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InCommon March Update

Dear Commonwealth Community,

We are excited to share InCommon's progress on a number of fronts:

  • Training for the Board: Nishant Mehta facilitated training for the Board in December. The workshop focused on developing a common understanding of the terms diversity, equity, and inclusion and their nuances; unpacking the Board's role in DEI matters; and guidance for managing institutional change. It was a productive, energizing conversation. A key observation was best put by a trustee who said, "I am humbled by how much work we have to do as a Board."
  • Crafting of a Board Statement about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Building on the training, the Board is crafting a statement that expresses why diversity, equity, and inclusion are important to Commonwealth School. When the statement is complete, it will be shared with the community, including Jennifer Borman and the new Director of DEI.
  • Hiring a Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Commonwealth hired Nishant Mehta and Staci Williams Seeley at Storbeck Search to lead the search. They worked with Bill Wharton, Mara Dale, and InCommon members Rebecca Jackman, Sophia Meas, and Mónica Schilder to develop the position description. In February, the hiring committee selected six candidates for initial interviews. Three strong candidates will return for full-day visits in early March where they will meet with InCommon, faculty, staff, and students. The Director will begin in July 2021. We are thrilled to see this concrete goal come to fruition and look forward to working with the Director to continue to shape and advance our DEI goals.
  • Engaging Faculty and Staff: As part of the January professional development day, Dr. Rodney Glasgow led a workshop for faculty and staff on microaggressions and how to address them both inside and outside of the classroom. One of the goals of the conversation was to understand that even subtle or unintentional statements and actions can be harmful and that as a community we need to pay close attention to how we treat and speak to each other. Faculty and staff will work with Nishant and Staci this spring as they engage in the second and third phases of their work with our community. Phase two will focus on the recruitment and retention of faculty and staff of color. Nishant will review the current policies, programs, and procedures and make recommendations to determine how Commonwealth can more effectively recruit and retain faculty of color. Phase three will focus on reviewing curricula of the English and history departments and recommendations for growth.
  • Engaging the Student Body: A group of students (Alan '21, Alex L. '22, Ryan P. '22, Avery S. '23, and Jo '23) has stepped forward to lead DEI conversations focused on developing a shared understanding and language around DEI matters with the full student body at upcoming all-school meetings. They are also planning for an upcoming Diversity Day later in the spring. Mónica Schilder and other members of the faculty will support these students as they design these events.
  • Engaging our Full Community: This spring, we will undertake the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Assessment of Inclusion and Multiculturalism (AIM), which includes both a self-assessment of our work in this sphere and a full survey of our community. InCommon Too (David Hodgkins, Don Conolly, Jessica Tomer, Mónica Schilder, Rebecca Jackman, Sophia Meas) will serve as the steering committee as we engage in this endeavor. We hope by June to have a full report that will help guide both Jennifer Borman and the new Director of DEI as they begin their work at Commonwealth.

We look forward to sharing further news in late spring. In the meantime, please contact us at incommon@commschool.org with questions or thoughts.

Sincerely,

Janique Parrott-Gaffney '04, Mónica Schilder, Sophia Meas, Rebecca Jackman, John Dowd
InCommon

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