Exploring Lovett

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
One Lovett; One Pride; Lions All. Members of The Lovett School community share in mutually beneficial expectations, practices and commitments to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) which allow us all to thrive. We are a community rooted in love and belonging, and the knowledge that we are, in our unique and individual identities, made in the image of a kind and loving God. 

In the fall of 2019, the Board of Trustees initiated a strategic planning process that allowed us to draw out many voices and perspectives across the community to create more intentionally and consistently a culture of belonging that embodies our core values. We value belonging, in a diverse community where all members- students, alumni, faculty and staff, parents feel connected, included, supported, and respected. 

Our community wholeheartedly believes that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion significantly enhance the outcomes and experiences of and in a Lovett education, independent of their background and or identity. We recognize that striving to be a diverse and inclusive community is an ever-evolving imperative that requires empathy, a growth mindset, and skill.
 
 

Mid-year Update

 
The report shared with The Lovett School community in August 2020 set the strategic foundation for us to reframe our approach to systemic engagement in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion policy and practice. We were challenged to implement concrete initiatives critical to the school’s future in improving outcomes for all Lions in the Pride.

Our commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is forever, and our work is ongoing. In order to hold ourselves accountable, we will share highlights to date (organized by focus area) and will also report our continued efforts here.

List of 4 items.

  • Focus Area: Student Experience


    The Lovett School is committed to:

    • Creating a consistent culture and experience of inclusion and belonging for every student and family spanning the entire range of identities and backgrounds. Ensuring that all students feel heard, affirmed, and respected by employees, peers, and families alike; and where these same students are appreciated and heralded as part of what makes Lovett so special. 
    • Recruiting and retaining more diverse representation in the student and faculty populations as a core component of academic, programmatic, and organizational excellence.
    • Embedding culturally competent practices into the curriculum and co-curricular activities (ie. school assemblies, summer reading lists, field trips, etc.) to establish the expectation that diversity, equity and inclusion are requisite values and skills for the entire Lovett community. 

    Initiative: DEI/ cultural competency training for all faculty and staff

    Progress: The entire faculty and staff gathers together three times a year. We have devoted each of these meetings to ongoing cultural competency training facilitated by Robert Greene, principal consultant and leadership coach with Cedar & Burwell Strategic Consulting. Mr. Greene regularly joins senior leadership team meetings, department and grade-level teams. 

    Initiative: Hire additional Upper School Counselor with specific expertise in managing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

    Progress: Welcomed Dr. Brenda Wall to the Lovett community in December 2020.

    Initiative: Slur Policy (2020-21 Student / Parent Handbook)

    Progress: Student leaders from the class of 2020 drafted a slur policy for consideration. Student Diversity Leadership Council (SDLC) leaders made revisions to this policy in the fall of 2020.

    At The Lovett School, it is imperative that each member of the community, including all students and employees, feels welcomed and accepted. While this handbook explicitly states that discrimination will not be tolerated, this additional policy seeks to reinforce this ideal as well as outline a clear procedure for handling such instances. This policy will ensure that the School provides a support system for members of underrepresented groups and upholds our values of belonging, intellect, purpose, faith and love. 

    Definition of Slur: A slur is a term that targets and degrades members of a group on the basis of their race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, religion, identity, ethnicity, ability, or other identifier. (Please see Appendix I for complete policy and accountability measures.) 

    Reporting Slurs: Usage of a slur or variations of a slur that occurs on campus, off-campus, or on social media, written or spoken, is subject to be reported. 

        • Anonymous Reporting: Students may utilize the anonymous form. One function of this suggestion box is to report instances of discrimination, including the use of slurs. These reports will be reviewed by the deans and school counselors who will confer to decide the process of dealing with the situation. All information will be treated with the highest degree of sensitivity.
        • Informing Deans: students who were directly involved or witnessed the use of a slur and who feel comfortable may make an appointment to discuss the event with their Grade Level Dean directly.
        • Informing teachers, coaches, or school counselors: students who feel uncomfortable reporting directly to the deans may contact other adults whom they trust in the Lovett community. These faculty/staff members are obligated to pass the student’s concerns on to the Grade Level Deans.
        • If a teacher overhears the use of assumed discriminatory language they are obligated to check in with the targeted student before reporting to ascertain the context and avoid any miscommunication. If the student does not wish to report the incident, the teacher ultimately has final discretion as to whether or not it should be reported. All reports will be taken seriously, investigated, and dealt with appropriately. No one should hesitate to bring a complaint for fear of retaliation. Protecting the student who brought the complaint forward will be of utmost importance to those that deal with the incident. Anyone who witnesses the use of discriminatory language is expected, under the Lovett Character Pledge, to use one of the many options for reporting available to them. Being a bystander to discrimination is being an accomplice.

  • Focus Area: Employee and Family Experience

     
    The Lovett School is committed to:

    • Defining a set of essential skills and clear definitions of cultural competency expectations for employees to support inclusion and identify the role that each member of the workforce plays in nurturing and sustaining an inclusive employee culture of belonging.
    • Ensuring that all employees are empowered with the skills to successfully navigate DEI conversations and practices in their classrooms and or departments, and amongst students, peers or families.
    • Developing a full sense of belonging in the Lovett community for families as part of the “Pride of Lions”.
    • Supporting and affirming families in the knowledge that their children will graduate with the knowledge and skills to thrive in a diverse environment.

    Initiative:
    Required cultural competency reading and skill development sessions for all employees, initiated with shared training in The Person You Mean to Be by Dolly Chugh including small-group workshops.


    Progress: September 2020, October 2020 and January 2021. The Lovett Parent Association (LPA) organized a book club to read and discuss The Person You Mean to Be by Dolly Chugh. Book discussion questions included: 
     
        • Which quote or concept from the book was particularly meaningful to you? Why?
        • Was/were there a part/or parts of this book that made you feel uncomfortable? Can you name and identify why it made you feel this way?
        • Consider sharing a time when you were trying to be a “good person” but your actions were not seen in the way you intended it. How did you react to that negative response? How, if at all, did your cultural identity or the identity of the other person impact that response?
        • The book features a number of interviews and stories about individuals. Did any of these impact you? Why
        • In what ways are you a builder versus a believer?
        • What are the headwinds or tailwinds you feel in your professional role at Lovett?
        • Are you more likely to use “heat” or “light” in a challenging situation? How so?
        • Do you think of yourself as a “work in progress”? How do you normally react when you make a mistake?
     
    Initiative: Convene parents of Black students in focus groups to continue discussions on experiences and cultural change.

    Progress: Summer and Fall 2020. 
     
    Initiative: Map and initiate required and sustained DEI training for all employees, especially Senior Administrators.

    Progress: The Senior Leadership Team has initiated routine DEI skill development as part of their quarterly workstream to ensure organizational alignment with and progress toward school-wide DEI goals and initiatives. 

    Expanded organizational capacity with the addition of Chorlana Francis as Lovett’s Director of Human Resources and Talent Management. A highly accomplished leader, Chorlana has an extensive background in Human Resources Management and expertise in both Talent Management and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work. 

    Designed a new organizational framework that promotes Lovett culture and outcomes, owning and celebrating our unique identity. To further that priority, Jessica Sant has been named as Chief Engagement Officer to unite the Alumni, Community Relations, Civic and Global Engagement, and College Counseling Teams with a shared purpose of ensuring equity and belonging for all Lovett stakeholders.
     
    Initiative: Define cultural competency expectations for all employees as core components of growing cultural inclusion and organizational excellence.

    Progress: Defined Cultural Competence at Lovett as “a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that … enable a system, agency, or group of professionals to work effectively in cross-cultural situations” (Cross et al. 1989, p. 13). It refers to the ability to honor and respect the beliefs, languages, interpersonal styles, and behaviors of individuals and families receiving services, as well as staff members who are providing such services. “Cultural competence is a dynamic, ongoing developmental process that requires a long-term commitment and is achieved over time” (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS] 2003a, p. 12).
     
    Initiative: Initiate regular culturally competent leadership development work for all Lovett volunteer leaders.

    Progress: To date, sessions have been completed with: The Lovett Board of Trustees, The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee of the Board, and Lovett Parent Association leadership team. Other parent organization group leaders will be convened in the spring. 
     
    Initiative: Increase awareness of all current parent group goals and membership opportunities.

    Progress: Spearheaded by the Lovett Parent Association leadership team to create a suite of engagement opportunities for new and returning families. Personal outreach was conducted by Jennifer Boutte, Director of Community Relations.

  • Focus Area: Institutional Policy and Practice


    The Lovett School is committed to:
     
    • Implementing a consistent practice of cultural competency and skill development for major stakeholders which includes employees, students, and families.
    • Graduating students with cultural competency as one of their core skill sets to prepare them for participation in a diverse global culture.
    • Shifting cultural understanding about the role of DEI in supporting excellence in outcomes for all Lovett students and families. 

    Initiative: Review the mission statement to ensure that it fully expresses the Lovett commitment to its core values, including those reflecting a diverse and inclusive community.

    Progress: Revised mission statement approved by the Board of Trustees in February. The Lovett School is a community of belonging that develops students of honor, faith, and wisdom with the character and intellect to thrive in learning and life.

    Initiative: Ratify core values for the school that incorporate excellence and belonging as critical components of the Lovett experience.

    Progress: Lovett Core Values approved in the winter of 2020 

    The Lovett School Values:

    Intellect
    as a lifelong pursuit of the cognitive, social, and emotional skills required to thrive in an increasingly complex world.

    Purpose as the source of motivation for learning, the discovery of self, and the foundation of a meaningful life.

    Belonging as a diverse community where all members feel connected, included, supported and respected.

    Faith as the foundation of spiritual and moral values that lead to ethical decision making and perseverance in the face of challenge.

    Love to cultivate joyful learning, strong character, and a compassionate, healthy community.

    Initiative: Audit primary organizational systems, policies and practices around student recruitment and workforce management for equity and performance enhancement.

    Progress: September 2020 and ongoing, reviewed the application for admission and admission processes and practices for equity. Conducted focus groups and surveys for newly enrolled Black families to guide outreach. Engaged in ongoing cultural competency and anti-bias training programs. 

    Initiative: Review expectations and accountability for employees, students and families to exhibit culturally competent behavior.

    Progress: Human Resources audit presently underway.

    Initiative: Examine the definition and communication around the “whole child” identity and leverage this as an essential component of school-wide Diversity, Equity and Inclusion strategy.

    Progress:
     

    Initiative: Audit the website and external communications to improve the School's messaging about the role of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in an excellent Lovett education. 

    Progress: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion page of website refreshed in November 2020. Promoted Diversity, Equity and Inclusion commitments and values alignment through every prospective parent engagement opportunity. 

  • Focus Area: Pedagogy


    The Lovett School is committed to:

    • Defining and operationalizing the “whole child” approach at Lovett.
    • Incorporating a shared pedagogical practice that centers the establishment of inclusive classroom climate and culture.
    • Revising Lovett’s pedagogical and moral/ethical commitment to multicultural curriculum so students emerge with increased critical thinking and research competencies to make sense of an increasingly complex world.
    • Developing a sustainable system and practice so faculty are better trained in cultural competency, culturally responsive teaching, and integrating DEI in the classroom.

    Initiative: Adopt a shared framework for pedagogical practice that centers the establishment of inclusive classroom climates and cultures as the foundation of our pedagogical approach.

    Progress: Middle School faculty were surveyed about culturally relevant teachers so that they can prioritize training and further professional development. Culturally relevant teachers: 

        • Know themselves so they can know and teach their students
        • Use media that positively depict a range of identifiers and cultures (i.e. race, gender, religion, sexual orientation/expression)
        • Experiment with peer teaching (i.e. students teaching other students)
        • Use problem-based scenarios that reference a variety of identifiers and cultures (i.e race, gender, religion, sexual orientation/expression)
        • Use reflection techniques to encourage self-reflection in students
        • Provide students the opportunity to choose their own ideas for projects - from idea to completion
        • Incorporate non-competitive, collaborative assignments

    They were then surveyed to gauge interest in each of these skills and professional growth teams created to begin learning the practice of these skills

    Restorative Practices. Culture change connected to accountability practices directly impacts the student experience. Rather than a system that doles out disciplinary infractions and detentions, building a culture centered on mutual accountability and a deeper understanding of one another must be established. To that end, the Middle School Leadership has taken two courses in Restorative Practices, one with CSEE (Council for Spiritual and Ethical Education) and another with Rufus Lott, III, the primary researcher in this domain. A group of teachers have begun piloting this program. Framing accountability around restorative practices requires a mindset towards relationship building and preventative maintenance of a healthy community. At its core, restorative practices are about the way we take care of one another. 

    For example, when a student is repeatedly acting out in class, teacher and student would have a facilitated conversation designed to deepen their understanding of one another’s perspectives. In such a conversation both student and teacher would have equal “air time” to build bridges in a relationship and to hear, in both directions, what is contributing to the behaviors. 

    Further, when a statement is made by an adult, or by a student, that has intended or unintended harmful impact on an individual or the group, a breach is created in the fabric of a classroom community. To bring genuine reconciliation the group needs facilitated time and space to have a conversation. Several of these conversations have already occurred, allowing students to talk about how they were impacted, always with the goal of moving the relationships forward so that learning can be optimized. Instead of a teacher or coach fussing at a group of students, the students are equal partners in the dialogue. Because of the acknowledged power dynamic that exists between educator and student, intentional practice of these conversations build trust with students and allow issues to be resolved more readily in the course of a day and broaden the perspectives of all to better understand the gaps between intent and impact. These have been especially important when statements about the cultural identity of people are at play.

    Initiative: Define and operationalize the whole child approach to education.
     
    Progress:



    Initiative: Create a universal framework for how to structure learning facilitation at Lovett. Revise Lovett’s pedagogical and moral/ethical commitments to multicultural curriculum, providing all students with appropriate windows and mirrors and increased critical thinking and research competencies essential in an increasingly complex world.

    Progress: At the heart of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work in classrooms sit our relationships. For teachers to engage in productive debate that arises from students and for them to dive deeply into content, they must first build trust in the classroom. The year was launched with clarity about purpose, vision, mission, and outcomes:


    Before diving into curricular content, teachers were asked to build their classrooms one domain at a time, beginning with classroom climate and culture, then examining their pedagogical practices, and finally diving into the content and skills.
     

    A student storytelling panel from a recent leadership retreat comprised of twelve students from both middle and upper school spoke candidly about their experiences at Lovett. It was clear from the ninety minutes they spoke, that relationships with teachers and the tone they set in a classroom had a significant impact on academic achievement and motivation. Training for teachers about how to establish trusting climate and culture has begun and student survey data about how well teachers are doing has been collected. 

    Administrators have been charged with continuing to find venues to embrace student storytelling with the intention of this becoming institutional practice. Learning how to listen so that students feel seen and heard is essential. Deliberate practice in restating what we hear from students instead of jumping to dialectical debate is a starting point. Normalizing the reflective practice of educators to include recognition of the teacher talk to student talk ratio in a classroom, understanding of the role as facilitator of debate instead of a participant in debate, and frequently seeking feedback from students has begun. 
     
 
 
The Lovett School is an independent, coeducational day school where children from Kindergarten through Grade 12 find the courage to explore and the drive to discover.

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