HS campus grassy quad tree leaves

Next Steps

Dear Waverly Community,

On July 2, we wrote to you about the Insta­gram account on which BIPOC students are posting and comment­ing on their expe­ri­ences of racism at Waverly. In that letter, we commit­ted to deep personal and insti­tu­tional reflec­tion and an even greater commit­ment to making the school’s mission and diver­sity, equity, and inclu­sion (DEI) state­ments true for all members of our commu­nity. We pledged to do the daily, conscious work neces­sary to disman­tle racism and other forms of oppres­sion within our school.

We are taking the time to vigor­ously analyze the causes of our various fail­ures and find the best path forward. We know that this work will be strength­ened by the more collec­tive discus­sion and deci­sion making that can occur when we are reunited as a commu­nity, hope­fully in person, in August and Septem­ber. We commit ourselves to becom­ing fully respon­sive to the needs of all our students, with partic­u­lar atten­tion and dedi­ca­tion to those BIPOC students whom we have failed.

We know that we will need the help of those outside of our school who might hold up a mirror so that we can more honestly see ourselves, and thus lead us towards a more just future. We have been actively research­ing orga­ni­za­tions special­iz­ing in and known for their methods and imple­men­ta­tion of restora­tive justice in order to counsel and support all constituents of the Waverly commu­nity – students, parents, admin­is­tra­tion, staff, faculty – to begin the work of healing so vitally neces­sary. When students return to us this fall, we commit to prior­i­tiz­ing the healing work that needs to be done and design­ing a sched­ule and program that ensures this will happen. We commit to empow­er­ing students with restora­tive justice lead­er­ship train­ing in advo­cacy and empathy and provid­ing our faculty with values-based facil­i­ta­tion train­ing to ensure the sustain­abil­ity of these prac­tices. We will hold space for every­one who has been harmed as well as for those who seek to make amends.

In consul­ta­tion with outside experts, we will undergo a compre­hen­sive struc­tural assess­ment of our school climate and culture. All members of the commu­nity will be invited to engage in this process, in the hopes that we will delve deeply and honestly into the ways we have not yet lived up to our mission and to illu­mi­nate the path forward. We are commit­ted to this active inter­ro­ga­tion and ulti­mate disman­tling of prob­lem­atic systems that are currently in place.

Another step we will take right now is to thor­oughly revise our inci­dent proto­cols in order to consis­tently employ restora­tive justice strate­gies to address harms. We are working with an expert in this field to train admin­is­tra­tion in infus­ing trauma-informed and survivor-centered approaches into our policy and process.

We are commit­ted to support­ing the mission of a student-initi­ated peer advo­cacy group whose mandate will be center­ing student voices in matters of report­ing and resolv­ing commu­nity conflict. We are commit­ted to train­ing these students as peer coun­selors and sustain­ing their work and initia­tives. We are also doing every­thing in our capac­ity to supple­ment our commu­nity with student support posi­tions in a way that will serve our students now and in the future.

Now is the time to take big, bold steps towards truly embody­ing and fulfill­ing our mission. Our goal must be to create an insti­tu­tion that inhab­its justice in every form. There is much to be done, and the steps we have outlined here are but a few of the many we need to take. As a school, we should model the processes neces­sary to disman­tle oppres­sive systems, to heal, and to rebuild.

Sincerely,

Heidi Johnson
Head of School