Director of Equity and Inclusion Diane Nichols is leading the work–and the way–of WT’s growing emphasis on equity and inclusion.
“Working within the framework of competencies, curriculum, and composition, we are building a solid infrastructure,” says Nichols. “We’re developing programs, policies, and coursework that will institutionalize equity and inclusion practices throughout the school in both the near-term and far into the future.”
Key to this work is an emphasis on identifying diversity. “As a school, we have struggled to acknowledge our diversity and to gather the data to understand it,” reflects Nichols. “There is a need for us to openly engage in conversation around who’s in the room, and how individuals identify themselves. A quantifiable understanding of our diversity will ensure that the equity and inclusion structures we design are effective. Equity, inclusion, and diversity need to walk hand-in-hand.”
Nichols has developed a structure that fortifies all three. “The goal is now to standardize them so that they simply become a natural part of who we are,” declares Nichols.
The central components include:
Equity and Inclusion Liaison Positions
These are the eyes and ears on the ground level, the people working directly within different spaces, departments, and divisions, with teams and students, in the day-to-day experiences around how diversity, equity, and inclusion are showing up.
Professional Development Three-Year Rotation
Over the next three years, faculty and staff will participate in workshops, training sessions, and discussions to standardize expectations around expertise, knowledge, and skill-building in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Topics will include understanding socialization around identity, looking at equitable practices in the classroom, and developing culturally responsive teaching and learning.
Student, Parent, and Employee Equity and Inclusion Committees
Individuals desiring to more actively help implement the equity and inclusion statement, and enhance the life and experiences of a particular WT constituency, can join groups involved in an array of mechanisms such as book discussions.
Whether students, parents, or employees, opportunities will be created for underrepresented or marginalized members of the community—such as LGBTQ, African American, or parents of students with learning differences—to come together for meetings, social gatherings, or guest speakers. Here, they can connect to support and affirm one another, and educate the larger community.
PK-12 Curriculum Review
An assessment is ongoing of the ways in which diversity, equity, and inclusion practices are showing up in the curriculum, and in the day-to-day learning experiences for students. This may include reviewing the ways teachers manage their classrooms, or challenging people to think about cultural norms and how they support and affirm learning for all.