A continuing commitment to equity and diversity is one of three ideals embraced within Waverly’s mission statement.
The aims of our work in equity and diversity are broad:
The Waverly School is committed to social justice education and thus seeks to provide all members of the community with the tools to recognize and speak out against acts of bias and the discriminatory systems of power that produce structural inequalities. The school is committed to treating individuals with dignity and providing an environment where all members of the community can engage in dialogue, question, learn, and contribute fully. This commitment to full participation encourages community members to be self-reflective about their attitudes toward themselves and others. An equitable and diverse school community makes members better informed, more empathetic, and better prepared to effect positive change in the world. To that end, Waverly fosters an environment in which individual differences of race, ethnicity, biological sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic circumstance, national origin, immigration status, ability and disability, physical characteristics, religious belief, and all aspects of identity are acknowledged and celebrated.
In 2018, as part of its self-evaluation for re-accreditation by the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS), the school’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee identified race as the initial area of focus; and addressing white privilege and fragility as core areas for growth at the personal, interpersonal, institutional, and cultural levels.
During the 2019 – 2020 year, faculty and staff participated in numerous professional development trainings and multicultural workshops including with Visions, Inc.; Southern California People of Color in Independent Schools (SoCal POCIS); The Independent School Alliance Conference; The National Association of Independent Schools People of Color Conference (PoCC); and The Teaching Tolerance Institute (Learning for Justice).
The work of the 2019 – 2020 DEI committee focused on implementing and facilitating faculty and staff affinity groups, centered around common readings and learnings. High school students also worked in affinity space. The elementary school adopted the Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards. The board created a DEI sub-committee, and the school continued to hone the hiring process to further increase diversity in hiring.
Messages from Heidi Johnson
January 25, 2021
The California Conference for Equity and Justice (CCEJ) is finishing up the revisions to their report and preparations for the next stage of their work with our community. The final report and a webinar on restorative justice circles with an accompanying reflection guide will be sent out to the community on February 1. We are also gearing up for a new semester of Love and Justice offerings and programming, with the addition of Ismalis Núñez and Christine Saxman joining the teaching team this spring. Ismalis and Christine will work in concentrated units with each grade level over the course of the semester to give students an opportunity to build racial literacy and racial consciousness, tools to engage in conversations about race, and skills to build healthy interracial and intra-racial communities. This series will allow students to see themselves as agents of change within their community. In addition to their work with high school students, Ismalis and Christine will offer several parent workshops and a book group on Zoom during the second semester. Click here for full message (PDF).
October 9, 2020
In an update on Waverly’s equity and diversity work, the Head of School describes what the school community is doing together with several partners including Ismalis Nuñez, Christine Saxman, and the California Conference for Equality and Justice (CCEJ). A board member is organizing the Waverly Parent Equity and Diversity Committee, which will create affinity spaces for parents and hold space for multicultural dialogue. Elementary teachers are incorporating race, ethnicity, and immigration as aspects of identity in their class themes; the middle school is reading This Book is Anti-Racist this fall; and the high school is launching their Love and Justice program in addition to developing affinity space programming. Click here for full message (PDF).
August 14, 2020
The Head of School reports on the progress made during summer 2020 regarding our work to create a truly just and equitable environment. The administration team commits to becoming fully responsive to the needs of all our students, with particular attention and dedication to our BIPOC students. It is our goal to create an institution that inhabits justice in every form. Click here for full message (PDF).
July 12, 2020
The Head of School outlines the next steps the school is taking to dismantle racism and other forms of oppression within our school. The administration is taking the time to vigorously analyze the causes of our various failures and find the best path forward. In consultation with outside experts, the school will undergo a comprehensive structural assessment of our school climate and culture. 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. Now is the time to take big, bold steps towards truly embodying and fulfilling our mission. As a school, we should model the processes necessary to dismantle oppressive systems, to heal, and to rebuild. Click here for full message (PDF).
July 2, 2020
A letter from the Head of School addressing systemic racism and the experiences of current and former BIPOC students as posted anonymously on Instagram. Their stories are encouraging deep personal and institutional reflection and an even greater commitment to making the school’s mission and equity and diversity statements true for all members of our community. The administration understands that the work of dismantling systemic racism requires daily conscious effort by institutions and individuals. We pledge to do that work, inspired by and for our students, now and in the future. Click here for full message (PDF).
Priorities and goals
Waverly’s goals are to: 1) build a school community that is rich in and supportive of multiple aspects of identity, and 2) establish institutional practices that foster equity so that all members of the community may fully participate and prosper at Waverly.
Fully addressing the above goals requires intensive, focussed work in building communications and collaborative processes, continued, extensive professional development and evaluation, curriculum and co-curriculum development, admissions, committee development, board participation and oversight, and parent education and support.
To fully inhabit Waverly’s mission and ideals, all members of the school must be committed to anti-racism taught within a multicultural framework that fully embraces all aspects of identity. As Waverly seeks to be more diverse, the school must have support systems in place for students of color. An equitable and diverse school community ensures that all students are fully engaged and supported, and makes all students better informed, more empathetic, and better prepared to effect positive change in the world.
Progress and Timeline
2020 – 2021 school year
- Working with the California Conference for Equity and Justice (CCEJ), we underwent a comprehensive structural assessment of our school climate and culture beginning in the fall. All members of the community were invited to engage in this process, to participate in cross-sectional groups, including those with students and adults. The final report plus a webinar on restorative justice circles, with an accompanying reflection guide, were released on February 1, 2021. The results of the report inform our ongoing work. (More information on CCEJ may be found at cacej.org.)
- We have worked with CCEJ to empower students with restorative justice leadership training in advocacy and empathy and to provide our faculty with values-based facilitation training to ensure the sustainability of these practices.
- We have thoroughly revised our incident protocols to consistently employ restorative justice strategies to address harms. We are working with Marianne Frapwell, Senior Manager and Survivor Advocate for Project S.A.F.E. at Occidental College, to train administration in infusing trauma-informed and survivor-centered approaches into our policy and process. All faculty will receive instruction and professional development in trauma-informed practices.
- We are committed to supporting the mission of Raven Advocates, whose mandate will be centering student voices in matters of reporting and resolving community conflict.
- We will be partnering with All Voices, an online platform that will allow employees and parents to anonymously provide feedback to school leadership and engage in dialogue without revealing their identities. After piloting the program with adults in the community in coming months, the school will consider its possible uses for anonymous communication between high school students and administration as well.
- We are working with parents to create a parent DEI education committee with the goal of offering parent education events and launching parent affinity groups for all who are interested.
- To achieve ongoing accountability and promote collaborative community involvement, we are committed to implementing the following measures. Once the parent group is established, we plan to call a council of the leaders of the faculty/admin DEI efforts, the chairs of the board DEI committee, the chairs of the parent DEI education committee, and student leaders of the BIPOC affinity group and the white Anti-Racist affinity group. This council will meet three to four times a year to report out on actions and progress, share resources, and provide assistance to one another. The work of this council will be shared regularly with the entire Waverly community.
- Ismalis Núñez and Christine Saxman joined the teaching team in the spring as we began a new semester of Love and Justice offerings and programming. Ismalis and Christine will work in concentrated units with each grade level over the course of the semester to give students an opportunity to build racial literacy and racial consciousness, tools to engage in conversations about race, and skills to build healthy interracial and intra-racial communities. This series will allow students to see themselves as agents of change within their community. In addition to their work with high school students, Ismalis and Christine will offer several parent workshops and a book group on Zoom during the second semester.
More information to come.