The following message was sent to the Moorestown Friends School community on June 23, 2020:
Dear Community Members,
A few weeks ago, we wrote to express our sentiments regarding the racialized violence that is happening in our country. We understand the impact that these incidents continue to have on our community, and we responded in that moment by sharing resources and offering spaces for healing through worship. As we settle into summer, much of our focus has been on reopening our school and mitigating the risks of COVID-19. It is very important that we balance a timely school reopening with ensuring the safety of our BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) students during a time of heightened racial inequality. While the focus of this message is on our anti-racism work and support for our BIPOC students and families, we must also lift up awareness and emphasize that our school respects, affirms, and protects the dignity and worth of each member of our community. Additionally, it is imperative that we ensure and prioritize the emotional and mental well-being of all of our students and their families.
Throughout last year, we participated in a strategic planning process that engaged students, employees, families, and a small group of alumni in meaningful conversation about where we can grow and how we can amplify our Quaker mission in the future. Deepening our diversity and inclusion work rose to the top as a key priority, and we have already started identifying ways in which we plan to strengthen this commitment. By creating a truly inclusive school community, we can continue to build on our Quaker commitment to equity and justice as a core value. Although we have made strides toward creating a welcoming environment for white and BIPOC students alike, we know that much more can and should be done.
Below are some of the commitments we are making as part of our strategic diversity, equity, and inclusion goals:
- Consider ways to more intentionally connect our work around diversity, equity, and inclusion with Quakerism and the social-emotional well-being of our community.
- Create an anti-racism statement in addition to a diversity statement that is part of the vision of our strategic plan and aligned with our school mission and Quaker values.
- Continue to build affinity spaces for members of the community to foster education, support, and connection.
- Create a plan for how to build culturally competent skills and knowledge around race, white supremacy, and anti-racism for faculty/staff, students, and families.
- Create a requirement for ongoing employee professional development on diversity, equity, and inclusion topics.
- Review our existing curriculum and commit to enhancing and implementing an anti-racist and anti-bias curriculum in all divisions.
In an effort to move this work forward, it is important to hear from and collaborate with you in order to actively create an inclusive environment for all students. We started the year with a listening session for faculty/staff, during which there was dialogue about the employee experience at MFS and how we can improve our work. This summer, two additional listening sessions will be held, one for alumni and one for parents and guardians. These forums will include a Head of School report on diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts at MFS, and will offer participants opportunities to share their experiences in our community. As part of the program, attendees will have a chance to join affinity spaces led by our student affinity group leaders (‘White Ally’ group or a ‘People of Color’ group) to learn more about the specific needs of these communities around anti-racist work.
Details about these events and the school’s strategic commitments will be coming soon. Thank you for your open mind, courage, and willingness to connect around our shared love of and belief in MFS. Have a peaceful summer.
Julia de la Torre
Head of School
Director of Diversity and Inclusion