We provide opportunities for student and adult community members to learn more about their own identities and push outside their comfort zones to consider life experiences and perspectives that challenge and stretch them. We work to ensure that students feel included in the life of the School and develop a deep sense of belonging to a community of people committed to their growth.
New Student Orientation Program
In the fall of 2019, we launched a redesign of our new student Transition Program to focus on building community and understanding identity and culture. All students should be seen and embraced for the many parts of themselves and the range of identities they hold, and to feel they are an integral part of the culture of our School. To accomplish this goal, we believe that all members of our community must be engaged in exploration, conversation and learning about issues of identity, culture, and forms of oppression, including racism in the United States. Through better understanding ourselves, validating and engaging with others, and working together to both learn and offer perspectives, we increase the appreciation for the unique community we have.
At the end of August before the arrival of returning students, all new Upper School students traditionally spend three days living and learning together on campus. The new student program works to: ensure all new students understand they are an integral part of Milton’s culture and are seen for the range of identities they hold; help new students develop a sense of belonging at Milton; foster a community of inclusivity, openness, growth, respect and understanding for new students; recognize and celebrate a range of affinity identities; encourage connections and community across identities; provide new students with resources, guidance, and support as they explore their identities; build a common language for important concepts, such as identity, diversity, inclusion, etc.; and begin to offer the tools and best practices for healthy cross-cultural interactions.
Faculty and Staff Education and Training
Adults are critical models, teachers, mentors, coaches, and advocates for our students. Milton is committed to ensuring that we have adults in our community who mirror the student population, in whom students can seek connection and support. Approximately twenty-six percent of our Upper School faculty identify as people of color and serve as important models for all of our students, who benefit from a diverse group of dedicated educators and mentors.
Adults in the Milton community are committed to our ongoing learning. Faculty and staff engage in regular diversity, equity, and inclusion training that ranges from broad issues —such as anti-bias work and understanding and interrupting microaggressions—to more focused exercises related to their content areas, roles, and areas of personal development and interest. Training sessions are typically conducted by external experts to address pertinent issues of understanding and meeting student needs, building a community of informed and cooperating adults, and keeping up to date with larger issues that arise in our world. Internal enrichment opportunities include affinity spaces for faculty and staff of color, LGBTQ+ faculty and staff, AWARE (Alliance of White Anti-Racist Educators), and the SEED (Seeking Equity and Educational Diversity) book and discussion group. Faculty and staff are also encouraged to regularly participate in local and national conferences exploring this subject matter.
Throughout the academic year, Milton holds weekly assemblies. These community conversations range from visits by outside speakers to assemblies hosted by student groups and the Diversity Office. Assemblies are designed to educate the community on issues of interest and concern and often focus on fostering mutual respect and personal responsibility.
Host Family Program
The Host Family Program is designed to support new boarding students as they become comfortable in their “home away from home.” During their transition to boarding life, students may experience loneliness or miss the haven of a family home away from the busyness of campus life. The host family, most often a family of a day student or nearby boarding student, helps make that transition easier. The program is flexible, based on a student’s need for support and what a particular host family is able to provide.
Social Justice and Diversity Education
Students interested in more fully exploring issues of identity and social justice may apply for funding to participate in various student conferences, including the National Association of Independent School Student Diversity Leadership Conference, the Association of Independent Schools of New England’s Students of Color Conference, the White Privilege Conference, and the CitySchool Student Social Justice Leadership Program. Through intensive discussion and multi-day experiences, students develop skills in advocacy and learn how to strengthen such work on campus.
Social Justice Peer Educators
The Social Justice Peer Educator (SJPE) program pairs seniors with faculty members to co-lead Milton’s Class II Social Awareness class. SJPE participants demonstrate a strong desire to serve as community educators and counsel and support their peers on issues of culture and identity.