By Dr. Chandani Patel, Director of Equity and Inclusion
My second year in the inaugural director of equity and inclusion role was an opportunity to build capacity across the school so that more individuals share the responsibility for advancing an equitable and inclusive school community. One key addition this year was the Divisional Equity and Inclusion Coordinators program, through which one faculty member in each division coordinated learning and action centered on equity and inclusion. These coordinators now help make up the Office of Equity and Inclusion, which brings together key partners across the school to collaborate on equity and inclusion initiatives, including the committees listed below. This year in review highlights programs and initiatives we led this year to cultivate a community where each member thrives.
This year in review highlights programs and initiatives we led this year to cultivate a community where each member thrives.
We want to thank the students, faculty, staff, trustees, alumni, and parents/caregivers who have contributed to this work this year. We look forward to working with many more of you in the years to come.
New Faculty Support for 2022–2023
During the 2022–2023 school year, divisional equity and inclusion coordinators collaborated with and provided support to faculty colleagues to advance equity and inclusion in classrooms and divisions. Coordinators worked closely with Dr. Patel and division principals to identify key needs, design resources, and facilitate learning opportunities. The coordinators were Quincy Jackson (Beginning School), Abigail Bacon (Lower School), Susan Phillips (Middle School), and Dr. Kate Taylor (Upper School).
We also hosted a national Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity seminar, led by fifth-grade teacher Jen Bourque, where participants considered how they can use their classrooms, communities, or workplaces to create a more equitable environment for all.
2022–2023 DEI Committees and Affinity Groups
- JEDI Committee: This faculty and staff committee focused on four main areas this year: community education, inclusive and accessible practices, curriculum, and making our core values actionable.
- Student JEDI leaders: This group of Upper School students developed and facilitated learning opportunities for peers, including on topics like microaggressions and recognizing and respecting differences.
- Affinity groups: Affinity groups—spaces that bring together people with common identifiers or life experiences—in the lower, middle, and upper schools built relationships and engaged in shared learning (see list of groups below). A faculty and staff BIPOC affinity group, for those who identify as Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color, gathered to recognize cultural heritage months and build community. The White Antiracist Educators group met to discuss key readings related to equity and inclusion and ways to activate allyship.
- Inclusion, Outreach, and Equity (IEO) Committee: This committee of board members and administrators worked to identify and support strategic alignment centered on Rowland Hall’s priority to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion across the school community.
Student Affinity Groups
Sixteen affinity groups supported lower, middle, and upper schoolers this year:
- Banana Splits, Lower School*
- Kids of Color, Lower School*
- Rainbow Club, Lower School*
- Neurodivergent and Allies Affinity Group, Middle School*
- Sexuality and Gender Alliance, Middle School
- Students of Color, Middle School*
- Asian Affinity Group, Upper School
- Black Student Union, Upper School*
- Girls of Color, Upper School
- Infinity: Neurodivergent and Allies Affinity Group, Upper School*
- Jewish Affinity Group, Upper School
- Latine Affinity Group, Upper School
- Multiracial Affinity Group, Upper School*
- Muslim Affinity Group, Upper School
- Pagan Affinity Group, Upper School*
- Queer Straight Alliance, Upper School
*New in 2022–2023
Affinity groups in the Lower School are requested by families, led by faculty mentors, and provide space to build community and support. Affinity groups in the middle and upper schools are requested by students and are student-led in terms of topics and activities. Those interested in forming affinity groups should speak to their principal (Ingrid Gustavson, Upper School, or Pam Smith, Middle School) or Dr. Patel.
- MLK Week 2023: Afrofuturism: Building a Beloved Future: This year’s MLK week theme, Afrofuturism, invited us to imagine more inclusive futures and featured two prominent guest speakers: New York Times bestselling author Rio Cortez and youth climate activist Aniya Butler. Rio Cortez’s community poetry reading, “Afrofuturism, Frontiers, and Pioneers,” drew over 100 audience members from the broader community. The daylong student program featured dance, poetry readings, discussion, and artifact creation, all centered on building a future in which all individuals are celebrated.
- The Future of STEM: A Symposium With Local Innovators: This inaugural program was designed to offer our middle and upper school students an opportunity to learn from innovators in STEM about the state of their fields and about their journeys to their current roles. The program was also a recognition of Women’s History Month, highlighting prominent women leaders in STEM and providing allies with some tools to support underrepresented folks in STEM.
- Pride Parade 2023: More than 100 participants from the Rowland Hall community marched in the Utah Pride Parade this year. The group was led by student members of the Upper School’s Queer Straight Alliance and Middle School’s Sexuality and Gender Alliance.
Deliberate Dialogue Series
- Practice the Unpracticed: A Deliberate Dialogue On Racism (November) was an opportunity for the community to practice unpracticed conversations together around topics of race and racism.
- Making the Invisible Visible: A Deliberate Dialogue on Neurodiversity (March) was a forum for the community to learn about neurodiversity and how it impacts all types of learners, including the challenges and opportunities they encounter in educational settings.
- Celebrating Our Stories: A Deliberate Dialogue on Storytelling (May) allowed participants to explore how different ways of storytelling can help us connect to others' stories as windows or mirrors to our own experiences.
Have You Been Wondering About… Resource Series
- The Office of Equity and Inclusion continued our series Have You Been Wondering About… as resources to help deepen learning in our community. This year’s topics were “How Racism Affects All of Us,” “Neurodiversity,” and “How to Be an Upstander.”
Banner photo: Aniya Butler and Rio Cortez join Dr. Chandani Patel for Rowland Hall's Afrofuturism event in January 2023.