hrough research, professional development, and curricular enhancements, WT continues to confront the challenges and obstacles that have prevented it from being an environment of equity, justice, and belonging for every member of the community. A few updates on this work are included here, as well as a warm welcome to WT’s next Director of Equity, Inclusion, and Wellness.
WT is pleased to welcome Jessica Walton in the role of Director of Equity, Inclusion, and Wellness starting in July 2021. Jessica joins WT from Perkiomen School, an independent boarding and day school in eastern Pennsylvania, where she served as the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinator and a faculty member in the History Department. Jessica brings with her a strong focus on what is at the heart of developing and strengthening an equitable and inclusive culture. We’re eager to share more from Jessica in the next issue of Thistletalk.
Sara Leone (L) and Asia Shannon (R)
As outlined in our strategic priority to Strengthen Community, WT is committed to ensuring that all students are supported, appreciated, and cared for by addressing our institutional practices and our school model. The expertise of our counselors, Sara Leone in Middle School and Asia Shannon in Upper School, move this work forward while providing critical support for our students. This is especially important today as we continue to navigate the challenges of COVID-19, racial injustice, and other trials that our students experience every day.
“Research shows that having an inclusive community has numerous positive outcomes for students and staff,” notes Shannon. “I am committed to creating opportunities and programming that embrace all people collectively, which in turn fosters an environment that all can take pride in.”
On Thursday, February 11, employees gathered via Zoom to explore a wide offering of diversity, equity, and inclusion topics. With workshops ranging from Fostering Equitable Change to DEI as the Basis for Strong and Effective Social-Emotional Learning, employees had the opportunity to learn new methods, explore alternative viewpoints, and embark on ways to foster connections.
Workshop leader Ashley Lipscomb, CEO and Co-Founder of the Institute for Anti-Racist Education
Sophomore Nur Turner (L) and Freshman Torey Bullock (R) prep spring snack bags for their Lower School buddies.
The African American Buddy program was developed several years ago to create a space where Lower School African American students have the opportunity to see a reflection of themselves in Upper School students, affirming their common identities. This sense of belonging and connection is intended to create an early sense of safety and respect for WT’s African American student community. While activities this year have been constrained by the pandemic, the connections have remained strong with virtual activities.
Address Research Recommendations
WT’s partnership this past school year with The Glasgow Group, experts in the field of equity and inclusion, was designed to help WT interrogate the lived experiences of all constituent groups. Insights and recommendations from the group’s year-long, in-depth research will be included in the next issue of Thistletalk.