diversity and Inclusivity

A Collective Sense of Purpose and Commitment

At Hewitt, diversity and inclusivity stand as foundational commitments that guide every aspect of teaching and learning. These institutional values inform our pedagogy, foster personal growth, and cultivate belonging. We believe that a diverse and inclusive community is essential to educating girls and young women to be positive contributors and citizens of the world.

Jacqueline Nelson, Director of Diversity and Inclusivity

Hewitt empowers and expects our community members to embrace multiple points of view, to engage others with empathy and integrity, and to champion equity and justice in all areas of our lives.

Hewitt’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity is, at its core, about empowering girls and their families to bring their whole selves to the Hewitt community.
Dr. Tara Christie Kinsey, Head of School

At Hewitt, we understand the importance of listening to one another’s stories. By acknowledging, appreciating, and celebrating differences, we continue to develop an empathetic community of global citizens.
Jacqueline Nelson, Director of Diversity and Inclusivity

Diversity & Inclusivity Programs

At Hewitt, we recognize that the work of creating a more diverse and inclusive community is ever evolving, never completed, often difficult, and deeply rewarding. All diversity and inclusivity initiatives at Hewitt ask the community to remain fully present, develop empathy, establish a collective purpose, and employ research-based practices for educating girls in a richly varied and globally interconnected world.

Diversity and Inclusivity Steering Committee

Chaired by our Director of Diversity and Inclusivity and comprised of faculty and staff from across divisions and departments, the Diversity and Inclusivity Committee (DISC) leads the Hewitt community in establishing a more empathetic and equitable school culture by guiding conversations about diversity and inclusivity, organizing community events, collecting and sharing stories that reveal who we are, and promoting a pedagogy of anti-bias education. The DISC is committed to facilitating ongoing conversations within the community, establishing community norms, and creating a sense of trust and vulnerability.

Activists and Allies

Activists and Allies community events are open to all faculty and staff who identify as or are interested in becoming activists, advocates, and/or allies for social justice. Participants gather to engage in courageous conversation and collective work towards becoming upstanders in our community and beyond.

EDIT Book Club

The E.D.I.T (Equity, Diversity, Identity, Talk) book club is open to all faculty and staff. Initially a lower school initiative, each division now hosts its own E.D.I.T club. In addition to reading adult literature, these book clubs engage with articles and research related to educational themes and issues relevant to our students. As part of Hewitt’s commitment to community engagement, parents are also invited to participate in targeted book discussions.

National SEED Project

Inspired by the ongoing work of the National SEED Project (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity), Hewitt’s SEED group comes together once a month to listen, reflect, share, learn, and build a stronger, more inclusive school culture. Together, SEED participants explore how to support the Hewitt community by deepening self-awareness, expanding the knowledge of others, analyzing the world, and becoming leaders who work to make Hewitt a more conscious, equitable, aware, and informed institution.

SEED work engages the head, heart, and soul. Participants develop ways of understanding race, class, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability/disability, and cultural experience.

Workshops and Conferences

Hewitt has long partnered with experts in the field of educational equity and inclusion. We maintain ongoing relationships with professional organizations like Border Crossers and CARLE Institute (Critical Analysis of Race in Learning and Education), host our own SEED group, and send a cohort of faculty, staff, and students to the annual NYSAIS Diversity ConferenceNAIS People of Color Conference, and Student Diversity Leadership Council.

An Inclusive Continuum

Hewitt maintains a proportional, curricular, and interactional commitment to diversity. Our enrollment demographic increasingly reflects the diversity of New York City, our classes engage vital questions of inclusion, equity, and social justice, and our intimate community ensures proximity to difference, inspiring students to form meaningful relationships with students from other schools and every walk of life.

Lower School

Starting in lower school, our K-12 program affirms the tremendous impact of diversity and inclusivity work on healthy identity development and cross-cultural relationship building. In our lower school social studies curriculum, essential questions help girls think critically about their individual identities, celebrate cultural diversity, and challenge assumptions and stereotypes.

Middle School

Throughout middle school and across disciplines, girls consider global histories and traditionally marginalized communities and develop a more historical perspective through the study of social hierarchies. Meanwhile, our English curriculum incorporates voices from a wide breadth of cultures and experiences, and the languages department incorporates the voices of writers from across the Spanish-speaking and Francophone world.

Upper School

As students enter the upper school, they consider their future place in the world and take on leadership roles. We challenge young women at Hewitt to consider multiple perspectives as they explore everything from feminism to globalization, current events to ancient civilizations.

Special programming in the upper school tackles such topics as the objectification and commercialization of women through the cosmetic and dieting industries; institutionalized racism as evidenced in the mass incarceration of people of color; the spectrum of gender identification; and the meaning of consent for women.

Student leaders and activists shape the nature of these nuanced and complex conversations and provide student-facilitated discussion groups on issues of relevance to young women today. We encourage upper school students to take a stance on matters they find important, from proposing affinity spaces to participating in marches, writing to elected officials, or attending local and national conferences, including DAIS (Diversity Awareness Initiatives for Students) and SDLC (Student Diversity Leadership Conference).

Windows and Mirrors: Celebrating Diversity & Inclusivity at Hewitt

Teaching Anti-Bias Education Through Me, You, & We
Jacqueline Nelson, Director of Diversity and Inclusivity

Hewitt’s efforts to foster an appreciation for diversity and inclusivity begin in the lower school, where every student participates in Me, You, & We, a curriculum that aims to teach students in kindergarten through fourth grade how to respect one another’s unique perspectives while approaching each other with kindness and cultural awareness. I developed Hewitt’s Me, You, & We framework in collaboration with our lower school faculty members, and each lesson introduces new classroom conversations and activities that provide both “windows and mirrors” through which girls are able to consider the perspectives of others and reflect on their own experiences.  

Inspired by the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s Anti-bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves, Me, You, & We aims to promote anti-bias education by exploring human diversity, building a positive sense of self, and promoting caring human connections. Supported by deliberate and scaffolded discussion prompts and scenarios that encourage self reflection, lower school students are learning to recognize unfairness and stereotypes, consider their own misconceptions, and stand up for what is right in the face of prejudice.

Consistent with the philosophy of emergent curriculum, which focuses on teachers being responsive to students’ interests, Me, You, & We is designed to further cultivate our students’ curiosity. Each Me, You, & We meeting starts with a series of carefully considered questions for the class to discuss as part of their community building efforts and/or social studies explorations. Over the course of the year these questions center around specific themes including culture and language, physical attributes and abilities, communities and class, and family structures and values. Through conversations about each of these topics, teachers are able to identify what their students already know about their various social identities (e.g. ability, beliefs, culture, ethnicity, family composition, gender, language, race, religion, socioeconomic class, etc. ) and discern misinformation and knowledge gaps. Generative classroom discussions, activities, and read-alouds give lower school teachers a chance to take note of discussion highlights and student questions, which they use to develop in-depth lessons that feel meaningful and personal to their students.  

This year’s Me, You, & We classroom conversations began by asking lower school students questions like: “What does it mean to be a girl?” and “What do girls do?” Each class then watched and reacted to the Like A Girl video from the Always advertising campaign, which elicited a range of responses including exclamations of outrage over perceived stereotypes and notable upset that girls would be characterized as anything less than, as one second grader put it, “smart, mindful, strong, and fast.” Over the course of their developmentally appropriate conversations, each class extended their learning by coming up with their own definitions for words like “stereotype” and “assumptions.” To help reinforce these concepts, each class was also invited to take stock of their individual classroom libraries, noticing books that had characters who looked or lived the way they do as well as those that presented negative depictions or stereotypes about different people. The connections and observations the girls were able to make during these activities proved to be both affirming and empowering for them. 

According to Julie Olsen Edwards and Louise Derman-Sparks, the authors of Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves, “Adults have the power to create, to teach, to maintain bias - and to eliminate it.” As such, the lower school faculty members leading Me, You, & We devote time to reflecting and thinking critically about their own behaviors, beliefs, and biases as they apply to a given discussion. During a reflection on the topic of gender and stereotypes, one classroom teacher noted, “...it makes me wonder what ideas and/or limits are buried in my mind from growing up.” Another shared, “A lot of students think that girls are meant to be certain things and vice versa. I was proud when other students spoke up against those stereotypes.” For a community of educators who value lifelong learning, Me, You, & We is a wonderful way to model for students what it means to be curious and feel comfortable asking questions that may not be easy to answer.  Me, You, & We engages our youngest girls in a developmentally appropriate introduction to important diversity and inclusivity themes, while also preparing them to get involved in our middle and upper school efforts to promote equity awareness and social justice activism.