Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

 

To broaden and extend efforts related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), Suffield Academy is pursuing several initiatives aimed at enhancing our vibrant community of scholars and global citizens. These include curriculum review, new course offerings, continued professional development related to race and systemic racism, and extensive campus programming. These are aimed at helping ensure that the educational and campus life experiences at Suffield are designed to promote a healthy, warm campus climate and a community based on mutual respect, generosity, kindness, and genuine concern for others. In the wake of George Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020, Suffield Academy turned a lens toward itself to focus on ways to further oppose systemic racism, strengthen the unity of its community, and establish ongoing systems for recognizing DEI on campus.


Prior to the summer’s civil unrest, Ta-Nehesi Coates’ Between the World and Me was assigned to all students and faculty as a community-read text. Substantive curriculum changes include the addition of new English and history course offerings: Black Lives Matter, Current Black Voices, and Good Trouble: Black Agency Since 1865. In 2021 African Studies will be added as part of the required junior-year Area Studies curriculum. Liz Warren, who helps spearhead DEI efforts on campus as Cultural Diversity Director, joined the Academic Committee and met with academic departments to discuss and reflect on issues of race in the classroom and curriculum.

The performing arts department performed Clybourne Park as their fall 2020 stage production. The school’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council was established to engage difficult discussions between advisors and advisees regarding race and systematic racism along with regular participation in Wednesday afternoon rallies for racial justice on the town green. Faculty were gifted a copy of Debby Irving’s book Waking up White while committing to year-long break-out discussions called Courageous Conversations, a safe forum for challenging talks regarding DEI. Renowned American activist and speaker and writer on the topic of race Tim Wise spoke to the faculty on August 31 and author Debby Irving addressed the faculty during a meeting held on October 29. Faculty members Beth Krasemann P’19, ’21 and Ann Selvitelli P’20, ’22 now lead the newly founded AWARE [Alliances of White Anti-Racist Educators] with plans on sending two additional faculty to SEED [Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity] next summer.

Suffield’s commitment to ongoing learning, social justice and equity, and opposing systematic racism are reflected in many areas of school life, from faculty and student programs, curriculum evolution, campus affinity groups, and student and faculty recruitment efforts. These are all tied to continual learning and commitment to Suffield’s mission. The passion for improving our institution—for creating lasting structural and curriculum change—is evident among the Board, the school’s leadership, faculty, staff, students, and alumni. At Suffield, we are in this together.

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