Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging
Talking about race relations, religion, class, or gender identity can be uncomfortable. Sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know. But having respectful and open conversations around diversity pushes us to see the world differently, to think about people and place and circumstance from new perspectives. How empowering, this opportunity for individual and collective growth.
A Conversation with Lab’s Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Anthony Perry, PhD
Charlene Carruthers, in her book Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements, argues that “everyone invested in collective liberation must answer the following questions critical to determining the health and success of our movements: Who am I?, Who are my people?, What do we want?, What are we building?, and Are we ready to win?
Before many people at The Lab School met Anthony Perry, PhD on individual and group Zooms, he sent out an email to our “staffulty”—as he calls our faculty and staff, a term that has been joyfully adopted by the community—setting out to answer the question “Who am I?”
Prior to Lab, Dr. Perry worked as a Spanish teacher for 15 years at five different schools across the country where he also worked on various DEI initiatives.
We consider our diversity work of utmost importance at our school and in our world. At Lab, we are actively listening, talking, and working with more intention around our commitment to the span of issues that fall under the umbrella of diversity.
“We are in the right space to affect our students’ lives, and I don’t mean simply making them read black poetry or focus on topics we think are relevant. Having an open mind and being able to listen to and understand different people from different walks of life is probably the greatest gifts we can give our students.”
— Chidiki Jones-Whitley, Assistant Teacher - Performing Arts
We invite you to review our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Plan:
View our student and faculty Diversity Roundtable, videotaped following the National Association of Independent School’s People of Color and Student Diversity Leadership Conferences in 2017:
“The Student Diversity Leadership Conference was both eye opening and intense. So many differences welcomed, connections made, and lessons learned when it comes to diversity and inclusion. I made so many friends and really got time to explore my Identity overall. I never felt so alive in my life! Truly, at this conference, I was able to find myself! I now understand the importance of self-advocacy, I'm now not afraid to speak up on what I believe in. I can't even begin to explain how beneficial this conference was to me. I was extremely happy to be around others that can understand and relate to me, and I have now opened up more with a few of my peers!”
— Lab School Junior
We recognize that being a student with a learning difference, a parent of a child with a learning difference, or an educator of a student with a learning difference is but one aspect of the identity our community members bring to Lab. Our work in diversity, equity, and inclusion grows from that starting point, and is supported by our faculty, staff, administrators, students, and parents.
Some of our initiatives include:
Work with Dr. Derrick Gay, a nationally-recognized diversity consultant to help us develop better cultural competencies and lead us in generating strategic goals for diversity and inclusivity.
Attend national and local faculty and student conferences, focused on diversity, equity, and inclusivity.
Recruit new faculty and staff at diversity hiring fairs.
Hold faculty book clubs, which feature many books on diversity and inclusivity.
Host parent meetings to discuss topics around diversity and inclusivity.
Invite speakers to talk on topics of diversity, equity, and inclusivity.
Establish several diversity-related clubs in High and Junior High School.
Integrate themes of identity and stereotypes in 9th grade English and Social Studies curricula.
Expand library to include more titles that represent different cultures and family compositions.
Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion:
Dr. Anthony Perry
Division Diversity Coordinators:
Jewell Watson-Hellkamp – High School
Amanda Palmer – Junior High
Liora Valero – Intermediate
Lauren Caldwell – Elementary
DEI Steering Committee Members:
Robert Lane, Director of Admissions
Nancy Rowland, Associate Director of Admissions
Sonya Hoffmann, Parent
Leslie Clark, Parent
Kim Wargo, Head of School
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
"This is a moral moment in our history. We must own the truth that black and brown people are not safe in our country and they are denied the opportunities promised to all Americans. The recent egregious deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd lay bare once again the reasons why. Our society built on white privilege has intentionally denied people of color pathways to education, prosperity, and safety, ignoring their enormous contributions to our country,” wrote Head of School Katherine Schantz in recent communications to The Lab School community.