Dear Lovett Community:
We have successfully returned to the Riverbank! Once again Lovett’s classrooms, labs, fields and studios are filled with learners and promise. Faculty are streaming in and out of classrooms, Lower Schoolers are cohorting, and Middle and Upper School students toggle between classroom and home (for the time being) as part of our commitment to keeping our community healthy. I am grateful for the spirit of collaboration and compromise that has gotten us all to this point under the most challenging of conditions.
As promised, I want to share an update on important work the school is undertaking toward our goal of One Lovett, One Pride, where shared, mutually beneficial expectations, practices and commitments allow all our community to thrive. A school community rooted in love and belonging, and the knowledge that we are all, in our unique and individual identities, made in the image of a kind and loving God.
Last fall, the Board of Trustees initiated a strategic planning process that allowed it to draw out many voices and perspectives across the community to create a culture of belonging that embodies our core values for all Lions. Though this spring and summer heightened national awareness of the emotional urgency of DEI work, the strategic commitment did not begin after the murder of George Floyd and local and national protests against anti-Blackness and systemic racism.
This spring and summer, we have taken a conscious focus to ensure that all Black students and families at Lovett feel supported and can thrive. Where many Black students have succeeded, too many have not enjoyed a full and rich experience at school. That is a past failure but will not be our future reality. Reflecting the words of the committee:
“The visible and poignant question of Black lives matter(ing) in American culture and systems, galvanized our resolve to be better in our future than we have been in our past."
As committee co-chairs Brian Boutté and Malon Courts shared in a letter to myself and Board Chair John O. Knox:
“This is not about trying to blame or broad brush all White students and or families as a problem; yet while many Black families have (historically) reported wonderful experiences at Lovett, too many have not always felt fully affirmed or mission-included. This perspective reflects similar stories we have heard from around the region and country, whether in independent schools or other large organizations and cultural systems.”
The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee of our Board has submitted a report outlining institutional objectives and expectations. The committee’s work is broken down into four key areas of focus: Student Experience, Family and Employee Experience, Institutional Policy & Practice, and Pedagogy. Each of the four subcommittees has further organized recommended strategies in a 30, 90, and 180+ day timeline. These four workstreams laid out in the committee’s recommendations touch all the corners of our organization like no other four could. I've taken these recommendations and distilled these workflows into strategic commitments of the highest importance to our work.
Lovett and our educational process are based in relationship. Eva Lovett established nearly 100 years ago the importance of teachers knowing who they are teaching and the priority Lovett places on that. I translate this to teaching through being known and how it plays through the complex social environment in which students, teachers, and parents interact. It is our job to address the social awkwardness that stems from our failure to fully understand each other, particularly when there are differences in identity, background, and perspective.
This work in Organizational Development and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion integration is for ALL. We are creating a strategic foundation and approach that will significantly enhance the outcomes and experience of and in a Lovett education for EVERY student, independent of their background and or identity.
This is a journey that will require years of investment, focus, and hard work. Our success will be measured in years and not months. And where we can make immediate and impactful differences we will not hesitate to do so. Frederick Douglass famously said, "If there is no struggle, there is no progress." It is through struggle and breaking down that comes rebirth, growth, evolution.
This is a season of growth for Lovett, one we are leaning into with determination as we work to address our own challenges regarding equity and inclusion, innovative 21st-century curriculum and programming, and community building that affirms, nurtures, and sustains all Lions, across the diversity of identities and backgrounds who are here and will continue to come. Please join me in sincerely thanking the members of the Board’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee for their devotion to this work over the summer and moving forward.
Head of School