by Bernie Noe, head of school
Hey, everyone, I hope you all had a great winter break and are now rested and ready for the second half of the school year! It is amazing to me how fast the first half flew by!
We are in the second year of implementing our diversity, equity, and inclusion strategic plan, Our Work Together, and I want to bring you up to speed on what we are doing. We consider this our diversity 2.0 work. We have, over the past 15 years, done a lot of trainings and workshops that have helped us better understand one another, and we are currently a very diverse school, statistically. But the work of being a truly inclusive school – where every student feels equally that this is their school – is ongoing. We cannot nurture an equity and inclusion mindset for our students unless we model that mindset as a school.
This work is currently taking many forms. To make sure all of our students see themselves in the curriculum and traditions of the school, we have inventoried the course content currently in use at Lakeside, noting both our strengths and areas for growth. Based on the results of this inventory, we will update course content to reflect a more multicultural view of the world. We are also training department heads on best practices in inclusive teaching, and they will share those with faculty. And, beginning next year, along with other markers of great teaching, we will include in teacher evaluations measures of growth in cultural understanding, inclusive teaching methodology, and development of a multicultural curriculum.
We are also working hard to make sure we are including a variety of perspectives in the curriculum. This past June, eight teachers and administrators participated in a five-day train-the-trainer workshop on having intergroup dialogues on controversial topics. Those trainers are now conducting two-day workshops for their colleagues, beginning with faculty in the Middle and Upper school history and English departments. We are an overwhelmingly liberal school and need to make certain we are genuinely open to all viewpoints. It is not good education for our students to only hear, by and large, one perspective.
And we are making the school more open to the religious perspectives of our students. Last year, in response to comments from students, the Board of Trustees changed the school’s position on religious activity at school to allow faith-based clubs on campus. This year, we launched the Upper School’s interfaith and spirituality affinity group, which has been well-attended by students. We cannot be a truly inclusive school if students cannot bring their whole selves to school every day, and their religious identity is, of course, part of their whole self. We do expect this new policy will be complicated from time to time because we will not allow views to be espoused at school which are inimical to our mission, and we will work with those complications when they arise. That is life in a democratic society!
So, much is happening on the diversity front, all of it consistent with our mission as a school and significantly overlapping our re-envisioning process. We are doing our best to live an equity and inclusion mindset.
Enjoy the Seattle winter, everyone, and remember the days are getting longer! I will see you at games, performances, and around the school.
Bernie Noe is Lakeside’s head of school. You can reach him at Head’sOffice@lakesideschool.org and 206-440-2714.