As we celebrate the diversity that is such a wonderful strength of SAS, we know how important it is that we equally focus on ensuring that our community is inclusive for all our diverse students. One of our biggest hopes is that all students feel a strong sense of belonging within our community. This sense of belonging is powerful and often has a significant impact on students’ academic success and social-emotional health.
One way we help nurture this welcoming environment is to help faculty, staff, and students learn more about the people around them. In August, I shared a letter with you outlining some of the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work we are engaged in as a school. As the semester now draws to a close, I want to share some of the work we have accomplished and what we’re looking forward to next semester.
Our faculty DEI planning team meets monthly to plan professional learning and supports for fellow teachers. We took time on each of our teacher in-service days this fall to focus on DEI, providing spaces for reflection, building foundational knowledge and understanding, and helping teachers learn how to teach on issues of prejudice and cross-cultural understanding in ways appropriate for the developmental stages of their students.
A great example of this is time we spent during the teacher planning day last month. In order to tap into the ideas and expertise of both our own faculty and the broader community, we shared a request for proposals around DEI topics with the SAS community. The intent was to curate a diverse array of options for educators to select from. Faculty, staff, students, and external experts all submitted proposals which led to 30 different sessions being made available to our educators.
Both the quantity and quality of the sessions was inspiring—with everything from how to provide for more diverse voices in our curriculum (with sessions both in English and Chinese) to experiences of the local Singaporean LGBTQ+ community to how we think about disabilities to a discussion around Asian American identities. I had the opportunity to listen to panels that featured SAS students from the Black Student Union and the PRISM/SAGA (LGBTQ+) clubs, sharing their experiences at SAS and lesson ideas for our teachers. They were deeply powerful and impactful sessions and helped generate many further conversations.
We look forward to continuing these learning opportunities in the spring semester.
As we look ahead to next semester, the school board has committed to creating a DEI statement to set a schoolwide direction on DEI. That process will take place during the beginning of January and will involve board members, DEI planning team members, students, parents, and alumni.
I also continue to be heartened by the thoughtfulness with which our teachers are teaching and challenging our students to think deeply around a wide variety of issues around race, prejudice and income inequality in their classrooms. I have seen many of these lessons taking place and heard from many students about how much they have appreciated these learning opportunities.
Thanks again and look forward to keeping you up to date on our work here as the year progresses.