The DEI Dashboard
In the last Courier, we introduced the staffulty DEI Task Force. The goal of the group for this school year is to develop a DEI Dashboard that will help us assess what it means for every student to thrive at Sonoma Academy and to identify any areas where we may need to improve.
To do this, we first conducted workshops with our entire staffulty and our Board of Trustees exploring the Sonoma Academy mission statement and what it means to thrive at Sonoma Academy. From this work, we drafted a wide variety of questions that could be utilized on a survey that would help us assess our culture and the student experience. We have refined these questions and next we will conduct interviews with a cross-section of students to “pressure test” the questions. This work with students will help us understand what language is most meaningful and which questions produce the most relevant information. From there, we will develop an electronic survey that we will administer to students in the late winter/early spring. Our goal is to achieve a 100% response rate from our students. We will then review and analyze the data and develop an initial report of our findings. From this point, we will have both a good baseline of understanding as well as information to help us develop programming and plans for the coming years.
In order to facilitate our own work, many members of our DEI Task Force have obtained and plan to obtain professional training. At last year’s National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) conference, members of the Administrative Team including Ellie Dwight, Dot Kowal, Director of Marketing Lily Thompson, Director of Enrollment, Financial Aid, and Institutional Research Sandy Stack participated in a session on creating an Inclusion Dashboard, which helped kick off this year’s initiative. Ellie, Dot, Sandy, Lily, and STEM Teacher Cassidy Brown have all also participated in the Inclusion Dashboard Consortium Retreat, established and run by Kalyan Balaven, Dean of Equity & Inclusion at Athenian School, during which the methods for creating a DEI dashboard were explored.
This school year, Dot Kowal and Dean of Student Life Darren Duarte attended a workshop in Equity as Excellence through the California Teacher Development Coalition (CATDC), and Humanities teacher Colin McNamara is attending a CATDC training in Teaching & Assessing Writing in an Equitable & Student-led English Classroom. Additionally, we will be working with both staffulty and students throughout the year around trainings, assemblies, and other educational opportunities to enhance our understanding and skills related to DEI issues.
DEI Is an Institutional Priority
In addition to the staffulty DEI Task Force charged with all of the work outlined above, our Board of Trustees has established a DEI Committee and SAPA has also re-established its DEI Committee. Dot Kowal will be the liaison amongst these committees helping to ensure alignment of the work and cooperation amongst these various adult constituents.
We are also committed to expanding the diversity of our staffulty. As a member of BAISTAC (the Bay Area Independent School Teacher Access Coalition), Ellie attends regular meetings to learn about successfully recruiting and retaining underrepresented candidates. Later this year, Ellie and Director of Human Resources Susan Adams are also attending a workshop put on by Nemnet, a national resource organization committed to assisting schools and organizations in the recruitment and retention of diverse teachers, administrators, and coaches.
Throughout the year, we will share information and updates related to DEI and the work we are doing as a school.