Diversity Strengthens Community

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Beginning schoolers play with each other outside.

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

We believe that everyone deserves respect and a welcome place in our community. Educational excellence is possible when all members of a community have a voice and feel safe being their authentic selves.

Ways to Take Action

Attend a Virtual Evening of Dialogue

Check back here soon for details on the next one. These semiannual events—typically called Dinner & Dialogue—aim to promote dialogue in our community and support the school's commitment to justice and equity for everyone.

Join a Justice, Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion (JEDI) Committee

  • Faculty/staff meetings are held bimonthly on Mondays from 3:30 to 4:45 pm—view all 2021–2022 meeting dates. For more information, contact committee chair and Director of Equity and Inclusion, Dr. Chandani Patel.
  • Student meeting dates will be shared here when available. For more information, contact faculty mentor Dr. Kate Taylor.

Join one of our other antiracist or affinity groups

Affinity spaces bring together people who have a common identifier—race, gender, ethnicity, etc.—or shared experiences.

Apply to attend an annual conference

We typically send groups of students and faculty/staff to the National Association of Independent Schools People of Color Conference and Student Diversity Leadership Conference and the White Privilege Conference.

Self-educate

Gallery: Posters from Past Dinner & Dialogue Events

Poster of sweeping land and sky in illustrated format
Amplifying Black Voices poster

Fall 2020: Amplifying Black Voices in Our Community

Building Antibias in Families poster

Spring 2020: Building Anti-Bias in Families

Privilege, Power, and Dominant Thought Cultures poster

Fall 2019: Privilege, Power, and Dominant Thought Cultures

Courageous Conversations poster

Spring 2018: Courageous Conversations

This is Where We're From: Telling Our Origin Stories poster

Spring 2017: This is Where We're From: Telling Our Origin Stories

Celebrating All Families poster

Fall 2016: Celebrating All Families

Rethinking Disability poster

Spring 2016: Rethinking (Dis)Ability

Black Social Change poster

Winter 2016: Black Social Change: Preserving the Story in Utah

Related Programs

Portrait of Chandani Patel, Director of Equity and Inclusion

Dr. Chandani Patel
Director of Equity & InclusionLearn more about Dr. Patel

Dr. Kate Taylor smiling at colleagues during a graduation ceremony.

Read Dr. Kate Taylor's remarks that preceded antiracist workshops in summer 2020. “The goal is to commit to personal accountability, growth, and action toward building an antiracist culture at Rowland Hall. A culture where students and faculty will not hesitate to affirm that Black Lives Matter.”

Editor’s note: Upper School English teacher Dr. Kate Taylor—a champion of inclusion and equity work at Rowland Hall—gave these focusing remarks over Zoom during a week of virtual professional development covering hybrid learning and antiracism. Teachers read Bettina Love's “An Essay for Teachers Who Understand Racism Is Real” prior to Kate’s remarks. Afterwards, they met in small, cross-divisional groups to share thoughts from the reading and explore and identify intentions for the Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) Learning Choice Board.

Good morning! Thank you for joining us. If you don’t yet know me, my name is Kate Taylor and I teach tenth-grade English in the Upper School. I am here speaking on behalf of the group that helped organize this week’s antiracist learning. Those folks are Allison Spehar, Emma Wellman, Abby Bacon, Jij de Jesus, Ryan Hoglund, Wendell Thomas, and Jennifer Blake. As current and past leaders of the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee and members of the senior administration team, we wanted to bring everyone together this morning to collectively frame the work that our school community will be doing this week around anti-racism. 

The goal here is not just to read a few articles and collectively wring our hands. The goal is to commit to personal accountability, growth, and action toward building an antiracist culture at Rowland Hall. A culture where students and faculty will not hesitate to affirm that Black Lives Matter.

Many public figures have observed that because of COVID-19, our world will not be the same, that this epidemic has changed the way our world works. We can certainly see how it has changed our teaching. 

This group hopes that the same is true of the recent global response against racism after the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. Too many times we have had such wake-up calls and, after a brief outcry, returned to the same operating procedures as before that lead to a culture where Black lives don’t matter. For our Black colleagues and students, we need to do better. For the entire community, we need to do better. 

As Bettina Love describes in the article we all read in preparation for today, we need to “leverage [our] power, privilege, and resources in solidarity with justice movements to dismantle White supremacy. Co-conspirators function as verbs, not as nouns.” 

We want to be clear. The goal here is not just to read a few articles and collectively wring our hands. The goal is to commit to personal accountability, growth, and action toward building an antiracist culture at Rowland Hall. A culture where students and faculty will not hesitate to affirm that Black Lives Matter. 

Our work as a community of antiracist educators is not to tell students what to think but to make sure we are giving space for them to think deeply and honestly about our history and to shift our school culture.

Our students expect this of us; they are participating in rallies and demonstrations, reading and making social media posts, seeing people across the country stand up and say, “enough.” They are going to be asking questions, wanting dialogue, and wondering if we are taking this seriously. Our work as a community of antiracist educators is not to tell students what to think but to make sure we are giving space for them to think deeply and honestly about our history and to shift our school culture. The training this week focuses on building our own knowledge and skills to create antiracist policies and curriculum, identify and speak out against anti-Black ideas, and acknowledge and move our school’s culture away from one that is centered on Whiteness. 

Arthur Ashe said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” We recognize that all of us as teachers and educators are at different points in our journey and yet, like moving to distance learning, we need everyone to make substantial progress in their own racial identification and acknowledgment of privilege. As we do this work, please be okay with mistakes, your own and others'. Even when the work might feel uncomfortable, we invite you to sit with that discomfort, recognize it as a sign of how important this learning is, and then commit to action on behalf of our Black students and families knowing that these actions will also support all of our families of color, of different genders and sexualities, and of different socioeconomic backgrounds. 

And now I invite you all to join your learning cohort for today’s small group discussions. Thank you for joining us.

Read More: Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

inclusion & equity

Fourth Grade Students at Ensign Peak

Rowland Hall celebrates and welcomes diversity. We believe that everyone benefits from exposure to a variety of lived experiences, and we have long been committed to the necessary work around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). 

Rowland Hall celebrates and welcomes diversity. We believe that everyone benefits from exposure to a variety of lived experiences, and we have long been committed to the necessary work around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). 

Rowland Hall represents a diverse community that encompasses differences in the human experience including those of ethnicity, race, national origin, family composition, religion, gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and learning styles, among others.

As part of our strategic plan and accreditation work during the 2002–2003 school year, Rowland Hall identified the need for a diversity plan and put into place a list of action items to give the administration direction on specific areas in which to work. By 2008, our Board of Trustees had confirmed our first formal diversity mission statement, which was combined with a formal diversity plan in 2010. Over time, we have put into place traditions, practices, and policies that support justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) including:

  • Formalizing an Inclusion and Equity Committee (2008), now called the JEDI Committee
  • Establishing the Dinner and Dialogues series (2010)
  • Beginning our annual attendance at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Student Diversity Leadership Conference (2012)
  • Hiring a director of ethical education (2015)
  • Adding positive racial identity to curriculum (2015)
  • Establishing a professional growth focus on inclusion and equity (2016)
  • Initiating a JEDI component to new faculty/staff orientation (2016)
  • Confirming support of and education on gender identities (2017)
  • Creating the Board of Trustees’ Inclusion, Equity, and Outreach Committee (2019)

Beginning in 2017, we also began strategically shifting to a more explicit focus on action; we examined stereotype threats in teaching and learning, and provided professional development centered around cultural competency. These steps led to the identification of three priorities for Rowland Hall: furthering JEDI in curriculum and programs, exploring affinity groups, and increasing diversity by emphasizing faculty/staff racial diversity through hiring and retention practices and strategies. Support for these priorities continues today, with JEDI Committee members providing DEI leadership and the Board’s Inclusion, Equity, and Outreach Committee dedicating its first year to identifying and supporting strategic alignment and priorities on the principles of inclusion, equity, and outreach, in partnership with the JEDI Committee.

In June 2020, Rowland Hall faculty devoted professional-development time to hybrid learning around antiracist education. All faculty members worked in cross-divisional cohorts to strengthen their ability to support positive identity development in students, lead conversations around racial discrimination and privilege, and begin to evaluate curriculum through an antiracist lens, improving the experience of all students. A remarkable 97% of teachers identified this work as critical to their daily practice. 

We acknowledge that all JEDI work identifies opportunities for further learning—this is a journey, not a destination—and at Rowland Hall, we are dedicated to this ongoing process of vulnerable learning and conversation.

An Invitation to Take Action

  • Join a JEDI Committee. We offer groups for faculty and staff, students, and parents and caregivers.
  • Attend Dinner and Dialogue meetings, offered 2–3 times a year.
  • Educate yourself with antiracist books, articles, videos, and more: rowlandhall.org/inclusion-equity
  • For community members of color: Students can apply to be part of Rowland Hall’s delegation at NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conferences and/or NWAIS Student Diversity Leadership Retreat; students, caregivers, faculty, and staff are invited to join or attend affinity groups; and faculty and staff are invited to apply to attend the NAIS People of Color Conference.
  • For White faculty and staff: Join Rowland Hall’s antiracist book club and/or apply to attend the White Privilege Conference.

We also encourage parents and caregivers to seek out and follow Black/Brown nonprofit social media accounts like @theconsciouskid to help educate yourself; you can also visit @nmaahc’s website for a comprehensive Talking about Race web portal. And if you want to hear familiar voices give tips on talking to kids about race, listen to episode 1.03 of our princiPALS podcast.

COMMITMENT TO DEI WORK

The Benefits of a Diverse Community

Rowland Hall’s diversity—encompassing differences in the human experience including those of ethnicity, race, national origin, family composition, religion, gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and learning styles—expands our perspectives, fosters understanding and creativity, and ultimately strengthens our community.

Through championing diversity, Rowland Hall empowers students to form meaningful relationships with people from all walks of life and to succeed in an increasingly globalized, heterogeneous society.

Inclusion & Equity Stories in Fine Print Magazine

Banner featuring Chandani Patel, Director of Equity and Inclusion

Following a four-month national search, Rowland Hall is excited to announce that Dr. Chandani Patel will take the reins on July 1 as our first director of equity and inclusion.

Chandani (pronounced ChAHn-dhuh-nee) has spent the last 10 years advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives across a number of institutions. For the past 18 months, she has served as the director for global diversity education for New York University (NYU), where she provides strategic direction and works with faculty on curriculum and instruction that is centered in DEI. Before that, she was senior assistant director at Columbia University’s Center for Teaching and Learning, where she developed pedagogical workshops and online resources to support instructors in creating inclusive classroom spaces. 

Chandani Patel with husband Brady and daughter Aashna.

  Chandani Patel with husband Brady and daughter Aashna.

“I believe deeply in relationship building across a community,” Chandani said. “I look forward to being part of a community where all voices are represented so that we can work towards building an inclusive teaching and learning environment for all students, faculty, staff, and families.”

Chandani has taught and written extensively on how concepts of race, identity, and belonging shift across places, languages, and cultures. She holds a PhD from the University of Chicago, where she studied comparative literature with a focus on South Asian and African literatures. She also holds a BA in comparative literature and an MA in humanities and social thought, both from NYU.

Our search for a director of equity and inclusion began in mid-November, following the announcement of a $2.4 million donation from the Cumming Family Foundation to create the first endowed position in school history. Former head of school Alan Sparrow, who retired last June, worked closely with the Cumming family to articulate our DEI vision and secure the gift, which ensures we have a permanent, full-time leader to guide us in this important work. At a time when pivotal conversations about racial justice are occurring across the nation, we’re so grateful to the Cummings for their generosity and leadership. Their gift supports our core value of welcoming everyone, elevates our institutional commitment to DEI, and sets a precedent for schools in Utah and beyond.

Rowland Hall is forever grateful for the Cumming Family Foundation's $2.4 million gift to create the school's first endowed role, ensuring we have a permanent leader to guide us in this important work.

To ensure an effective search, Rowland Hall partnered with StratéGenius, a Berkeley-based firm with extensive experience cultivating, recruiting, and placing educators in DEI leadership positions at independent schools. Indeed, the process moved along efficiently and transparently: by the first week of March, school community members had a chance to virtually chat with and provide feedback on three finalists. According to our search committee—co-chaired by Head of School Mick Gee and Beginning School Principal Emma Wellman—Chandani rose to the top for our community due to her expertise, professionalism, sincere approachability, and willingness to dig deep in this important role. 

“The search committee was drawn to Chandani’s focus on building communities of belonging where members feel safe to learn and grow together,” Mick said. Chandani, in turn, said she’s excited to discover areas of growth within Rowland Hall where she can center equity in conversations and support inclusive dialogue.

Chandani will relocate to Salt Lake City this summer with husband Brady Smith, daughter Aashna (age 4), and dog Maddy. Chandani’s parents, Vaishali and Sanjay, will also be relocating to the area. Please join us in welcoming Chandani and her family to Rowland Hall!

Equity & Inclusion

Lisa Brown Miranda greets Lincoln Street Campus students on the first day of school in August.

Enrolling in a new school can be scary. Enrolling in a new school during a pandemic can kick those nerves up a notch. For new Rowland Hall sixth grader Sofia Drakou, one smiling staffer not only assuaged her fears, but left her feeling like she was flying—a familiar sensation for this young ballerina.

Before an August Zoom meeting with Rowland Hall Associate Director of Admission Lisa Brown Miranda, Sofia didn’t know what to expect from her new school. But as the two discussed everything from classes to teachers to balancing extracurriculars (Sofia has an increasingly demanding schedule with Ballet West Academy), Lisa put the rising sixth grader at ease: “As soon as she started talking to me, she won my heart with her enthusiasm and genuine interest in my feelings, expectations, and worries,” Sofia said of Lisa. 

“Lisa encouraged me and showed me that in her, I had found a reliable, empathetic, and kind person, and a valuable advisor to reach out if I needed to. This was, and still is, very important to me, and I will always be thankful for her presence in my life,” Sofia explained. “After our meeting, I felt like I was flying, and I couldn’t wait to come to Rowland Hall because she made me feel like I was welcomed before I even started school!”

I wanted to make sure that the books included inspiring people of color who mirror Ms. Miranda’s empowering personality and the diversity of our amazing school community.—Sixth grader Sofia Drakou

That pivotal meeting left Sofia eager to reciprocate Lisa’s kindness. To express her gratitude, the sixth grader and her brother—eleventh grader George—picked, purchased, and donated 10 children’s books related to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) to the McCarthey Campus library in honor of Lisa, who is Black and has been a champion of JEDI values at the school since her 2014 hiring. Indeed, Lisa is a dedicated member of the faculty/staff JEDI Committee and she and daughter Gabriella, a freshman, participated as panelists during that committee’s November 17 Amplifying Black Voices virtual evening of dialogue. Lisa also currently serves on the search committee for the school’s newly endowed director of equity and inclusion position. Beyond her JEDI-related services to the school, Lisa is simply a warm, caring ambassador for Rowland Hall. As she jets around the Lincoln Street Campus, she’s often seen greeting people by name and building them up in passing encounters, offering her colleagues effusive thanks for collaborating on past projects or, for students, asking how a test or weekend athletics competition went and praising their evolving talents and efforts.

Siblings George and Sofia hold up four books that they donated in Lisa Brown Miranda's honor.

Sibling students George and Sofia with four of the books they donated in Lisa Brown Miranda's honor.

“I wanted to make sure that the books included inspiring people of color who mirror Ms. Miranda’s empowering personality and the diversity of our amazing school community,” Sofia explained, “so young students at Rowland Hall can read about people and characters they can connect with, and be inspired by them.” The sixth grader hopes the books—which she and her brother donated on February 9—raise awareness of JEDI values at Rowland Hall, and help the school and its young students celebrate Black History Month.

My heart is bursting. Your gift will allow so many of our youngest learners to see themselves joyfully represented and will elicit pride in themselves and their families.—Associate Director of Admission Lisa Brown Miranda

Lisa said the donation left her overcome with joy. “I am proud of you always, always, but today my heart is bursting,” Lisa wrote to Sofia and George. “Your gift will allow so many of our youngest learners to see themselves joyfully represented and will elicit pride in themselves and their families. Other students will have the opportunity to learn about what makes their classmates special and beautiful in their own way. What a glorious gift!”  

As for Rowland Hall newbie Sofia, she’s off to a fantastic start and is even following in Lisa’s footsteps: she'll join six of her Middle School classmates to serve on Rowland Hall’s delegation at the Northwest Association of Independent Schools virtual Student Diversity Leadership Retreat March 1–2.

Rowland Hall thanks Sofia, George, and their parents for these wonderful additions to the McCarthey Campus library: 

  • Equality's Call: The Story of Voting Rights in America, by author Deborah Diesen and illustrator Magdalena Mora
  • Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story, by author Kevin Noble Maillard and illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal
  • Last Stop on Market Street, by author Matt de la Peña and illustrator Christian Robinson
  • My Little Golden Book About Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by author Shana Corey and illustrator Margeaux Lucas
  • The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read, by author Rita Lorraine Hubbard and illustrator Oge Mora
  • The Power of Her Pen: The Story of Groundbreaking Journalist Ethel L. Payne, by author Lesa Cline-Ransome and illustrator John Parra
  • Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World, by author Susan Hood and illustrators Sophie Blackall, Emily Winfield Martin, Shadra Strickland, Melissa Sweet, LeUyen Pham, Oge Mora, Julie Morstad, Lisa Brown, Selina Alko, Hadley Hooper, Isabel Roxas, Erin Robinson, and Sara Palacios
  • Sometimes People March, by author and illustrator Tessa Allen
  • Thank You, Omu, by author and illustrator Oge Mora
  • We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, by author Traci Sorell and illustrator Frane Lessac

Community

PrinciPALS Jij de Jesus and Emma Wellman on Rowland Hall's McCarthey Campus

Rowland Hall is pleased to announce that “How to Talk to Kids about Race,” the third episode of the school’s princiPALS podcast, won silver for a single podcast episode in the 2020 InspirED Brilliance Awards. This is Rowland Hall’s fifth Brilliance Award since 2017.

2020 InspirED Brilliance Award Winner badge


The InspirED School Marketers Brilliance Awards is the only international competition that recognizes excellence in private and independent school marketing and communications exclusively. Entries, divided into 30 categories, were judged by a volunteer panel of 69 marketing experts from around the world who are professionals in private schools or businesses that specialize in school marketing, and were scored on creativity, persuasiveness, design, copy, photography, and overall appeal. The judges chose “How to Talk to Kids about Race” for the timeliness of the subject, the strong advice presented to listeners, and the overall branding.

"The topic is timely and I appreciated hearing about the research and action items to take,” said one judge. Another commented, “Really smart advice, well-presented.”

PrinciPALS launched in October 2019 as a resource for parents and caregivers navigating common questions and concerns about the preschool and elementary school years. The podcast features Beginning School Principal Emma Wellman and Lower School Principal Jij de Jesus, and is hosted by alumnus Conor Bentley ’01. All episodes of princiPALS are available on Rowland Hall's website, Stitcher, and Apple Podcasts.

Podcast

Two Rowland Hall Middle School students work on an assignment.

After four months of work—including meeting with Black alums and current students—alums Ikwo Frank ’13, Julia Bodson ’12, and Shelby Matsumura ’13 emailed Rowland Hall leaders a Black Lives Matter call-to-action letter last month and invite anyone who supports their cause to add their name.

We believe that Rowland Hall must move beyond words of solidarity and take actions that promote antiracism and diversity in our school community.Call-to-Action Letter

In their October 26 email to Head of School Mick Gee, Board Chair Christopher Von Maack ’97, and Inclusion, Equity, and Outreach Committee Chair Bing Fang, the alum trio wrote that the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor motivated them to craft the call to action. The letter, in turn, implores their alma mater to “move beyond words of solidarity and take actions that promote antiracism and diversity in our school community.”

In addition to meeting with current and former students to write the document, Ikwo, Julia, and Shelby collaborated with members of the greater community—including Pastor Robert Merrills of Murray Baptist Church, who helped them “deliver concrete and attainable goals for making Rowland Hall an antiracist institution.” Indeed, the powerful two-page letter contains 16 bulleted suggestions divided into four categories: improving the representation of Black people and people of color within the school community; integrating antiracism learning into curriculum and diversifying library and classroom materials; giving back to the local and national Black communities; and staying accountable in tackling these issues.

“We hope this letter is received with an open, critical, and forward-thinking mind,” the trio wrote in their introductory email. “Compared to other educational institutions in Utah, Rowland Hall offers an inclusive, diverse, and progressive education. We are grateful to have learned in such an environment; it's why we think Rowland Hall will be receptive to this cause. We can do better, together.”

Rowland Hall is incredibly thankful for Ikwo, Julia, and Shelby’s efforts. We’re committed to becoming an antiracist organization and we’ll use their suggestions to develop a comprehensive plan for improving racial equity. We’ll release that plan by summer, as requested. One pivotal action we plan to accomplish by then: hiring a new director of equity and inclusion, an endowed position Mick announced on November 16.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion have been school priorities for the past decade, but this alum-written letter plays a meaningful role in propelling Rowland Hall forward and focusing and formalizing our efforts. Ikwo, Julia, and Shelby have asked us to share the letter, so on their behalf: if you concur, please add your name.

Sign the Letter

alumni

You Belong at Rowland Hall