Diversity, equity, and inclusion are central themes at St. Francis, woven into our core values, philosophy of education, and everyday practices in the classrooms and school community.
Our official Diversity Statement reads: At St. Francis, we believe there is an inherent strength in a community, a city, and a world in which members exhibit a breadth of talent, skills, and attributes. We define diversity as differences embodied in (but not limited to) age, ethnicity, race, family composition, gender, gender identity and expression, geographic origin, learning styles, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economics, and ideologies. We seek to prepare students to live in and contribute to their world by acknowledging and celebrating who they are and who they wish to become. In addition, given the fact of profound inequalities of opportunity that still exist in our world, we strive to foster a respectful and welcoming school community for us all as a model for the challenges that face us each day as global citizens.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion work is embedded into our curriculum and classes, as a major goal at SFS is to provide students with a broad worldview and expose them to a diversity of voices, particularly underrepresented voices. The faculty takes time to discuss and document how diversity, equity, and inclusion manifest themselves in the curriculum and pedagogy within each division and department in order to ensure that we are constantly examining and evolving our practices in this area. Goshen’s DEI Council meets monthly and is made up of faculty members representing a variety of departments and divisions. This group looks for new ways to incorporate DEI themes into our curriculum. The council also looks for training opportunities for faculty and staff so that they are better prepared to engage in DEI issues.
Our work around diversity, equity, and inclusion takes various forms on the Goshen Campus, keeping the developmental needs of students in mind. Our students need a clear understanding of how our actions impact those around us, and they need to experience joy by celebrating what makes our community diverse and exceptional. In Lower School, our DEI Coordinator and School Counselor created a program called Compassionate Conversations where students learn about how to work together as a group and find ways to resolve conflict respectfully.
In Middle School, students have come together to create organizations including the Black Students Association (BSA), the Queer Students Association (QSA), and the Culture Club, which focuses on promoting multicultural awareness for the student body. While the membership is composed of Middle School students and older Lower School students, these groups, with the help of their Faculty Advisors, have created programming that reaches out to Lower School as well. The goal of these groups is to create safe spaces for all of our students and a chance to celebrate individual and collective identities. These groups meet regularly over lunch and have hosted fun events like movie watching parties, created educational content for Middle School Morning Meetings, and have also worked with School Leadership to provide feedback on candidates for our new Middle School Director. Through these groups, student voice is woven into the fabric of real, purposeful work to move the School ever closer to fully realizing its Vision and Mission.
Our teachers in both Lower and Middle School are committed to exposing students to a wide variety of cultures and points of view in their classroom, whether it’s through the authors students read, the composers they study in music class, the people and places they study in Social Studies, the achievements of famous scientists they learn about, or the artists they emulate in fine arts classes. And, of course, our World Language curriculum goes to great lengths to teach acceptance, respect, and appreciation for other cultures, races, and religions, as well as celebrate the achievements of people of color and women, in particular Asian and Latinx people in the U.S. since we teach both Chinese and Spanish.
One of the Board of Trustees’ major strategic initiatives is to increase the diversity of all our major constituencies at the School, starting with a student body that reflects the ethnic and racial makeup of the Metro Louisville population. On the Goshen Campus, we continue to look for additional opportunities to understand our school climate and culture; make it as diverse, equitable, and inclusive as possible; and practice strategies for modeling and having conversations with students about these complex and sometimes difficult topics. Faculty professional development in DEI remains a strong priority. For the past several years, we have sent teachers from both campuses to the National Association of Independent Schools’ People of Color Conference. Throughout every school day, from celebrations in Morning Meeting to numerous student organization meetings to the discussions in each classroom, we engage in continuous work to ensure that all voices are heard and affirmed, thereby truly living our values in diversity, equity, and inclusion.