Equity and Inclusion
With a campus as diverse as Maret’s, issues of equity and inclusion are of paramount importance. These issues are celebrated through numerous school initiatives that foster ongoing dialogue and self-reflection essential to a healthy campus.
Deepening the Discussion about Race
At the beginning of each school year, new faculty participate in the Deepening the Discussion About Race workshop designed to develop a greater awareness of how race shapes their leadership at Maret. They examine the history and context of race and racism in our country, our city, and on our campus. Together, faculty develops a common language, a shared framework, and a set of tools to benefit their students. At Maret, 100% of our teachers have completed the workshop.
During the week participants develop a greater awareness of how race shapes their leadership at Maret as well as an understanding of the history and context around race and racism in our country, in Washington, and at Maret. Participants examine definitions of racism, oppression, and white privilege and explore how this is ingrained at Maret. Together, faculty develops common language, a shared framework, and set of tools that will positively impact their students.
"We asked ourselves how can we rethink the School, its assumptions, and the important experiences lived by the most important part of our jobs: the students."
"It was the first time that I've been to a conference where everyone in the room, except for two of the facilitators, were colleagues; that had a very intense effect on the week, but a promising one. I realized this work about race is part head and part heart, and without both you're not completing the picture."
"I always assumed and feared [that] white people would dismiss my concerns as me being too “sensitive”. I was surprised, elated, and moved to know that my white colleague and I could have this conversation and it wouldn’t end with me in tears."
"It’s one thing to pay lip service to the idea of being an inclusive and equitable community. It's another to be in a room with people for eight hours daily for five days with people from different backgrounds working towards that end. It's empowering.
It’s scary. It’s emotionally exhausting. It’s a great way to start having thought-provoking, tough conversations about race, difference, what we want for ourselves professionally, personally, and for our students."
- Diversity at Maret
- National Coming Out Day
- Queer-Straight Alliance
- Human Development
- Middle School Affinity Groups
- Lower School Curriculum
Upper School DAM promotes diversity awareness, focusing on the identifiers of race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, ability, gender, socioeconomic status, and age. DAM provides an arena for open discussion and includes the School community in numerous activities to ensure that every voice is heard and every difference celebrated.
In the fall, Maret honors National Coming Out Day by celebrating the LGBTQIA members of our community (students, faculty, parents, alumni). The day often includes chalking the sidewalks around campus with names of famous LGBTQIA people, an assembly in which we invite members of our own community to share their stories, and a photo exhibit for members of our community to share their personal connections to the LGBT community.
The Queer-Straight Alliance (QSA) is a student-run club whose purpose is to build alliances between students who fall along a variety of positions on the sexual- and gender- spectrums. Our mission is to help create a well-informed, welcoming, and empowered student body. We raise awareness of current social issues, encourage cross-difference dialogue, and provide leadership for shool-sponsored events, such as National Coming Out Day and Day of Silence.
Fifth graders cultivate self-awareness as they prepare for changes that occur as they grow and develop. They discuss emotions, self-esteem, teasing, and bullying. They also explore the physical, emotional, and social changes that accompany puberty as they learn about the reproductive systems and its functions.
Continuing to stress the importance of self- awareness, the sixth grade human development program emphasizes friendships, peer dilemmas, peer pressure, and decision-making. Students role-play and discuss bullying and cyber-bullying. Learning to recognize feelings and their influence on behavior are important aspects of the class. Discussions of pregnancy and birth expand upon fifth grade lessons. The PBS film Everything You Wanted to Know about Sex but Were Afraid to Ask is a focal point for discussion.
In this course, divided by gender, class discussions focus on the effects of emotional and physical changes that are occurring in the lives of adolescents and the ways in which we address and cope with those changes. Classes explore sexual growth and development and relationships with parents and friends in detail. Other topics may include stereotypes, body image, substance abuse, media messages, and the importance of developing clear communication skills. Students learn how to make decisions that demonstrate a respect for themselves and others and take into account the possible consequence of their actions.
Eighth Graders begin human development with a study of values, emphasizing that the worth and dignity of all individuals should be recognized and respected. The course explores the more sophisticated themes associated with human growth and development. Small and large group projects, class assignments, and videos are used to discuss sexually transmitted infections, substance abuse, relationships, decision making, sexual orientation, gender-based expectations, stereotypes, and digital citizenship. This class helps eighth graders transition to ninth grade.
Human Sexuality Seminar
Required of all tenth graders, this semester-long class meets weekly to explore the personal, relational, and societal components of sexuality. Discussions and activities help students acquire knowledge, develop self-awareness, and cultivate the skills necessary for personal, relational, and sexual health. This course covers the characteristics of healthy and unhealthy relationships, sexual harassment, body image, gender identity/roles, sexual orientation, and sexual health and reproduction, sexuality and the media.
Initiated by students, middle schoolers volunteer to join affinity groups based on personal racial identity. The groups meet during lunch to discuss issues and concerns that are specific to that group--both issues from the larger community, and issues students feel are important to their experiences at Maret. Students benefit from these affinity groups by having a safe place to share, connect, and collaborate with peers of a shared racial identity.
Through literature, social studies, music, and guided classroom discussions, Lower School students explore their thoughts about diversity, respectfully hear other perspectives, and work through differences to achieve a firm sense of community. Many students gather to learn about foods, games, holiday traditions, dances, and other cultural pastimes in the popular Culture Club.
Beyond the Classroom
- NAIS People of Color Conference and the Student Diversity Leadership Conference
- Horizons Greater Washington
- Meet, Eat, and Greet
- Davies Scholars and DEEP
- Mixed Forum
Each year, Maret faculty and students attended this conference, which works to effect change in schools and in the world, while promoting self-discovery and personal enrichment. The conference’s small affinity groups provide a safe place to reflect and discuss issues of race and identity, as well as networking opportunities to connect with fellow students and educators. Maret faculty attends workshops focused on curriculum, leadership, and building inclusive communities, led by expert practitioners at independent schools nationwide.
Maret is proud to have piloted the now multi-school Horizons program. Started more than a decade ago, Horizons' six-week summer enrichment program and school year Saturdays help a diverse group of K-8 children from low-income families to develop a lifelong interest in learning, advance academic gains over the summer, and improve achievement in school.
Davies Scholars are selected from a pool of talented new students in grades 9 and 10 and receive a thorough orientation of all aspects of our upper school.
The Davies Exposure and Enrichment Program (DEEP) introduces incoming 9th grade students to the study skills and habits needed to excel in Maret’s challenging, college-preparatory program. Students work with Maret faculty in small group settings, reviewing concepts in humanities, mathematics, and science. They learn strategies in critical thinking, self-advocacy, and technology to prepare for the coming school year.
Co-sponsored by Diversity at Maret students and the Maret Parents Association Diversity Committee, the Mixed Forum generates discussion among Upper School students, parents, and faculty from all division on compelling topics, for example:
- The film Race to Nowhere by Vicki Abeles
- Let’s Talk Family Diversity At Maret: Creating a Welcoming School Community for Families with Gay and Lesbian Parents
- The Sexualization of Society: Pushing Boundaries or Crossing the Line
- Equality for All? Reality or Dream? Looking Critically at the Issues of Race and Sexual Orientation in America
- Free Speech vs. The Language Police: A Town Meeting on Political Correctness in American Society
- Rebuilding New Orleans
Committee on Equity and Inclusion
- 2017-2018 Members
- 2017-2018 Goals
- Ongoing Programs
- 2016-2017 Initiatives
- 2015-2016 Initiatives
- to have a forum in which equity issues in the community (i.e., parents, faculty, and students) are processed,
- to plan for equity and inclusion programming in each division,
- to ensure substantive professional development related to equity and inclusion for Maret faculty,
- to provide programming for our parents on equity and inclusion,
- to support forums for open and sustained dialogue on equity and inclusion in the Maret community,
- to chart a future course for the School, based on the Task Force on Equity and Inclusion’s 2015 recommendations, regarding equity and inclusion programming and initiatives.
- Marjo Talbott, Head of School, Co-Chair
- Courtney Fenner, Third Grade Homeroom Teacher, Co-Chair
- Eliza Alexander, Director of Community Engagement & Partnerships
- Susan Epps, Assistant Head
- Jua Fluellen, Middle School Science Teacher
- Geetha Ingram, Lower School Science Teacher
- Nick Michalopoulos, Chair of Humanities Department
- Patrick Scott, Director of Middle School Admissions & Social Media
- Njeri Semaj, World Languages Teacher
- Steven Tejada, Director of Upper School
Over the past few years, there have been many prongs that have continued to build our “collective muscles” in doing this important work on Equity and Inclusion. The coming year is a year of transition at Maret with many new “players.” We want to build on the foundation and shared understandings from Deepening the Discussion about Race, Deepening Reconvenes, and the Lower School Identity Curriculum. During the 2017-2018 school year, we will focus on new classroom-based work to strengthen equitable and inclusive teaching practice. We will also gather data and define our objectives moving forward in this work.
Our ongoing work should complement the set of recommendations from the Board’s Equity Task Force Report (2015) and the new Strategic Directions document (to be voted by the Board by September, 2017). We want to ensure that there is good coordination going forward, especially with the shifting of players. CEI will take the lead in this oversight with Department Chairs/Division Directors team (D2). There will be a number of different but connected initiatives:
- Those just hired will attend a 3-day version of Deepening prior to starting in August.
- The new Equity Learning Groups (ELG) will incorporate the ideas of the Reconvenes; they will meet 4 times during the year to build trust and work on our practices especially in the classrooms. We will still have a series, Professional Learning Circles, that could meet on 3 consecutive Wednesdays that tackle specific issues (design thinking or spelling in the LS).
- The Equity and Excellent Teaching Document will determine a set of equity and excellence principles in the classroom – and will inform some of the conversations for the ELG and Classroom Observations
- This summer, CEI members Jua Fluellen, Maria Lopez, Courtney Cothran-Fenner, and Jaime Estrada will attend the 3-day conference, the Equity Design Lab, featuring Zaretta Hammond; we hope that she will also come to Maret later in the year for a 1½ days of training of the D2, CEI, and others.
- The Classroom Observation Team worked on a process that promotes classroom observation, including peer to peer and other forms.
- Have some Powerful Speakers (and a Community Read) that furthers all of our work on Diversity – bring in periodically the Glossary of Diversity Terms with the Deepening Protocols
- Data Collection: Statistics teacher Eric Heilman will work with Department Chairs to define areas of research related to equity and inclusion and share findings back to the CEI and Department Chairs to help identify and refine equity and inclusion goals.
Note: One other change is that there will no longer be a sub-committee of the MPA called the MPAD; rather there will be a member of the Maret Parent Association Executive Committee who will be MPA Equity and Inclusion Liaison who will work with Susan Epps on parent programs and initiatives.
Many programs are now integral to Maret school life:
- Committee on Equity & Inclusion (monthly)
- Admission Outreach (throughout the year)
- Faculty of Color Recruitment (second semester)
- Deepening Discussion About Race (summer 2016 and ongoing discussions throughout the year)
- Davies Scholars (US) (admission season)
- Davies Exposure and Enrichment Program (summer, advising throughout the year)
- Faculty Meeting Focus on Equity and Inclusion (numerous times a year)
- Speaker Series for Parents, Students, and Faculty (2or 3 times a year)
- Upper School Building Connections (August)
- Meet, Eat, & Greet for Parents/Guardians with Students of Color (September)
- Other Maret Parents Association Diversity Committee Events (Spring)
- Coming Out Day, Middle and Upper Schools (October)
- Day of Silence, Middle and Upper Schools (April)
- Blood Drive & Petition (April)
- Culture Club, Lower School (monthly)
- Faculty Affinity Groups (periodic)
- WARA (White Anti-Racist Allies)
- African Diaspora Affinity
- Faculty of Color Affinity
- Gay Straight Alliance
- Asian Affinity
- Affinity Groups – Student Periodic
- Black Student Union
- Asian Affinity
- LGBTQ Affinity
- Parent Coffees across difference
- Diversity at Maret Student Group (weekly)
- Queer-Straight Alliance (weekly)
- Day of Dialogue (annual)
- Mixed Forum (annually)
- LGBT Family Gathering
- POCC and SDLC (December)
- Achievement Gap Review
- Exit Interviews with African American students (May)
- Hispanic Heritage Month (September)
- Review of Action Plan
- Quantitative and Qualitative Review
- By the end of August, 2016, basically all of Maret teaching and non-teaching faculty completed Deepening Discussion about Race.
- CEI created and presented Glossary of Diversity Terms.
- The Lower School rolled out the new Identity Curriculum.
- Department Chairs expanded evaluation process which includes clear objectives that incorporate equity and inclusion as part of everyone’s annual review process.
- Debbie Irving, the author of Waking Up White, presented, and the faculty who “wake up white” returned to her messages separately.
- Faculty workshop was created around Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book, Between the World and Me.
- Rosetta Lee, a nationally respected diversity trainer, returned to Maret to discuss the gender identity spectrum.
- A number of teachers orchestrated other faculty meetings on ways to create more equitable and inclusive learning environments.
- Reconvenes of all previous Deepening Discussion about Race cohorts were conducted.
- World Languages Department Chair worked with a group to create Equity and Excellence objectives for teaching.
- Began to implement the Equity Task Force’s plan, joining CSBGL and Penn to do more quantitative and qualitative research. Eric Heilman’s (US Mathematics Teachers) advanced Statistics students conducted research and presented their findings of Maret students’ experiences of race and gender. The research findings were reported in an impressive set of presentations to students and faculty in the Spring.
- Created a two hour “Deepening” experience with our Board of Trustees.
- The Board changed the Bylaws to rename the Education Committee to the Education & Equity Committee.
Continued to hold Deepening Reconvenes and ensured that all the rest of the Faculty attend Deepening during the Summer of 2016.
- Ongoing training and outside speakers: Rosetta Lee in December, Ta’Nehisi Coates in March; the Race Card Project in April
- Given the national dialogue, faculty, students and parents developed an upper school assembly about Islamaphobia and the Muslim experience at Maret.
- Worked on our Glossary of Equity and Inclusion Terms and began to plan the Fall faculty meetings.
Lower School worked on a more comprehensive Identity Curriculum through the June ICIE.
- Determined that all faculty would read Between the World and Me by Mr. Coates this summer.
- 38% of the faculty self-identify as people of color
- 24% of enrolled families receive financial aid
- Maret families hail from 50 different nations
- 62% of our students reside in DC, 30% in Maryland, and 8% in Virginia
- 44% of our students self-identify as people of color
- 13 Maret families identify as LGBT