On Friday afternoon, after the girls had left and I had just finished catching up with several of our staff, I walked down the hallway and paused to read a poster on a bulletin board outside the Grade 7 classrooms. The poster was of a quotation by Brené Brown, a researcher and favourite author of mine, that says, “True belonging never asks us to change who we are. True belonging requires us to be who we are.”
One of the reasons I value girls’ schools so much is that they are environments in which girls can most readily be their authentic selves. It is our hope that as our girls learn, lead, and live they are recognizing their own voices, their strengths and, indeed, their areas for growth. We know that SCS- and our broader community- has a responsibility to continually work to maintain an environment where everyone feels they belong.
I believe that belonging comes as a result of one feeling safe and comfortable in one’s community and that we get the very best from students, staff, alumnae and families when we can provide a community that enables this feeling.
Over the last many years, SCS has worked very hard to make our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion explicit. Our School’s Diversity Statement, posted alongside our mission and values around the School, states that St. Clement’s School is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion. We value each community member’s identity and well-being. Together we learn and grow by embracing multiple perspectives, experiences and cultures. Our differences are our strengths. This statement, just like our mission, informs the decisions we make, the structures we put in place, and the programming for our community.
One example of programming that we are proud of is the upcoming Race, Privilege and Community conference being held at St. Clement’s. The conference is a full-day exploration of diversity, dedicated to the in-depth analysis and discussion of issues surrounding race, privilege, equity, and inclusion in our schools and communities. Using the model created by New York-based non-profit Pollyanna, Inc. it is the first time the conference will be held in Canada.
The conference will host School teams from the GTA that will be represented by a group of twelve to fourteen people – individuals who play a role in advancing the diversity discussion in your school. These constituencies include students, faculty, administrators, Board members, parents, and alumnae/alumni.
At St. Clement’s, we are proud of our close-knit community and its powerful impact on our girls; however, we also recognize that building communities takes committed and continual work and that each individual’s sense of belonging is key to allowing a close-knit environment. We look forward to the ongoing work to ensure that our community is one in which members “are who they are.”