writings and Reflections

A Call to Action: Anti-Racism at Hewitt
Tara Christie Kinsey, Suzanne Baillie, and Juan Sabater

Dear Hewitt Community,

Over the last few weeks, like many schools and organizations across the country, we have been engaging in painful but honest, productive, and necessary conversations about the structural changes necessary for The Hewitt School to confront systemic racism and put the words of our diversity and inclusivity statement and our mission into action. We have spoken with students, faculty and staff, parents and guardians, and alumnae. In these conversations, we heard and read about the overt and covert racism that people of color--in particular our black community members--have endured. On behalf of the institution, we wish to apologize for the pain, intolerance, and racial trauma that black, indigenous, and people of color have endured and continue to endure at Hewitt. 

We also have heard from our current students--both students of color as well as white students--who are urging the school to take action and who have expressed their unwavering commitment to partner with school faculty and administration in identifying action steps to address institutionalized racism both in the world and at Hewitt. Our students’ call to action and their desire to "create a community working in tandem against racism" gives us hope for the future, and it will be an honor and a privilege to work alongside our students, and the entire community, to do the hard, necessary, and important work ahead. It is with our students’ sense of urgency, energy, and hope that we write to you to share how the School will be responding to the call to action to make Hewitt an actively anti-racist institution. 

Hewitt will develop an Anti-Racism Action Plan to be presented to the Board of Trustees in November 2020. The plan will be developed by an Anti-Racism Task Force chaired by the head of school and co-chairs of the Board of Trustees, and will include our director of equity and community life, three students, two alumnae, two parents, two faculty members, two staff members, and two trustees. The task force will be charged with working in collaboration with the new Equity and Community Life Committee of the Board to evaluate and recommend schoolwide protocols, policies, systems, and infrastructure to ensure that Hewitt becomes an actively anti-racist school. The Anti-Racism Task Force will work through the summer and fall to develop and make formal recommendations in November to the Board of Trustees in the following areas:

COMMUNITY & CARE

  • Increase the proportional diversity of our student population, especially racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity
  • Attract and retain an increasingly diverse professional community, especially within the faculty and leadership of the School
  • Require ongoing professional development around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and require all faculty and staff to be formally evaluated on their effectiveness in upholding Hewitt’s DEI goals
  • Increase the level of care for students of color through counseling and mentorship support

PEDAGOGY & CURRICULUM

  • Deepen efforts to embrace culturally responsive teaching practices and a K-12 curriculum that promotes empathy, racial literacy, and perspective taking
  • Expand the lower school anti-bias curriculum into middle and upper school as a requirement for all students
  • Audit K-12 curriculum and embed social justice and anti-racist standards into the entire curricular scope and sequence 
  • Redesign curriculum night to provide all families with a clear understanding of the school’s anti-bias goals and culturally responsive pedagogy and curriculum

LEADERSHIP & GOVERNANCE

  • Further increase the proportional diversity of the Board of Trustees, especially racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity
  • Following the Board of Trustees’ lead, require all Hewitt volunteers (including Parents’ Association, Alumnae Council, and admissions volunteers) to further increase their proportional diversity and complete mandatory anti-bias and anti-racist training
  • Request all parents and guardians to complete a diversity, equity, and inclusion workshop provided by the School to ensure a common vocabulary and framework around the School’s commitment to equity and inclusion; it is our expectation that all Hewitt families will embrace our diversity, equity and inclusion objectives, informed by the mission and objectives of our school
  • Revise all student and employee handbooks, as well as enrollment contracts with parents and guardians, to include restorative justice policies and disciplinary procedures
  • Conduct a formal evaluation of all school traditions, symbols, and institutional lexicon to ensure alignment with the School’s commitment to equity and inclusion 
  • Deliver an annual state of the school address to the full community to provide data, transparency, and accountability for the School’s progress toward specific and measurable goals related to equity and inclusion

These are the necessary next steps, and we look forward to keeping the community apprised of our progress along the way. For those interested in being a part of the Anti-Racism Task Force, please look for an application which will be emailed shortly. 

Earlier this year, we launched a new mission to “inspire girls and young women to become game changers and ethical leaders who forge an equitable, sustainable, and joyous future.” We know that the words of our mission are only as meaningful as our ability to live those words in the everyday and put them into action. We also know that to fully realize our mission of forging a more equitable future beyond Hewitt, we must first address systemic racism within Hewitt by putting into place new, comprehensive systems and structures.

In the words of our student leaders: “We are devoted to...the importance of actively being anti-racist...in both our world and school. Our community MUST speak out against racial injustice in our nation. Hewitt can no longer sugarcoat our country’s truth for the comfort of our students and parents.” We unequivocally agree, and we look forward to working together to bring about the change we seek, for our school and our world. Together, with everyone’s commitment, we will build a Hewitt--and a world--that works better for all, not just some.

Sincerely,

Suzanne Baillie, Co-Chair, Board of Trustees
Juan Sabater, Co-Chair, Board of Trustees
Tara Christie Kinsey, Head of School

 

Dr. Kinsey and the co-chairs of the Board of Trustees sent this message to the Hewitt community on June 12, 2020.

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