Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice
in the Lower School
- To intentionally support the healthy identity development of all students
- To enable all students to feel culturally sustained by their school experience
- To make it possible for all students, employees, and families to experience a consistent sense of ownership—beyond inclusion, beyond belonging—in the School community
- To equip students with the understanding and skills they need—right now and into the future—to make sense of an unequal world and work together to change it in age-appropriate ways
- To make it possible for all students to develop a sense of individual empowerment as well as a deep appreciation for the interdependence of communities, both of which are ultimately key for social change
- To support the adults in the community to work together to dismantle the systemic inequities in our institution
- To provide shared experiences, language, and sense of purpose for parents and employees
In 2019, the Milton DEI Strategic Plan ushered in a new era of DEIJ initiatives for the Lower School. Recognizing the necessity for an all-encompassing integration of DEIJ efforts throughout the community, we’ve worked diligently for the last four years to infuse every aspect of our school with a robust, interconnected approach. Highlighted below are key ongoing initiatives within the four primary focus areas, aligning with our commitment to depth, comprehensiveness, and integration:
Teaching and Learning
- The Lower School has launched a comprehensive DEIJ curriculum K–5, which addresses each of the 20 social justice standards outlined by the organization Learning for Justice. This curriculum focuses on several key areas of elementary DEIJ learning, including anti-bias concepts and skills, racial literacy, and social justice.
- Weekly time has been set aside in the K–5 schedules for this curriculum.
- Faculty and administrators work together to connect the DEIJ curriculum with students’ learning experiences in social studies, specials classes, reading, writing, and mathematics.
Community and Affinity Programming
- The Lower School offers students the option to participate in affinity groups or a community-based group, scheduled during the school day, that seeks to engage all K–5 students in age-appropriate activities related to healthy identity development.
- Faculty and Staff engage in yearly affinity facilitator training to ensure positive student experiences within the affinity group offerings.
Civic Ambassadors. Open to Lower School students of all social identities. Students in this group participate in civic initiatives and discussions (through the lens of DEIJ) that have an impact on them and our school community. Students participate in a range of developmentally appropriate dialogues about inclusion, justice, and allyship to then choose a topic and decide on a collective work, project, or initiative.
Asian American / Pacific Islander. Open to all students who identify as Asian American / Pacific Islander. This group aims to develop and affirm a positive relationship to our racial identity, nurture an understanding of the different cultures represented in the Asian diaspora, and share common experiences around growing up AAPI in the United States.
Biracial/multiracial. Open to all students who identify as having a heritage of two or more different racial groups. This group seeks to provide an opportunity to explore identity and what it means to be biracial/multiracial while deepening understanding of the individual and collective identity of the group as a whole.
Black/African American/ African Descent. Open to all students who identify as Black, African American, and of African Descent. This group seeks to build positive connections across individual cultural identities and build connections to the past and the present while deepening understanding of the individual and collective identity of the group as a whole.
Christian Affinity. Open to all students who want to explore their Christian identity. This group seeks to create a space for all students to come together to engage in important conversations, activities, and workshops.
Girls Empowerment. Open to all female-identified students. This group seeks to create a space for all female-identifying students to come together to engage in important conversations, activities, and workshops regarding female empowerment.
Jewish Affinity. Open to all students who want to explore their Jewish identity. This group seeks to create a space for all students to come together to engage in important conversations, activities, and workshops.
Learning Diversity. Open to students with learning differences. In addition to creating community and sharing individual stories, this group aims to explore our own learning styles and create wholesome connections.
Latinx/Hispanic Heritage. Open to students who identify as Latinx/Hispanic. This group seeks to foster a strong sense of community by promoting the cultural vibrancy of Latin America and other Spanish-speaking countries. Students will explore their own identities and shared experiences as it relate to their own culturally diverse backgrounds as well as gain a better understanding of how to relate to others in new and healthy ways.
South Asian & Middle Eastern Affinity Group. Open to all students who are from one of the Middle Eastern countries and/or have Middle Eastern heritage & South Asian identity. This group will include diverse students who seek to build relationships and connections through shared traditions, history, food, and culture.
White Identified. Open to all white-identified students. Through storytelling, cultivating empathy, and forming close relationships, this group explores identity and what it means to create an equitable, and inclusive community. Students will engage in a variety of age-appropriate discussions related to inclusion, justice, and allyship.
- Lower School faculty, staff, and administrators have engaged in several forms of professional development designed to prepare them to facilitate student affinity groups and implement DEIJ curriculum effectively in the classroom.
- Jaci Nelson, DEIJ practitioner, has provided a yearly series of affinity group facilitator training for all Lower School employees.
- With a focus on parent engagement, the Lower School has been able to provide multiple checkpoints for parents to understand the purposes of DEIJ work in the Lower School, especially as it relates to their children. These checkpoints have included grade-level parent meetings, parent affinity spaces, and speaker series. We will be able to continue to offer checkpoints throughout this school year.
- Parent/Guardian Affinity Groups: The goal of this program is to provide opportunities for individuals who want to connect with others who share an aspect of their identity. All Milton families are welcome to attend and participate.
- Parent DEIJ Leadership Team is comprised of Lower School Milton parents/guardians who dedicate their time in collaboration with the administration to advancing DEIJ work in the community. The group of committed individuals has informed policy decisions and provided opportunities for family engagement through events and educational events. All are welcome to join.