To our community:
Lakeside School is guided by its mission and values. Lakeside is also deeply shaped by our community. People working together make Lakeside what it is. Those of us who teach at, work at, and attend Lakeside embrace how our mission is carried out in classrooms, on stages and fields, and around the region and the world.
A core part of Lakeside’s mission is “sustaining a school in which individuals representing diverse cultures and experiences instruct one another in the meaning and value of community.”Our commitment is grounded in an understanding that diversity is a key component of academic excellence: Having people from many backgrounds and experiences enriches the classroom and helps all of us develop wisdom, compassion, and leadership.
Ongoing work in diversity, equity, and inclusion
What does it mean to live our mission? What does it mean to be a member of the Lakeside community? These questions led Lakeside to substantially increase scholarships in the 1960s to enable us to become more socioeconomically diverse. They led to early steps toward racial diversity with the creation of the Lakeside Educational Enrichment Program (LEEP) in 1965, while the merger with St. Nicholas School in 1971 led to coeducation. They led to initiatives such as the Mission Focus (2003), Mission Focus Forward (2008), and Diversity and Inclusion Initiative (2011), which further diversified the student body and faculty, enhanced such programs as student support and affinity groups, re-envisioned professional development for faculty and staff, and drove a campaign that raised $55 million for financial aid. In each decade, our efforts responded to what was happening in the world and in the field of education. The combined effect of this work helped Lakeside become a thriving, diverse, and academically excellent institution.
Listening and reflecting through the AIM survey
In winter 2017, 1,500 members of our community – students, faculty, staff, administrators, trustees, parents and guardians, and alumni from the Classes of 2012-2016 – participated in the Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism (AIM) survey, administered by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). The survey data – both quantitative and qualitative – reinforced what we knew from candid conversations, previous surveys, and our own experiences:
We have come far, but we have work to do.An important point that came up repeatedly is that a person’s identity affects their experience at Lakeside.
An initiative that responds to the evolving needs of our community
As an educational institution, we have a responsibility to our students and to our community. We have a responsibility to provide all our students with an equitable experience in which they have equal access and opportunity to learn and achieve to their fullest potential. We also have a responsibility to be an inclusive and multicultural community, where there is an understanding of and respect for cultural differences, and they are celebrated as a source of community strength.
The work of inclusiveness – of creating an environment where everyone feels that they belong – is part of a larger conversation about inclusion and equity that’s happening around our country. It requires us to embrace our values, recognize areas where we can improve – as individuals and as an institution – and do our best to understand and work with those who are different from us.
Our Work Together: Inclusion, Multiculturalism, Respect
Our Work Together is a strategic initiative that builds on our long-standing commitment to our community. It moves us closer to being an inclusive learning community, one where everyone can bring their true selves rather than conforming to one way of thinking, acting, looking, and being. It’s about becoming a truly multicultural community that sees each person as unique and values the different knowledge and experience everyone brings to the table. It’s about continuing to foster a community where respect, integrity, and ethical behavior guide our actions.
This is about providing an excellent education for all of our students. About honoring all of our employees. About working with all of our families to raise creative, healthy, and ethical young people. This is work we do together.
Please join us in this next phase of our work. Together, we can continue to serve our mission, our community, and our world, now and in the future.
On behalf of all of us at Lakeside School,
Head of School
Director of Equity and Inclusion/Director of Student and Family Support
- Goal 1: Increase the racial/ethnic diversity of the faculty, administrators, and trustees through focused recruitment, hiring, and retention strategies.
- Goal 2: Ensure faculty actively seek to understand their own implicit biases, use diverse pedagogies, and incorporate diverse perspectives into their curricula.
- Goal 3: Empower students, employees, and families to bring their full selves to Lakeside School and actively build relationships with people who are different from themselves.
- Goal 4: Continue to nurture a school culture that acknowledges and honors difference, leading to an increasingly inclusive school where every individual is listened to, respected, and valued.
A diverse adult community brings a variety of perspectives to the table and provides students with role models who represent a broad range of backgrounds and experiences. The Diversity and Inclusion Initiative moved us forward in this area, by instituting consistent hiring practices across the institution; recruiting a more diverse pool of candidates for teaching positions; and training school leadership, including department heads, on inclusive hiring practices. This new initiative will expand those efforts, developing strategies that address administrator and trustee positions, new approaches to recruitment, and leadership development among faculty of color.
This work focuses on pedagogy (how faculty teach) and curriculum (what they teach). It emerges from an understanding that we all have implicit biases: unconscious attitudes or stereotypes that affect how we understand and act. Working with experts in cross-cultural competency and inclusive teaching, each faculty member will be supported and evaluated in their growth and learning. Our goal is to build a truly multicultural curriculum across all departments, and equitable classrooms in which all students have equal access and opportunities to learn and achieve to their fullest potential.
Lakeside has become a more diverse community, but we are not yet truly inclusive – a place where individuals from many cultures and backgrounds feel affirmed, respected, and empowered as opposed to feeling they must conform to one way of thinking, acting, looking, and being. Over the last five years, the Diversity and Inclusion Initiative’s work in inclusive student, adult, and family culture led to expanded student diversity programming, including starting student affinity groups at the Middle School; created opportunities for parents and guardians to engage with each other and with the school, including through affinity groups for parents and guardians of students of historically underrepresented backgrounds; and more opportunities for cross-divisional student collaboration and mentorship. Now, we will review and potentially adapt those programs, as well as look at our curriculum, co-curricular programs, physical spaces, professional development, and school traditions – with the goal of making the school more inclusive of people of all genders, sexual orientations, races and ethnicities, socioeconomic classes, political viewpoints, and religions.
We want to be a community where honest conversations about challenging topics can take place, and where students can develop an understanding of themselves and others. Starting from a firm foundation of respect and dialogue, our strategies in this area include actively learning about the experiences of various cultural groups (at Lakeside and in the region), cultivating self-knowledge and empathy, building relationships and trust, and adapting institutional programs and practices to support a more inclusive, multicultural, and celebratory environment.
We all have a part to play. Here are some places to start.
Connect with others in the Lakeside community that you don’t already know.
Contact Jamie Asaka, director of equity and inclusion/director of student and family support, to share your thoughts and ideas. You can reach her at email@example.com and 206-440-2901.
Get involved with the Parents and Guardians Association (PGA). They are the school’s partners in this work! Contact PGA President Juiling Edmonds P ’19 P ’22 or Vice President for Community, Equity, and Inclusion David de la Fuente P ’23. You can reach them at LakesidePGA@lakesideschool.org and 206-440-2740.
Attend a meeting of the PGA T.J. Vassar Diversity and Community committee. This group supports the school community in its efforts to understand, embrace, and promote diversity and inclusion. The committee works to establish and maintain a safe environment for open discussion of issues. It hosts several events each year, including speakers. For more information, contact Sheila Talwar P ’24 or Winston Yeung P ’23 P ’25. You can reach them at LakesidePGA@lakesideschool.org and 206-440-2740.
Learn about Lakeside’s parent and guardian affinity groups. An affinity group is a gathering of people who share an identity. Affinity groups provide opportunities for participants to reflect on that shared identity and their experience within the context of a community or an organization. The PGA currently has the following affinity groups: for parents and guardians of African/African-American students; for parents and guardians of LGBTQ students; for parents and guardians of Latino/Hispanic students; and for parents and guardians of Pan-Asian students. For more information, contact Bridgette Taylor P ’24, P ’21. You can reach her at LakesidePGA@lakesideschool.org and 206-440-2740.
AIM: The Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism (AIM) survey is administered by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). The survey provides schools with a deep understanding of the climate of inclusion on their campuses.
Cultural Competency: The application of a defined set of values, principles, skills, attitudes, policies, and behaviors that enable individuals and groups to work effectively across cultures. Cultural competence is a developmental process (and continuum) that evolves over time for both individuals and organizations. It is defined as having the capacity to (1) value diversity (2) conduct assessment of self (3) manage the dynamics of difference (4) acquire and apply cultural knowledge and (5) adapt to diversity and the cultural contexts of the communities in which one lives and works.
Diversity: The concept of diversity embraces the wide range of human characteristics used to mark or identify individual and group identities. These characteristics include, but are not limited to, ethnicity, race, national origin, age, personality, sexual orientation, gender, class, religion, ability, and linguistic preferences. Diversity is a term used as shorthand for visible and quantifiable statuses, but diversity of thought and ways of knowing, being, and doing are also understood as natural, valued, and desired states, the presence of which benefit organizations, workplaces, and society.
Equity: A condition that balances two dimensions: fairness and inclusion. As a function of fairness, equity implies ensuring that people have what they need to participate in school life and reach their full potential. Equitable treatment involves eliminating barriers that prevent the full participation of all individuals. As a function of inclusion, equity ensures that essential educational programs, services, activities, and technologies are accessible to all. Equity is not equality; it is the expression of justice, ethics, multipartiality, and the absence of discrimination.
Ethnicity: A social construct that divides people into groups based on characteristics such as shared sense of group identity, values, culture, language, history, ancestry and geography.
Implicit bias: The attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases, which encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control.
Gender: Socially constructed categories of masculinity and manhood, femininity and womanhood.
Gender identity: A person’s internal sense of themselves as a specific gender.
Inclusivity/Inclusiveness: Encompassing all; taking every individual’s experience and identity into account and creating conditions where all feel accepted, safe, empowered, supported, and affirmed. An inclusive school or organization expands its sense of community to include all, cultivating belonging and giving all an equal voice. Inclusivity also promotes and enacts the sharing of power and recognition of interdependence, where authorizing individuals and community members share responsibility for expressing core values and maintaining respect for differences in the spirit of care and cooperation.
Microaggressions: Microaggressions are subtle words, cues, and/or behaviors that insult, invalidate, or exclude traditionally marginalized group members. The long-term effect of microaggressions can be a significant negative effect on one’s health.
Multiculturalism: The presence of many distinctive cultures and the manifestation of cultural components and derivatives (e.g. language, values, religion, race, communication styles, etc.) in a given setting. Multiculturalism promotes the understanding of, and respect for cultural differences, and celebrates them as source of community strength. Multiculturalism is also defined as set of programs, policies, and practices that enable and maximize the benefits of diversity in a school community or organization.
Privilege: Systemic favoring, enriching, valuing, validating, and including of certain social identities over others. Individuals cannot “opt out” of systems of privilege; rather these systems are inherent to the society in which we live.
Race: A social construct that divides people into groups based on factors such as physical appearance, ancestry, culture, history, etc.; a social, historical and political classification system.
Racism: A system of oppression involving systematic subordination of members of targeted racial groups by those who have relatively more social power. This subordination occurs at the individual, cultural and institutional levels.
Sexual orientation: A concept referring to sexual desire and preference for emotional and sexual relationships with others based on their sex/gender; often implies that sexual object choice is an essential, in-born characteristic, so may be problematic to some.
Social class (as in upper class, middle class, lower class, working class): Refers to people’s socio-economic status, based on factors such as wealth, occupation, education, income, etc.
White privilege: Institutional set of benefits, including greater access to resources and power, bestowed upon people classified as white.
Sources for these definitions include the National Association of Independent Schools, The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University, and The Privilege Institute.