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Diversity, Inclusion, Equity and Belonging

June 3, 2020

Dear St. Andrew’s Families, Friends, Faculty, Staff, and Alumni,


Recent events in our country and even in our own City of Austin, specifically related to racial violence and police brutality, have horrified us all.  As an Episcopal School, deeply committed to the dignity of every human being, it is our calling to denounce this behavior and to educate and provide clarity, comfort and relevant resources to our full community – those who are hurting and those who can help.  In many instances, they are one and the same.  To our families, faculty, staff, alumni, and students of color, we know we must do better.  And be better.

I would like to share this important letter from Kendall Evans, our Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging, who says “we must not lose sight of the fact that these dual crises facing our nation – one a health pandemic, the other racial upheaval – have helped to shed light on the gross inequities which have plagued this nation for much longer than any of us would care to remember.  But remember we must.” And as our 31st Street Diversity Director, Priya Kenny, wrote in an email to faculty on Sunday, “As educators, we in particular are blessed with opportunities to help shape the hearts of the next generation, and I rejoice in that.”

Indeed, our role as educators at St. Andrew’s is to open minds and hearts and develop each child’s spirit to make this world a better place.  Reconciliation is the spiritual practice of seeking a loving, liberating and life-giving relationship with God and one another, and striving to heal and transform injustice and brokenness in ourselves, our communities, institutions, and society.  To teach reconciliation, in the words of presiding Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry, is in action and in attitude: “Love, as Jesus teaches, is action like this as well as attitude. It seeks the good, the well-being, and the welfare of others as well as one’s self. That way of real love is the only way there is.” 

That is our commitment to our students and to this community as a whole.  Our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging team has put together a comprehensive list of resources here to further support students, parents, and alumni in our efforts to educate and to stop racism. As we all know, education is the key instrument in any progress, and I am hopeful that you all will take the time to absorb this important information.

Our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging team has organized two events to provide immediate action within our student and alumni community. The Middle School faculty will be holding space for conversations with students in grades 6-8 today via Zoom and the Upper School will be doing the same for its students on Friday, with alumni graciously participating as well.

In closing, I want to share this homily from Upper School Chaplain Mother Whitney that was delivered to our faculty and staff at Monday’s In-Service Chapel.  It was a beautiful, powerful message, including this excerpt: “The Holy Spirit is an advocate for peace, God’s peace, that’s why she’s shown as a dove, but it is a peace that can only come after God’s justice.  It is a peace that can only come from transformation.  That’s why the Holy Spirit shows up as fire. If you have been weary this week, if you have been devastated, if you have raged, if you have cried out to God, if you have been afraid, if you have been surprised, then you are standing in holy fire.”

Holy fire indeed.  We have much work to do.  I hope you will reach out with any questions, needs or concerns. Please read the information we will continue to provide on our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging page and encourage your students to participate in the upcoming sessions we are hosting. 

Faithfully,

Sean Murphy
Head of School
June 3, 2020

Dear St. Andrew's Community, 

I'm sure that many of you, like us, have been watching in horror the latest stories of racist violence, including the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and the threats and harassment by Amy Cooper. While the racist power structures in America are omnipresent, it does feel like things are particularly bad (or at least exposed) right now, especially for BIPOC (Black or Indigenous People of Color).
 
The isolation of the COVID situation can make us feel powerless to take action, but we urge you to lean into your discomfort and take time to reflect on your own role in perpetuating racist structures because there is no one who can exist in this country and keep the shadow of racism from darkening their heart.
 
But there is good news! There are a ton of smart and wise people who have been doing work to empower everyone to fight racism in America, and we wanted to share this document of resources that offer opportunities for reflection and action. As we all prepare for the next uncertain year, we hope we can utilize these and other resources to enrich our affinity group spaces, identity blocks, the re-emergence of pod squad (you read that right, Bri Berkowitz and Carla Childs are set to offer a discussion group for tackling white supremacy) and other venues to bring light to our students, our community, and ourselves. As parents and educators, we in particular are blessed with opportunities to help shape the hearts of the next generation, and we rejoice in that.
 
Please treat yourselves and others with grace as we all figure out how to shoulder this burden, and for my white brothers and sisters, make sure to specifically check out the "75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice" piece!
 
And last, please watch 12-year-old Keedron Bryant sing about life as a young black man, I've cried listening to his beautiful words, voice, and face.
 
We also want you all to know that we are available this summer for discussions about how we can foster diversity, equity, and inclusion at St. Andrew's - please don't hesitate to reach out. 
 
Thank you,
Sam, Kendall, and Priya
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) Team

St. Andrew's Diversity Statement of Purpose

St. Andrew’s values diversity, equity, and inclusion as integral elements of community and education, and a vital facet of our mission, core values, and Episcopal identity. We believe that community diversity manifests in many ways, including but not limited to ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender/gender identity/gender expression, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, family composition, and physical ability. In our commitment to attracting, fostering, and celebrating all aspects of diversity, St. Andrew’s aims to create an intentional environment of belonging -- to create a place where every voice matters, every perspective is valued, and everyone has a place at the table.

SAS Diversity

  • 24% of students self-identify as racially diverse
  • Over 25 religious affiliations; over 20% are Episcopalian
  • Over $2.1 million awarded in financial aid to 135 students

St. Andrew's Diversity Initiatives

List of 6 items.

  • Cultural Competency

    At the Upper School, a student-elected Cultural Competency Council meets regularly and selects a variety of cultural topics to be shared and openly discussed with the entire community in a thoughtful and respectful manner. In the past, students discussed marriage equality, cultural appropriation and symbols, gender equity, cultural identifiers, and mental health awareness.

    In the Middle School, PAPLO (Prejudice Awareness & Peer Leadership Organization) is a program led by students to discuss cultural topics relevant to our times and community.  In the past, topics have included race-based and other cultural privileges, gender identity,  and interfaith and religious conflict.
  • Affinity Groups

    In 2017, the Lower School began incorporating a Students of Color Affinity Group to help foster a culture of inclusion at St. Andrew's. The purpose of this group is to minimize the effects of racial isolation by providing time and space for minority children to have a majority experience, where they can pose questions and process issues with individuals whose race likely has compelled them to grapple with similar challenges. Since then, SAS has added Students of Color affinity groups at the Middle and Upper Schools as well. The school community also has a Students of Divorce cohort and will continue to add other affinity groups in the future to support the diverse needs of our students.
  • FOCUS

    The Families of Cultural Understanding at St. Andrew's (FOCUS) parent group is for adults within the SAS family who want to help create a diverse and inclusive educational environment for their children by elevating issues regarding culture, identity and equity in ways that unify the greater school community. If this describes you, please contact Kendall, Hope, or Priya to share your ideas and insights. The entire team welcomes your support and energy! Also, stay on the lookout for updated information about diversity at St. Andrew’s in your weekly divisional email as well as in each month’s edition of SAS News.
  • Local Partnerships

  • Daily Chapel

    Being an Episcopal school means that we value diversity as an intrinsic quality of authentic community.  This includes religious diversity, as St. Andrew's welcomes students and faculty from varied faiths and fosters a spirit of dialogue and respect. The community gathers daily for a chapel service that is deeply rooted in the Episcopal tradition, but that is also a reflection of the school's religious diversity.  Chapel is a time of prayer, worship, and spiritual formation for all, regardless of denomination or creed. 
  • Professional Development

    Whether hosting a guest speaker or attending a national conference, faculty and students have an opportunity to participate in workshops, presentations, and affinity groups related to topics of equity and justice in teaching and learning.  In the 2016-2017 school year our community participated in The People of Color Conference, The Student Diversity Leadership Conference, The Diversity Leadership Institute, Diversity Directions, and Equity Design Lab:  Culturally Responsive Teaching.

Diversity & Inclusion Team

The Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging team strives to provide worthwhile opportunities for the entire school community to think, speak, and act in ways that reflect meaningful engagement with the topics of equity, multiculturalism, and identity. Together, the team plans and executes diversity initiatives for all grades across both of our bustling campuses.
Kendall Evans, Upper School Co-Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging
Priya Kenny, Co-Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging for Lower/Middle School
Sam Davis, Upper School Assistant Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

List of 2 items.

  • Lower & Middle School

    1112 West 31st St.
    Austin, TX 78705
    Lower (512) 299-9800
    Middle (512) 299-9850
  • Upper School

    5901 Southwest Pkwy.
    Austin, TX 78735
    (512) 299-9700

Located in Austin, Texas, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School is a private co-ed elementary, middle and high school for grades K-12. Students benefit from dedicated faculty, a challenging academic program, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.