Diversity Strengthens Community

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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.

Mission & Philosophy

Ways We Take Action

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 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.

Key Partners

Many people in the Rowland Hall community are instrumental to fulfilling our DEI mission and moving this work forward. Key partners include Director of Ethical Education Ryan Hoglund and Director of Teaching and Learning Wendell Thomas. Ryan is essential to community-wide programs and also leads the White Antiracist Educators group, while Wendell supports DEI-centered professional learning and curriculum connection points.

Equity & Inclusion Stories in Fine Print Magazine

Author Rio Cortez and youth climate activist Aniya Butler join Rowland Hall's Afrofuturism event in January 2023.

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.

Images from Rowland Hall's 2023 STEM Symposium.

Images from The Future of STEM symposium.

2022–2023 Programming

  • 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. 

Community Education

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

Images from Rowland Hall Deliberate Dialogue events, 2022–2023.

Images from this year's Deliberate Dialogue events.


Banner photo: Aniya Butler and Rio Cortez join Dr. Chandani Patel for Rowland Hall's Afrofuturism event in January 2023.

DEI

A painting of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. hangs on a wall in Rowland Hall's Middle School
Beloved Community Photo Gallery


This week, Rowland Hall celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and legacy by focusing on the ways we can build a beloved community—a trusting, loving place where all people feel welcome and where individuals unite across differences.

Because each person in a community plays a role in realizing this vision, Rowland Hall dedicated the week surrounding Martin Luther King Jr. Day to a series of events and conversations designed to prompt reflection and foster solidarity towards action. 

"Students across the lower, middle, and upper schools were able to collectively engage in a program called Beloved@RowlandHall,” said Dr. Chandani Patel, director of equity and inclusion. “The interconnected program focused on Dr. King's idea of the beloved community, one that leads with love, understanding, and solidarity. Beloved@RowlandHall helped remind students that each of them holds the potential and responsibility to be a changemaker and that each of them is a valued and integral member of our beloved community."

Beloved@RowlandHall helped remind students that each of them holds the potential and responsibility to be a changemaker and that each of them is a valued and integral member of our beloved community.—Dr. Chandani Patel, director of equity and inclusion

On January 14, middle and upper schoolers had the opportunity to view the Brolly Arts film Beloved Community, a documentary featuring some of Utah’s civil rights leaders, and enjoy a performance by Utah’s Hip Hop Education and Resource Center—activities that, Dr. Patel explained, allowed them “to interrogate the power of storytelling through multiple methods towards a shared goal of recognition—of ourselves, each other, and our community.” Students then created artifacts depicting what they need from one another to feel beloved and how they can help build a community in which each member feels valued, integral, and beloved.

At Lower School’s annual Changemaker Chapel, held on January 18, students continued this practice of creating their own reflective artifacts, as well as learned from dancer and educator Ursula Perry, who performed a piece for students and “elicited their reflections about Dr. King, movement, stories, and each of their hopes for the world,” said Dr. Patel.

In addition to student events, Rowland Hall celebrated Dr. King’s legacy with a virtual evening of dialogue for all members of the school community. After viewing Beloved Community, participants had the chance to engage in a Q&A session featuring the Rev. France Davis, pastor emeritus, Calvary Baptist Church; Marian D. Howe-Taylor, communication and media outreach manager, Salt Lake Community College, and co-creator, Black Social Change Utah; Ursula Perry, dancer, Repertory Dance Theatre; and Amy MacDonald, director and founder, Brolly Arts.

Thank you to all members of the Rowland Hall community for your thoughtful participation this week and for the steps you are taking to shape our beloved community. As you continue on your own personal journey, we invite you to view educational material related to Brolly Arts’ current project, Black Social Change Utah 2.0. Also, keep an eye on our diversity, equity, and inclusion web page, where we’ll continue to announce upcoming evenings of dialogue.

Equity & Inclusion

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

You Belong at Rowland Hall