A DEI Advisory Group comprised of representatives from all constituencies - students, faculty, parents, trustees, and alumnae - is formed to support an authentically diverse populace at Chatham Hall and move us to become an actively anti-racist institution. Update: The Advisory Group has been formed in addition to an internal working group, the DEI Task Force, comprised of faculty and staff, to further implement our action plan. The fall issue of the Chat shares the key DEI groups that have been created to help Chatham Hall in its work. Recent examples of Task Force work include increased sharing and evaluation of lesson plans and the curation and DEI digital resources for use both inside and outside the classroom. The Advisory Group has been briefed on current and new DEI work at Chatham Hall. They are being consulted on action plan goals such as asking for help building Chatham Hall relationships with HBCUs and BIPOC professional organizations.
Developing and introducing early and ongoing student education (starting with opening of school) related to our aspirations and commitment to be an inclusive, identity-safe school community and the behaviors that are and are not compatible with this, including explanations of what constitutes hate speech, harassment, bullying, and cyberbullying. Update: The use of hate speech and offensive language and actions were reviewed by the Rector with returning and new students as unacceptable behaviors and a violation of the Purple and Golden Rule of Chatham Hall at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year. This was spurred in response to stories shared through Chatham Hall’s DEI climate assessment as well as Instagram postings, and specific examples from these sources were and are utilized to underscore the reality that has existed for some in our community. Chatham Hall student organizations and affinity groups play an ongoing role in educating their peers and the full community on best practices of DEI through activities, announcements, Chapel services and much more all of which expand inclusive literacy in our community.
Crafting and distributing clearer guidelines for appropriate student and adult language and conduct in order to ensure an anti-racist community. Update: Our hate speech and intention and offensive language policy has been developed under the leadership of Student Life and in partnership with Honor Council and Prefects, and is now part of the Community Handbook. Similarly, the Employee Handbook contains clear language associated with the employee expectations on our policy prohibiting discrimination and harrassment.
Clarifying and abiding by the consequences for violating these guidelines so that students and employees are consistently held accountable to our community standards, while allowing room for learning and growth i.e. restorative justice after a mistake/violation. Update: Honor Council follows student guidelines as found in the Community Handbook for Honor Council cases for the school year as required. The Employee Handbook shares a process for reporting and investigation of claims of discrimination and harrassment. The rector, dean of academics, and chief financial officer engage in difficult conversations as needed with employees when there is a breach in employee guidelines making it clear racist, bigoted, and offensive language is not tolerated at Chatham Hall.
Developing and communicating a reporting mechanism for incidents of bias in the Chatham Hall community. Update: As noted above, clear reporting guidelines reporting have been developed, distributed, and implemented for the benefit of full understanding by all community stakeholders. These guidelines are located in the Community Handbook and Employee Handbook.
Expanding our student leadership development program with a focus on community-building and respecting each Chatham Hall student and what they bring to our school. Update: Honor Council Members worked with the dean of academics, dean of students, and director of diversity, equity, and inclusion to create and facilitate LINK group talks to educate the community about stereotypes and microaggressions. Student leaders in affinity groups have helped organize Chapel services highlighting diverse cultural themes such as Hispanic, Native American, Black, and Women’s History, LGBTQIA+ themes, MLK Day and Lunar New Year celebrations, and more. A comprehensive leadership development program is in the germination stages at Chatham Hall under the shared oversight of our Chaplain and Dean of Students.
Continuing the DEI awareness education program initiated in 2019-2020 through our required programming such as chapel, speakers, class meetings, and all-community events, focusing on the variety of cultures/experiences we are fortunate to have at Chatham Hall. Update: DEI awareness education in the 2020-2021 academic year focuses on the personification of experience for our students for whom full inclusion has remained unattainable; events which speak to the unique nature of their expectations and who they are as young people. Examples include Chapel services highlighting diverse cultural themes such as Hispanic, Native American, Black, and Women’s History, LGBTQIA+ themes, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Lunar New Year celebrations, and more. Student-led programming has included open mic nights, slam poetry sessions, and an interfaith panel. LINK group and The Social Institute conversations in advisory. Advisory have also endeavored to catalyse reflective conversations designed to increase self-awareness, cross-cultural communication, critical thinking skills, and solution-building.
Initiating a review of our traditions and considering if they are still the most empowering for a diverse community in the 21st century or if they need refinement. Update: Implementation of annual traditions in the 2020-2021 school year was forced to look different due to COVID-19 protocols and constraints. Chatham Hall was able to look at some of the start of year traditions with seniors with relevant Chatham Hall class sponsors. A more thorough review will occur in the 2021-2022 school year when we anticipate fewer COVID restrictions and a return to a full, on campus School life.
Expanding understanding and support of affinity groups around identities such as race and LGBTQ+, and assisting these groups in celebrating their communities through educational programming and other activities. Update: As noted above in DEI education awareness programming, affinity organizations and their members along with DEI student ambassadors and allies led (and are leading) a host of community programs and activities resulting in insightful discussions in Advisory, Chapel, and Assembly. In order to ensure adult community members heard from students, leaders of Spectrum and our Black Student Union spoke with the Board of Trustees, and members of Spectrum spoke with the full faculty at a fall 2020 professional development session. DEI student ambassadors who participated in the NAIS Student Leadership Development Conference will address faculty before the end of the school year.
Creating policies to better support gender non-conforming or transgender students. Update: Students communicate their preferred pronouns to teachers when chosen pronouns differ from those indicated on admission/enrollment materials and other official documents. College Counseling ensures that, as students apply to colleges and move on, desired pronouns are used in communications. Faculty have participated in professional development around this issue with a variety of experts. With the guidance of LGBTQ+ support organizations such as Gender Spectrum, Chatham Hall is crafting a Gender Support Plan and Gender Communication Plan following best practices in supporting young people that may be pursuing a gender identity journey during their high school years.
Supporting our international students and their parents with appropriate programming and tracking that support through regular meetings and surveys. Update: Our International Student Coordinators have been holding regular check-ins with our international students this year. Of course, the number of international students we had on campus was much smaller due to COVID. To the extent possible, parent meetings were held at times when international families could participate at the start or end of their day. More support for these students and their families is a high priority for the DEI action plan in the 2021-2022 school year when we look forward to having these valued community members on campus.
Conveying to students clearly and sensitively how to access mental health support, along with a mechanism for student feedback and Communicating guidelines for our Student Counseling Office so students, parents, and staff understand protocols, roles and responsibilities related to issues such as confidentiality of student disclosures and parental rights. Update: The Community Handbook now includes information on the role of the School counselor, accessing the counselor’s services, topics of privacy regarding counseling, potential follow up or complementary support, and means of providing feedback. Chatham Hall is also making sure that dorm advisors and student advisors are well versed in our counseling services so that students can be appropriately directed and supported.
Creating and conducting two parent workshops/conversations per year associated with a topic of inclusion (such as race, adolescent mental health, socioeconomics, international perspectives, etc.). Update: Chatham Hall began the year with a virtual parent conversation with Lisa D’Amour author of Under Pressure related to adolescent mental health, especially in the time of COVID-19. April will bring a workshop with our partner Laura Tierney of The Social Institute. Laura will share a refreshing, practical, and eye-opening presentation about parenting in the digital age. The presentation will touch on new data, pandemic-related concerns, and insights shared by students and researchers across the country.
Writing a larger five-year plan regarding specific goals for diversity, equity, and inclusion practices. Update: Chatham Hall is in the midst of creating the action plan for next year and beyond incorporating lessons learned from 2020-2021 as well as feedback from internal and external DEI volunteers, students and faculty/staff.
Committing to the recruitment, hiring and retention of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) faculty and administrators over the next five years. Update: Chatham Hall is now a member of NEMNET, a national minority recruiting organization which specializes in the placement of professionals of color in educational institutions. Several members of the administration attended professional development seminars related to recruitment and retention of people of color. With the hiring season just beginning Chatham Hall is working with NEMNET and our other recruiting partners to identify BIPOC teaching/staffing candidates based on open positions for the 2021-2022 academic year.
Establishing relationships and working with regional Historically Black Colleges and Universities and professional organizations dedicated to supporting educators of color in hiring processes. Update: The academic office sent letters of introduction to regional Historically Black Colleges and Universities within a three hour radius to Chatham Hall to establish contact before hiring season for 2021-2022. All job openings are being shared with these institutions’ career centers for this season with the hope that we can develop relationships when travel is safe again.
Building and maintaining a list of BIPOC candidates and diversity allies over time, and returning to that list for consideration of candidates and/or networking for future openings. Update: This is beginning this year and will be expanded upon in the 2021-2022 hiring season and built continuously over time.
Conducting exit interviews with faculty members leaving Chatham Hall regarding their experiences with the school’s culture. Update: An exit interview is always conducted with departing employees to understand the reasons for leaving and if they faced challenges in their roles with the school. In addition there is an opportunity to share any additional information that they would like related to their time at the school including School culture surrounding inclusion.
Expanding the current required professional training in diversity and inclusion for all administration, faculty, and staff to include bi-annual in-service training, and regular education sessions at faculty meetings that examine specific inclusion issues, anti-bias training, and anti-racist training such that all faculty are equipped - and expected - to address incidents involving such behavior. Update: In the 2020-2021 academic year thus far, the full faculty has attended sessions on implicit bias awareness training (second round) with Trina Gary, reflected on the emotional pressures on today’s teens with Lisa Damour, explored the history of race in America with Ayo Magwood, and learned more about issues related to sexuality, sexual orientation, and gender identity with Spectrum, Bill Ivey, and Jennifer Bryan of Re-set School. The dean of academics and director of diversity, equity, and inclusion have also developed nine aspects of diversity - age, ability status, religion, gender, socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, global citizenry, and mental health - to be seamlessly woven into the curriculum and intended to answer the question “do I see myself in the coursework?”. This goal will remain in future DEI action plans as Chatham Hall is committed to continuing training in the years ahead.
Annual DEI education and training for Chatham Hall trustees as well as an expansion of new trustee orientation to focus on the school’s DEI commitment. Update: In the 2020-2021 academic year thus far, Trustees participated in education sessions from Bill Ivey of Stoneleigh Burnham School and Jennifer Bryan of Team Finch Consultants on issues related to sexuality, sexual orientation, and gender identity, implicit bias awareness training from Trina Gary, and heard from current student leaders of Spectrum and the Black Student Union.
Conducting the second part of training around implicit bias and adult sensitivity/conduct before school starts. (The first part of the training was conducted by our DEI consultant Trina Gary last August; part two had been anticipated this spring but was postponed due to the pandemic). Update: Complete. See first bullet under Professional Development above.
Expanding faculty/staff and student participation opportunities in the annual NAIS People of Color Conference (POCC). Update: Four faculty and staff members (also and intentionally members of the DEI Task Force) attended this year’s NAIS POCC and six students concurrently attended the NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC). The virtual nature of the conference this year permitted more participation from Chatham Hall and all schools.
Crafting and executing a multi-year DEI summer professional development schedule for administrators, dorm advisors, and department chairs. Update: Drawing on a range of DEI resources such as webinars, readings, virtual and in-person conferences etc. Chatham Hall will provide summer professional development for these key community members depending on their DEI literacy and specific roles.
Devising a new orientation and mentoring program for first year faculty that includes a diversity and inclusion component. Update: Trina Gary provided the initial round of implicit bias awareness training to new faculty at the start of the 2020-2021 academic year. In January, the full faculty engaged in professional development discussing racial and cultural identity. Dean of Students Marin Miller and Dean of Academics Martha Griswold are in the process of partnering with Director of DEI Deborah Glymph to create a first year faculty program that is relevant and supportive for these new community members.
Establishing and tracking expectations that faculty apply DEI training and practices, from representation in curriculum to the ability to have difficult DEI conversations with students and colleagues. Update: Using the “Culturally Responsive Scorecard” from New York University as a starting point, faculty will be able to track where the curriculum is meeting expectations of inclusivity and where it is falling short so that teachers will be able to look to include aspects of DEI that are missing. We will also use this as a guide as we not only elevate the curriculum from a DEI perspective, but seek to ensure that conversations are happening in classes (and outside of the classroom) that help to create a normalcy around questions pertinent to inclusivity and making all students and faculty feel part of, rather than something that is added on.
Providing ongoing education for all faculty and staff, with additional training for advisors, dorm advisors, and counselors, around adolescent mental health. Update: Lisa Damour, author of mandatory faculty summer reading Under Pressure, led a faculty and staff workshop as part of the opening of school professional development. She provided timely advice to assist adults in supporting students on their health and wellness journeys - especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chatham Hall’s Director of Counseling Jenneil Gross-Krieverled a workshop on teenage trauma helping faculty understand that trauma does not evaporate once students sit at a desk and some of the signals to look for and support to provide students in distress.
A girls' boarding and day school in southern Virginia, Chatham Hall prepares girls for college and for productive lives. Our innovative academic program offers advanced courses, global study and travel, as well as project-based learning. We foster the intellect and character of each student and, through our Honor Code, live in a community of trust. Grounded in its Episcopal heritage, the school welcomes students of all faiths and backgrounds.