Equity and Belonging
Why Equity and Belonging?
Equity is not the same as equality. Many often conflate the two terms even though they have different meanings. Equality necessitates that everyone get the exact same thing. The challenge with equality is that all of our community members are different and, as a result, have different needs. Equity provides people what they need in order to be successful. More importantly, equity requires communication because the institution has to find out the person’s needs and then meet them.
Inclusion prioritizes presence, whereas belonging prioritizes mattering. In other words, one’s presence matters. The School intentionally creates an environment that sees, hears, and values all of its community members. We do that in a variety of ways from saying names correctly to evaluating our curriculum to make sure that marginalized voices are present and heard.
At Collegiate, we strive to build and sustain an equitable environment, in which all community members feel a deep sense of belonging - being seen, heard, and valued. We honor that responsibility and, with community, we co-create a culture that supports and promotes our equity and belonging initiatives.
In addition to the affinity groups, Collegiate’s Office of Equity and Belonging provides programming and learning opportunities for the community to build meaningful relationships. Below is a list of some of the ways that we aim to support these connections:
Ongoing faculty and staff professional development opportunities, led by internal DEB practitioners and external consultants
Assembly periods through K-12 experience, featuring speakers who explore identities, histories, and cultures
Monthly newsletter to keep all community members informed about our continued work
Workshops and training sessions for adult community members, including our families, alumni, and board members
Collegiate advocates and supports affinity spaces for our community members, including our students and adults. An affinity group is when people with common identities and experiences come together to support each other. Affinity spaces provide encouragement and affirmation for those who can speak from the "I" perspective, promoting healthy identity development as well as community building.
At Collegiate, we value relationships—the ones we have with our students and the ones we have with each other as colleagues. To help facilitate a sense of belonging among the faculty and staff, we have affinity groups that are designed to reaffirm and explore aspects of identities. These spaces provide encouragement, affirmation, and support for those who can speak from the "I" perspective. Our affinity groups currently include:
In my classroom I prioritize responsive teaching. I make time in our schedule for important conversations which address issues in our room and beyond. I work to provide my students with tools to navigate difficult topics with empathy and an enriched understanding. The goal of this work is to create a safe space for students to feel heard, supported, and better equipped to engage in challenging work.
Fiona Evans, Third Grade Teacher
Every section of my MS Drama includes DEB values, from the POC and women playwrights we examine and uplift in grade 8, to the Art as Activism unit where we explore themes of oppression, injustice and activism found in all forms of art. When we look at Commedia dell'arte in grade 7, a point is made to examine the xenophobia and assumptions that birthed some of the famous stock characters in Italian theatre. Other times, as artists who need to maintain an acute awareness of the world and the varied people who inhabit it, we simply pause and have a check in about the socio-political climate.
Jordan Mahome, Drama Department Teacher
In kindergarten we incorporate belonging into many aspects of our curriculum. When we study families, we look at the families within our classroom and we also look at family structures that might not be represented within our classroom. We talk about family traditions through clothing, holidays, and celebrations. Families are invited to speak to the classrooms about traditional clothing and holidays that they celebrate.
Kim Cohen, Kindergarten Teacher
Meet the Team
Assistant Head of School for Institutional Equity and Belonging
Lower School Equity and Belonging Coordinator (EBC) Administrative
North Quest Facilitators
A group for adult members of the community who act as facilitators for our affinity groups (shown above)