and personal experiences and knowledge to the table. It's the most racially diverse group of trustees we've had at Lakeside. Inclusion and equity will be a topic in all board meetings this year, particularly around privilege and cross-cultural communication. We'll be addressing this work in depth in a new committee focused on equity and inclusion, which will be chaired by Natasha Smith Jones '89, the immediate past chair of the board.
- As the equity and inclusion team focused in on strategies and tasks for this year, we found that our efforts mirrored similar work by our colleagues in global education. This has resulted in a fruitful collaboration, in which we are examining our work through a local and global lens. The foundation of learning and understanding difference – in both global education and equity and inclusion – is personal growth and awareness. Self-reflection is a critical component of working in diverse settings, whether at home or abroad.
This is just a handful of the activities we're taking on this year. In the November Inside Lakeside, my colleague Debbie Bensadon, assistant director of equity and inclusion, will share information about how students are involved in Our Work Together.
On Tuesday, Oct. 16, the PGA T.J. Vassar Diversity and Community Committee is hosting Rosetta Lee to talk to the parent/guardian community about Parenting with Identity in Mind. You can find a description of the event on the PGA webpage. The talk takes place at the Upper School in Allen-Gates Hall, Kent Evans Auditorium. A light dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m. and the lecture goes from 7-8:30 p.m. No RSVP is required.
Secondly, this October marks the third year of parent and guardian affinity groups (gatherings of individuals who share an identity, e.g., race, sexual orientation, gender, socioeconomic class). Sponsored by the Parents and Guardians Association and in partnership with the office of diversity, equity, and inclusion, the parent and guardian affinity groups are designed to support families whose backgrounds historically have been underrepresented in the school.
For detailed information, see the email that Bernie Noe sent to parents and guardians on Sept. 19. If you would like to participate in one or more of these groups, please complete this brief questionnaire to help us plan. Once we know your preferred group, the group facilitator will reach out to you with more information about the date, time, and location for the meetings.
If you have questions about affinity groups or anything above, please do reach out to me! I hope you and your family are having a great fall.
Jamie Asaka is Lakeside's director of equity and inclusion/director of student and family support. You can reach her at email@example.com or 206-440-2901.