I last updated you regarding the school’s commitment to advancing equality and justice during the summer, but please do not misinterpret the silence as complacency. Our focus continued over the fall and winter with a rising awareness and commitment to anti-racism and anti-bias work. The school values diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) and, we have been strategically exploring language to equip us to engage in these difficult conversations. A strong commitment has been made by the Board of Trustees, the administration, and the faculty to advance this essential work by creating initiatives that will ignite and engage our entire community. At the governance level, DEIJ work began last year with the goal of inviting a new trustee with experience in this area.
We are quite fortunate that Terrell Carter, Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer at Greenville University joined the Board of Trustees this fall to provide that leadership for our community. Terrell will guide us through the process, lending his expertise and perspective on how to navigate these difficult conversations and prepare to evaluate policies, procedures, and curricula as a catalyst for growth. It is our goal that our community will actively and thoughtfully move towards removing racism,
injustice, and bias through this work.
The hallmark of a strong school is the financial commitment to professional development. In the past few months, faculty and staff participated in three webinars entitled Courageous Conversations About Race, Exploring Unintended Consequences of Heroes, Holidays and Heritage Months, and What it Means to be Black in White Spaces. All three were poignant, setting the foundation for gaining the language, vocabulary, knowledge, and perspective to begin internal DEIJ conversations. Also, faculty and staff
participated in a training session created exclusively for Rohan Woods employees by Jason Heisserer, alocal, regional, and national speaker on DEIJ, and the Head of School at Crossroads College Preparatory. Jason led us through a self-reflection on how our life experiences shape who we are as individuals and are often, knowingly, and unknowingly, embedded with racism. This will enable us to better assess our program for advancement in these areas and evaluate how we can serve as anti-racist and anti-bias role
models. As adults, we must un-learn some of our perspectives and practices and strive so our children will not have to do so.
Our next move is boots on the ground. A committee will be formed to set plans in place to move our community from focusing on multi-cultural awareness to analysis to implementing best practices, helping us learn and grow. The team will be comprised of key stakeholders including board, faculty, administration, parents, alumni, and alumni parents. The committee’s task will be to work towards making recommendations for overarching goals and action items which will be included in the school’s
strategic plan. Once these goals are established, Terrell will provide training for our trustees, faculty, staff, and parents in order to attain the goals.
I recognize we have a lot of hard, but important, work in front of us requiring the school to make a long term commitment for real change.
I also recognize that while this work could have been started sooner,
it is important to start now. Shame, blame, and guilt will not be a part of these conversations, but rather how we can contribute to change anti-racist and anti-bias to inclusion and justice. As a community, we are poised and ready to address racial inequality, learning that we all can be the beacon
of change toward an equitable society.