Holton's DEI & Belonging Roadmap to Anti-Racist Education
In 2015 Holton designated Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) as a School-wide priority. Since then, we have created a senior administrative position devoted to diversity (now the Director of Diversity, Wellbeing & Global Education), created a schoolwide faculty and staff committee, TIDE (Towards Inclusion Diversity and Equity); established a Board level Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee; rewrote and the Board of Trustees approved the Diversity Mission Statement; established a Parent Association Vice-President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; created and implemented Learn Well, Live Well, Lead Well Seminar (see description below); engaged in extensive professional development for faculty and staff (led by outside consultants as well as in-house leaders); organized and implemented student-run annual diversity conferences for Middle and Upper School; and introduced affinity groups in the Lower School. You can read more about our progress in the 2019-2020 Annual Report for the Office of Diversity, Wellbeing, and Global Education. Additional Annual Reports can be found here: 2018-2019, 2017-2018 and 2016-2017
Below we have articulated our action steps for School Year 2020-2021 towards each of the priorities we’ve outlined in our Diversity Mission Statement and our commitment to anti-racist education.
- Clearly Articulate Vision
- Definition of Key Terms
- Hold Ourselves Accountable
- Continue and Extend Anti-racist Training
- Continue and Expand Allied and Community Spaces
- Increase and Support Mentoring
- Recruit and Hire a Diverse Faculty and Staff
- Review and Revise the College Counseling Approach
- Review and Revise Acceleration, Honors and Advanced Placement
- Review and Revise Curriculum
- Review and Revise Discipline Trends and Policies
- Review and Revise Transportation Routes
- Review and Revise Admissions Process
- Ongoing Advice and Consultation
DEI Mission Statement
Our commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is best articulated in our 5-part Diversity mission statement approved by the Board of Trustees in Spring 2019.
The Holton-Arms community recognizes and values the uniqueness of each of its members including current and former students, faculty, and staff. We strive to create an inclusive environment that sees and supports diverse identities and experiences, cultivates engaged and civil discourse, and empowers our students to be thriving members of the global community.
At Holton-Arms, each of us is responsible for fostering an equitable, respectful, and just community. Holton is committed to helping its members:
- Discover, develop, and value their full authentic selves.
- Deepen awareness of their own personal and systemic biases and be accountable for the impact of their words and actions on others.
- Develop an understanding of the historical origins and perpetuation of systems of power and privilege.
- Engage in open and brave conversations that promote growth, understanding, connection, and agency.
- Be advocates for supporting the diverse identities of others in the community.
Learn Well, Live Well, Lead Well
Since its founding, Holton has aimed to provide a robust education “not only of the mind but of the soul and spirit.” We know that this holistic philosophy is always important—and recognize that it is especially so right now. Learn Well, Live Well, Lead Well Seminar (informally called “Seminar”) is a program housed in our Office of Diversity, Wellbeing & Global Education. It is a comprehensive integrated, interdisciplinary curriculum that directly addresses the School-wide goals and competencies that embrace Holton’s institutional priorities of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Health and Wellbeing, and Global Education. In Seminar, the students engage in learning opportunities designed to further develop their knowledge, skills, and habits of mind addressing:
- Physical and Emotional Health
- Self-Knowledge and Identity
- Open-mindedness and Perspective Taking
- Communication, Collaboration, and Community Building
- Creative and Critical Thinking
- Curiosity, Knowledge, and Discernment
- Local, National and Global Engagement
- Social Justice
Seminar will be running in grades 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, and 10 for the 2021-2022 School year, and will be running in all grades by the 2022-2023 School year. Host teacher(s) in each grade, create and maintain an engaging and brave classroom environment where students have the time and space to explore a range of topics and issues that reflect their lived experiences as well as the world around them. Guest teachers from the Holton community with diverse expertise and insight also help facilitate classes over the course of two trimesters.
Last spring, the Office of Diversity, Wellbeing, and Global Education and Seminar teachers shared an overview with the Holton community regarding goals, future plans, and what lessons look like in each grade, ranging from the third grade’s “Backpack Lesson” (which develops open-mindedness and perspective taking) to the eighth grade’s Slam Poetry Unit (self-knowledge, communication, collaboration, and social justice). You can read more in the slides from the Seminar presentation to give you a peek into how we are cultivating the knowledge, skills, and habits of mind to empower students to Learn Well, Live Well, Lead Well.
Holton aligns with the National Association of Independent Schools definitions for the following key terms:
Diversity: The concept of diversity embraces the wide range of human characteristics used to mark or identify individual and group identities. These characteristics include, but are not limited to, ethnicity, race, national origin, age, personality, sexual orientation, gender, class, religion, ability, and linguistic preferences. Diversity is a term used as shorthand for visible and quantifiable statuses, but diversity of thought and ways of knowing, being, and doing are also understood as natural, valued, and desired states, the presence of which benefit organizations, workplaces, and society.
Equity: Equity exists as a condition that balances two dimensions: fairness and inclusion. As a function of fairness, equity implies ensuring that people have what they need to participate in school life and reach their full potential. Equitable treatment involves eliminating barriers that prevent the full participation of all individuals. As a function of inclusion, equity ensures that essential education programs, services, activities, and technologies are accessible to all. Equity is not equality; it is the expression of justice, ethics, multi-partiality, and the absence of discrimination.
Inclusivity/Inclusiveness: Inclusiveness means encompassing all-taking every individual’s experience and identity into account and creating conditions where all feel accepted, safe, empowered, supported, and affirmed. An inclusive school or organization expands its sense of community to include all, cultivating belonging and giving all an equal voice. Inclusivity also promotes and enacts the sharing of power and recognition of interdependence where authorizing individuals and community members share responsibility for expressing core values and maintaining respect for differences in the spirit of care and cooperation.
Social Justice: Social justice is a vision of society in which the distribution of resources is equitable and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure. Social justice involves social actors who have a sense of their own agency as well as a sense of social responsibility toward and with others and society as a whole.
Racist: One who is supporting a racist policy through their actions or inaction or expressing a racist idea.
Anti-racist: One who is supporting an anti-racist policy through their actions or expressing an antiracist idea.
“I define an antiracist as someone who is expressing an antiracist idea or supporting an antiracist policy with their actions. And I define an antiracist idea as any idea that says the racial groups are equal. Becoming antiracist requires every individual to choose every day to think, act, and advocate for equality, which will require changing systems and policies that may have gone unexamined for a long time.”
- Ibram X. Kendi
Updating the Honor Code (July 2020)
By implementing Holton’s Diversity Mission Statement and anti-racism policies in conjunction with the Honor Council system, the Holton-Arms School demonstrates that students should “be accountable for the impact of [their] words and actions on others” (as stated in the Diversity Mission Statement). Students may not engage in behavior or language (oral, written, or virtual) that is demeaning, dehumanizing, degrading, or harmful toward individuals or social groups that students may belong to or identities that they may hold, inside or outside of the Holton community. Any oppressive behavior, language, gestures, pictures, images, or videos that are demeaning, dehumanizing, degrading, or harmful targeted at social groups or individuals based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, class, or ability are in violation of Holton’s Diversity Mission Statement, Statement of Respect, and the Bullying and Harassment Policy and are subject to disciplinary action. All students in violation of this policy will be required to reflect on their actions’ impact on their peers and the community, regardless of intent.
It is important to note that restorative practices do not replace disciplinary action.
Updating the Student Handbook
N-Word and Derogatory Epithet Policy: No person should say or write the “n-word” or any other derogatory epithet under any circumstances, including in the context of a literary or historical text.
It is unquestionably clear that certain words articulate hateful messages even when historically contextualized and/or referenced. In order to honor our Diversity Mission Statement and our commitment to anti-racist practices, we will as a community, no longer accept the use of the “n-word” or other racial, ethnic, sexual, or religious epithets. In classrooms, we will use the accepted phrase, “the n-word” and will do so with sensitivity and an awareness of the impact of that word.
Middle and Upper School Students (October)will participate in workshops on the historical harm of the “N Word” and derogatory epithet with Dr. Lisa Thomas, past parent and Associate Director of the American Federation of Teachers, during the 2020-2021 school year.
Updating the Contract and Employee Handbook
The School has included the following Policy Against Racist or Oppressive Language or Behavior in the Employee Handbook. Although racist or oppressive language or behavior is also generally covered in the Policy Against Harassment, Discrimination and Retaliation Holton has chosen to include more specific language against racist or oppressive language or behavior.
Policy Against Racism and Racist or Oppressive Language or Behavior
Faculty, Staff, and Administration are accountable to and responsible for implementing Holton’s Diversity Mission Statement and anti-racism policies. Faculty, staff, and administration will “be accountable for the impact of [their] words and actions on others” as stated in the Diversity Mission Statement). Students, faculty, and staff, may not engage in behavior or language (oral, written, or virtual) that is demeaning, dehumanizing, degrading, or harmful toward individuals or social groups that an individual may belong to or identities that an individual may hold inside or outside of the Holton community. Any behavior, language, gestures, pictures, images, or videos that are demeaning, dehumanizing, degrading, or harmful targeted at social groups or individuals based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, class, or ability, whether intentional or unintentional, is considered oppressive and is in violation of Holton’s Diversity Mission Statement, Statement of Respect, and the Bullying and Harassment Policy and is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including and possible termination.
Employee Contracts and Employment Letters
Language related to racist and oppressive language and behavior will be included in employee contracts and employment letters going forward.
Employees who have any questions about this policy should contact the Director of Human Resources.
Parent/Guardian Enrollment Contract
As we hold our students, faculty, and staff accountable for upholding Diversity Mission Statement and anti-racism policies and practices, we expect our parents/guardians to adhere to the same standards as stated in paragraph 10 of the Enrollment Contract.
Parent Cooperation: A positive and constructive relationship between the School and the Parents or other person(s) interacting with the School and/or School community by virtue of their relationship with the Student is essential to the mission of the School. Parents’ obligations in this relationship include, but are not limited to, participating in School activities, supporting the School's philosophy and policies, staying informed by reading School communications, completing and returning School forms by applicable deadlines, and communicating openly, constructively, and in a civil manner with all School personnel. Thus, if the behavior, communication, or interaction on-campus or off-campus (including during School-sponsored events) of Parents or other individuals interacting with the School and/or School community by virtue of their relationship with the student is disruptive, intimidating, overly aggressive, or reflects a loss of confidence or serious disagreement with the School, including but not limited to disagreement with its policies, procedures, responsibilities, personnel, leadership or standards, or imperils accomplishment of its educational purpose or program, Parents understand and agree that the School has the right to dismiss the student from the School, the School property, a School event, implement other such restriction, or take other such action as determined in the School’s sole and exclusive discretion. In addition, Parents understand and agree that the School has the right to place restrictions on the Parents’ or other affiliated individuals’ involvement with or activity at the School, on School property, or at School-related events, if such Parents/individuals engage in behavior that the School determines in its sole and exclusive discretion to warrant such a restriction.
If a parent/guardian violates the above, the Head of School and possibly another senior administrator will meet with the parent/guardian to debrief the incident, discuss expectations for the community, suggest restorative action, and next steps.
The school is committed to becoming an anti-racist, anti-biased school. We recognize that extensive and ongoing training must be part of achieving this goal and we are committed to ensuring that all faculty, staff, and students engage in this effort.
Throughout the 2020-2021 School Year, the Senior Administrative team which includes the Head of School, Division Directors, and leadership from across faculty and staff, will engage in anti-racist training with the Racial Equity Institute and participate in professional development with the Interational Institute for Restorative Practice.
Program Leadership, which includes our Department Chairs, Division Directors, and Academic Dean, provides key leadership for faculty in areas of the curriculum. In 2020, this group completed a 4-module anti-bias training from the Kirwan Institute. As we have established anti-racism work as the focus of our professional learning for the 2020-2021 School Year, this leadership body will model this work through individualized learning paths, as well as full School learning opportunities and expectations-setting focused on reflection and application of the Live Well, Learn Well, Lead Well education philosophy and grounded in anti-racist education best practices.
In Summer 2020 all Faculty were required to read White Fragility and will be engaging in small group discussions in the fall. They also participated in several professional development sessions including,
- Building Awareness: Deepening Your Skills as an Antiracist Educator Workshop
- Building Brave Spaces: Fostering and Facilitating Conversations about Race Workshop
- Professional Learning Retreats for Seminar Teachers with Anti-racist Workshops for all divisional teams
Throughout the School year, they will participate in Faculty Professional Days that will focus on anti-racism (October 2020; February 2021). Additionally, anti-racist professional development topics will be included monthly in the Wednesday Faculty Meetings. Using a professional goal-setting and tracking platform, teachers will create an individual professional learning plan based around one shared competency:
- Teachers facilitate opportunities for students to critically identify and examine systems of power and privilege in order to take action in support of human rights locally, nationally, and globally.
And one of the following five competencies of their choice:
- Course resources and stories reflect students' own diverse identities balanced with a view of others’ identities and experiences.
- Teachers implement strategies to support students' social and emotional learning and their diverse identities in course routines
- Teachers recognize and honor diverse learning profiles; students are properly supported and challenged
- Teachers build an authentic relationship with each student as the cornerstone of the learning experience, recognizing and affirming students’ intersecting identities.
- Teachers create a learning environment that promotes physical, social, and emotional wellbeing for students.
In cross-divisional, interdepartmental learning teams, teachers will process the anti-racist training and discuss ways they have applied it in their classroom and curricular practices.
Faculty and Students in Grades 6th-12th will read and discuss Stamped: Racism, Anti-racism, and You beginning in January 2021.
All Staff are required to read White Fragility and will be engaging in 4-5 small group discussions in fall 2020. They also began engaging in a series of Anti-racism training customized for staff during the summer of 2020.
Note: White Fragility by Robin Diangelo was the 2020 summer reading for Faculty and Staff. For those faculty and staff who read White Fragility in 2019-2020, we recommended works like Stamped from the Beginning, How to Be An Anti-Racist, and Stamped: Racism, Anti-racism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi, Caste: The Origins of Our Discomforts by Isabel Wilkerson, and Why Are All of the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria by Beverly Daniel Tatum. Please find an anti-racist booklist for parents and educators here.
Students engage in anti-racist training regularly through their Live Well, Learn Well, Lead Well Seminar classes. Additionally, students have opportunities to engage with other anti-racist programming including:
- Diversity Conference Steering Committee and RA created and adopted the Honor Code amendment regarding the use of offensive and hurtful language (July 2020)
- RA Retreat/Summer Reading How to Be An Anti-Racist, Stamped: Racism, Anti-racism, and You, and Seeing White Podcast Series
- Let’s Talk About It Forums: Student-led allied spaces for students to talk about current events and equity topics in a constructive and healthy way.
- Upper School students attend Facilitator Training /Planning Retreat for the Annual Student Diversity Conferences in the Middle and Upper School
- Student-led Diversity Conferences in the Middle and Upper Schools
- Student Summer Book Club for rising seniors (Just Mercy, The Bluest Eye)
- Students and Faculty in Grades 6th-12th to read and discuss Stamped: Racism, Anti-racism, and You beginning in January 2021.
The Parent Association Executive Board created a Vice-President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in 2020. This year, in collaboration with the Director of Diversity, Wellbeing, and Global Education and the Assistant Director of Lower School, the Vice- President will convene four Anti-Racism education sessions for parents/guardians during 2020-2021 with notable DEI facilitator, writer, and consultant Ali Michael for the school year. In addition, parents/guardians will be invited to meet in affinity groups and engage in an anti-racist Book Club for parents. The Parent/Guardians’ Book Club will read Stamped: Racism, Anti-racism, and You. The VP of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion will lead an audit of Parent Association policies and practices in order to increase the diversity of the Executive Board.
Board of Trustees:
The current Board membership is 9% Latinx/Hispanic and 9% Black. The Chair and President, the Board leadership, are both Black women.
In 2018 Holton created a Board Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee. For the 2020-2021 School year, the committee will engage the Board in establishing Anti-Racist goals and plans across all committees and for individual members by October 2020. They will also be participating in anti-racist training at the September Board retreat.
Holton is committed to hosting safe spaces for our students, parents, and alumnae to connect with peers from similar backgrounds. These spaces include:
Upper School Allied Spaces:
Black Student Union (BSU), Asia Culture Club, South Asia Culture Club, Jewish Culture Club, Spectrum (LGBTQIA-identifying and allies), Iranian Culture Club, Latinx Club and Greek Club (ongoing).
Check out the latest issue of Scribbler to read what our Upper School students are saying about anti-racist education at Holton.
Middle School Affinity Spaces:
Common Threads affinity spaces will be implemented for Students of Color during the 2020-2021 school year.
Lower School Affinity Spaces:
Beginning in 2019, Common Thread affinity spaces have been held for Black, Biracial, and Asian students. In the 2020-2021 school year, we will add an affinity group for Jewish students.
In August 2020, the Head of School, the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Global Education, and the PA Vice-President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion will host a Q/A session with new and returning Black and Asian/Pacific Islander families. In September, the Parent Association will invite parents to join Common Threads parent/guardian affinity groups that will meet regularly with the Director of Diversity, Wellbeing, and Global Education and the Head of School.
A group of Black alumnae, working with the School’s Alumnae Office, established the Black Alumnae Group in 2018. This group welcomes all Black alumnae, mentors current Holton students, and hosts events for alumnae and current families.
The Black Alumnae Group, established in 2018, began working with affinity groups/allied Spaces for current students in Upper School (BSU) and Lower School (Common Threads) in 19-20 and will expand that mentoring to include Middle School Common Threads in 20-21. Additionally, students from the BSU and Asia and South Asia Culture clubs will continue mentoring Lower School students.
In the 2019-2020 School year, 14% of faculty identified as persons of color. While this percentage is comparable to local independent school peers outside the District of Columbia, because we know our students will benefit, we are committed to increasing the diversity of our faculty. Half of our 2020-2021 school-year new hires identify as a person of color. These new hires include roles in College Counseling, Upper School Counseling, Visual Arts, Middle, and Upper School Math and Middle School Spanish.
In October 2019, the Director of Human Resources and the Academic Dean attended training on Minority Recruitment offered through the Association of Independent Schools of the Greater Washington Area. The knowledge and resources gleaned from the conference informed the development of a school-wide anti-bias in hiring training. The Director of Human Resources, the Administration, and Program Leadership will establish annual and three-year goals for faculty diversity by December 2020 ahead of the 2021-2022 hiring
The College Counseling Office, which has welcomed two new staff members including a Spelman graduate, is taking the opportunity to review their programming carefully. This fall, the Office of College Counseling will participate in anti-racist training specific to their field. They will conduct a thorough review of the college counseling process to include but not be limited to how they work with students to develop college lists. The College Counseling Office has long provided an annual workshop on financial aid that includes college financial aid officers; they also distribute scholarship information and advise individual families. The financial aid programming will also be part of the review of their processes. Additionally, Holton will integrate content for exploration of college choice, HBCUs, and affirmative action into the Live Well, Learn Well, Lead Well Seminar curriculum for 10th and 11th graders. During the 20-21 school year, juniors will receive this content through advisory and class meetings (juniors will not take Seminar until 21-22).
Math and Science Departments Curricular Changes
- Math 7 eliminated in 2017 to ensure that all students complete Algebra I in 8th grade.
- Physics Foundations eliminated in 2018
- Tracking in 5th and 6th-grade math eliminated in 2019
- Implementing Middle School two-year Algebra 1 curriculum for all students (2020-21)
Audit Accelerated, AP, Honors, and Advanced Class Placement
The Administration, Program Leadership, and individual departments are conducting an audit of honors and advanced class placement. Informed by this audit, we will review, revise, and publish placement policies and practices by November 2020 to be included in the course proposal and course planning processes for the School year 2021-2022. This information will be included in curriculum night presentations and other communications relevant to course planning.
Over the course of the past two years, faculty worked in departments and cross-divisional teams to create a set of school-wide and content-specific Goals and Competencies to support Holton’s institutional priorities of Diversity, Wellbeing, and Global Education. Teachers researched and leveraged resources from the following organizations throughout this process: Teaching Tolerance, The Center for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, Facing History and Ourselves, The Asia Society, and national standards from discipline-specific organizations. This resulted in a robust set of Learn Well, Live Well, Lead Well, and Department-specific Goals and Competencies.
Commencing in the spring of 2020, departments began to use the Backwards Design process to embed these mission-driven learning goals throughout their units of study. Additionally, Program Leadership will be reading Grading for Equity by Joe Feldman as a guide to review our grading policies. Teachers will again use Holton’s process of curricular renewal, PRISM, to ensure our course offerings and units of study provide an anti-racist education for students that is delivered by teachers committed to anti-racist pedagogy. The PRISM process for this work is outlined below:
Pinpoint the driving questions:
- How can this Department ensure its course offerings and units of study provide all students with an anti-racist education?
- How will teachers build their capacity to mitigate bias and utilize anti-racist pedagogy in their classrooms?
- How does a teacher’s white frame impact the choices they make in their curriculum and classrooms?
Research multiple resources and perspectives
- What organizations can support Holton in this work?
- What experts can consult with faculty as they reimagine the curriculum?
- Whose voices should inform the decision-making process?
- What learning experiences do teachers need to build their understanding of the historical underpinnings of racism and the ways they uphold a white frame?
Illustrate the ideal
- What courses should all students be required to take within our department in support of an anti-racist education?
- What electives should be offered in our department to support anti-racist education?
- What units should be included in our courses to support anti-racist education?
- What topics, concepts, and understandings related to systemic racism and one’s responsibility in a racist society will students learn through this subject?
Strategize steps to reach the ideal
- What immediate changes can we make/are we making in support of our commitment to anti-racist education?
- What changes can be made to the curriculum and course offerings for the 2021-2022 school year in support of our commitment to anti-racist education?
- What ongoing training will teachers need in order to implement anti-racist education?
- This process will be completed in time for new course proposals and course planning for the School year 2021-2022.
Throughout the 2020 Summer, teachers have reviewed curricular units and courses to support Holton’s priorities of Diversity, Wellbeing, and Global Education through the integration of the Learn Well, Live Well, Lead Well and Departmental goals and competencies. This process has centered on inclusive content, issues of social justice, and authentic ways for students to take action. Examples of this work from History and English are summarized below:
Teachers designed new units, assignments, and authentic assessments to better align the study of history with the lived experiences of the students and to make teaching more focused on skill-building. Teachers also convened an anti-racism reading group and, based on these discussions, have started the process towards a redesign of the Upper School history curriculum. The aim of the curriculum is to foreground the tools and methods of historiography, to amplify the voices of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, and to lay bare the intersection of power, race, class, gender, and sexuality in societies of the past and present.
As English teachers, we recognize how literature acts as a mirror and a window, allowing students to learn more about themselves as well as about the lives of others. To that end, we began last year to take a hard look at the texts we use in grades three through twelve and ask how we can better represent our own students and allow them to understand a variety of perspectives. Each grade has reconfigured units, brought in new voices, or worked on ways to use texts to spur discussions that push students to question their own position in society and how to navigate systems of oppression and privilege.
Moving forward, the English Department will collaborate with other Departments to lay the foundation for an anti-racist education by complementing their exploration of the history of racism, including the scientific justification of racism, definitions of racism, etc with an examination of historical and contemporary memoirs, speeches, and essays. We will continue to explore literature that helps students to understand the legacy of slavery, oppression, and privilege through fiction and non-fiction and are committed to featuring additional texts to celebrate black joy and accomplishments within the BIPOC community.
The World Languages Department seeks to nurture dialogue and culturally sensitive interaction with people of diverse languages, perspectives, and practices. Our main goal is for our students to communicate effectively in the target language, with respect and empathy, accounting for the thoughts, opinions, and norms of others. Every year, we work to bring in missing voices from different communities through the study of literature, history, the arts, and current events. We want our students to investigate and reflect through comparisons of cultures studied and their own and to share their voices. Our reading program, which currently goes from grade 5 to 12th; our workshops with guest speakers and artists, and our local engagement opportunities are a few examples.
It is important to recognize that World Languages teachers come from diverse ethnicities and nationalities. Most were born and raised outside the USA, and are therefore products of diverse forms of racial socialization. The lenses we bring to the classroom often allow us to critically examine American racial bias. However these same lenses can prevent us from deeply examining our own relationship with race. This year, we will engage in deep self-reflection to examine our own racial identities and biases to understand how they shape our relationships with others and impact our teaching practices.
In the math department, we want every Holton girl to love math and learn it to her full potential. We are committed to providing opportunities for every student to study mathematics at the highest level. This summer we have begun the process of transitioning our curriculum to cover Pre-Algebra and Algebra 1 over the course of three years. Heterogeneous classes of Pre-Algebra in Grade 6, Algebra 1A in Grade 7, and Algebra 1B in Grade 8, every student will have the opportunity to build a strong foundation and better and better cultivate the critical 21st-century skills of mathematical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration. Our reimagined Grades 6-8 sequence will give all students access to the same opportunities for success, along with the time they need to engage in, process, and develop a deep conceptual understanding of Algebra. This foundation is essential for all students to find success in future math courses.
Moving forward, we are committed to evaluating and improving our process for honors placements and recommendations in the upper school, with an explicit focus on confronting our unconscious biases and eliminating discrimination. We will strive to make the criteria more objective and clear. We will strive to make honors and advanced placements more transparent, fair, and accessible to all students.
It is the goal of the science department to nurture students who will become informed citizens, knowledge seekers, and change makers. We hope that our students will pursue science beyond classes at Holton and to that end, we are committed to making sure that all students have the opportunity to participate in the highest level of courses, science research, and science based extra curricular activities like Robotics and Chemathon. Within our courses, the science department has shifted content to include a variety of important topics. To focus on social justice we’ve included an examination of the Flint Water Crisis in 7th grade and Forensics case studies that include discussions of the role of race in the conviction of people accused of committing crimes. Students are learning to take action in their communities - as they learn about the periodic table and chemical reactions, the eighth grade will consider how their consumer choices with regard to electronics impact the global availability of precious resources, and health of different populations on earth. They will also investigate the physical mechanisms of detergents and draw conclusions regarding the efficacy of hand-washing as a means of infection control. Physics classes will include discussions of social justice such as kneeling during the national anthem, title IX, and paying college athletes while learning about concepts such as Newton’s Laws of Motion. Chemistry classes are applying concepts to making real change in issues such as acid rain and COVID-19 treatments. Biology courses will be shifting discussions of genetics, body systems, and diseases to embrace social justice and diverse perspectives. Environmental Science has shifted to studying global applications in environmental science and uses the sustainable development goals to drive investigations. The course will include discussions of privilege and the environment . All science classes are highly focused on teamwork and collaboration to affect change in the world. We are using science concepts to have open discussions about the world around us.
Fine and Performing Arts
As arts teachers we are committed to providing our students with experiences that provide richly diverse viewpoints, outlets where they can express themselves and make their voices heard, and spaces for them to come together to create and grow both as individuals and as a community. During the 2020 school year the Visual and Performing Arts departments sought out diversity workshops and training through the office of Well-being, Diversity and Global Education. Our goal was to engage in brave conversations about who we are and what we teach so we could examine our own implicit biases and strive to address those biases in our teaching, as well as help our students to recognize and address their own implicit biases through their experiences in the arts. We plan to continue that training through the 2020-2021 school year and beyond. As our arts curriculum naturally evolve and change with each year, and even from trimester to trimester, we are committed to continuing to seek out works, projects, pieces and repertoire that represent and champion the voices of women, Black, Indigenous and People of Color as well as the broad spectrum of Gender & Sexual Diversity. We believe that the arts are one the main places where students can learn to embrace and foster empathy. And only through empathy can we begin to dismantle the systems of racism, sexism, and bigotry in our world.
Physical education is an essential component of a curriculum that serves to educate the whole child. Physical activity improves both physical and mental health, by implementing carefully selected and diverse activities, we hope to encourage and promote healthy habits. Risk taking is encouraged in an environment that is supported by respect and positive reinforcement. Cooperative team situations provide the student with the opportunity to problem solve and feel successful through a group effort. A major goal of the physical education program is to promote an interest in physical activity that continues throughout the student’s time and school and beyond.
This summer we continued to build upon our mission in Physical Education and made adjustments to meet the needs of our students. Whether in person or virtual, the department is confident that we will be able to adjust and give the kids what they deserve to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Our curriculum changes each year to always meet our students needs and this year will be no different. We will work as a department to add more skills and diversity to our already existing beliefs. In closing, we take great pride as a department in meeting the needs of our students in every aspect and we will continue to do so.
The Head of School, the Upper School Director, the Dean of Students, Grade level Deans, the Director of Diversity, Wellbeing & Global Education, and the Upper School Counselor will audit Upper School discipline by examining which students receive points and detention and the reasons for those points and detention as well as disciplinary cases that come before RA and Honor Council. This audit will inform a review of disciplinary policies and practices to align them with the Diversity Mission Statement. We will also determine where to implement restorative justice best practices. The Administrative Team and Upper School Deans will complete Restorative Justice training by June 2021. Restorative Justice practices are currently being employed in the Middle School.
Division Directors, Director of Finance and Operations, Director of Diversity, Wellbeing & Global Education, Director of Enrollment Management, Director of Admissions, and Facilities Manager for Transportation to review and revise bus routes and evaluate the equity of quality across the fleet of busses. Recommendations include adding a late bus to Prince George’s County and consider using Holton-branded buses along the Prince George’s County route. Please note that COVID-19 may significantly delay any major transportation changes.
During School Year 2020-21, the Admissions Department will engage in anti-bias/anti-racist education to include:
- Examining Bias in a school’s Admission Process
- Participating in the Kirwan Institute Implicit Bias Module Series
- Taking part in Individualized anti-racist work (such as reading White Fragility or, How to Be an Anti-racist or listening to the Seeing White Podcast Series)
The Admissions Office will conduct a thorough audit of the Admissions Process from an anti-racist perspective to be completed by June 2021
As Holton engages in the ongoing process of becoming an anti-racist institution, we will continue to seek input from various constituents. Several alumnae from the Black Alumnae Group have generously agreed to serve as an advisory committee on issues related to anti-racism. We will also continue to work with outside experts, particularly The Glasgow Group, Ali Michael,Racial Equity Institute, as well as peer diversity practitioners at the Wells Collective.