Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Update September 2021

“Building a community that lives its values of love, respect and celebration of our differences is a place we inhabit, not a job we finish. Love never finishes its work. Respect is never completed. Celebration of difference does not have an end date. It is perpetual."

- Pace Academy, Answering the Call for Racial Equity, June 25, 2020

The overarching goal of Pace Academy’s Action Plan for Racial Equity is to ensure that all students feel welcome and loved—from the time they enter Pre-First to when they walk across the stage at commencement and beyond. 

 

Listening & Learning 


All members of our community must have the capacity to engage in a manner that demonstrates fluency and strong capabilities to address matters of race, diversity, equity and inclusion. Direct support will be provided by way of training and professional development.

 

  • As an innovative, forward-thinking school, Pace is committed to building a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment where all community members are accepted for who they are. Pace is dedicated to teaching the whole child, and it is essential that students feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to school. We have partnered with Authentic Connections to conduct a school climate assessment survey in the fall of 2021. The data collected will inform our initiatives and help identify areas of need and support. 
     
  • During the pre-planning week, faculty and staff attended professional development sessions on topics such as culturally responsive teaching, facilitating classroom conversations, standards-based assessments and equity, and educator self care.
     
  • Faculty also received division-specific DEI training during pre-planning. Lower School faculty took part in a one-day workshop from Responsive Classroom, which provides a student-centered, social and emotional learning approach to teaching and discipline. The approach incorporates evidence-based practices designed to create safe, joyful, and engaging classrooms and school communities for both students and teachers, keeping in mind that what we know and believe about our students—individually, culturally, developmentally—informs our expectations, reactions and attitudes about those students.

Teaching & Curriculum


To become prepared, confident citizens of the world, students must be taught from an antiracist curriculum, one that is factually accurate, includes multiple perspectives and inspires critical thinking. 

  • Throughout the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year, faculty and staff received resources and support related to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) work and were offered opportunities to take part in summer workshops and professional development. Faculty and staff will continue to receive the training and professional development necessary to implement evidence-based practices that support academic excellence and culturally responsive teaching. 
     
  • Faculty and staff launched the 2021-2022 school year with a keynote address from Kevin McDonald, Vice President of Diversity Equity and Inclusion at the University of Virginia. McDonald highlighted the importance of equity and inclusion in higher education and addressed how the work we do at Pace builds a foundation for students and leads to their success at the collegiate level. During the pre-planning week, faculty and staff attended professional development sessions on topics such as culturally responsive teaching, facilitating classroom conversations, standards-based assessments and equity, and educator self care.
     
  • This year's DEI theme: "Affirm the work. Acknowledge the growth. Advance the mission." was introduced to faculty and staff during preplanning.
     
  • Faculty also received division-specific DEI training during pre-planning. Lower School faculty took part in a one-day workshop from Responsive Classroom, which provides a student-centered, social and emotional learning approach to teaching and discipline. The approach incorporates evidence-based practices designed to create safe, joyful, and engaging classrooms and school communities for both students and teachers, keeping in mind that what we know and believe about our students—individually, culturally, developmentally—informs our expectations, reactions and attitudes about those students.
     
  • The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion provided training on best practices for supporting high academic achievement for all students to Middle and Upper School faculty.

 

OUR COMMUNITY 


Pace is grounded in the core value of respect for others and their unique ideas and beliefs. There is no place for hate in our school community.

  • Lower School students in grades three, four and five were invited to register for after-school affinity groups. We spent a year developing age-appropriate affinity group programming using models from local Atlanta-area schools and best practices from NAIS schools. Lower School participants had authentic conversations about their lives and learned skills to better engage in conversations about themselves and others. Students learned that positive self-esteem is important and can be developed. They enjoyed robust discussions by asking questions respectfully and listening carefully to learn about other’s lives and experiences.

  • Administrators in each division and the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) team attended professional development programs around restorative practices. Restorative practices seek to repair relationships by addressing root causes and providing long-term support to avoid future incidents of harm. Faculty and staff examined how some of these principles can assist in bringing community together, developing community standards and responding thoughtfully to disciplinary incidents.

 

 

OUR PEOPLE 


To foster a sense of belonging in our school community, all students must see themselves reflected in our leadership, faculty and staff, and must experience meaningful, intentional and authentic support.

The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) has grown to support the important work of building community at Pace. For the 2021-2022 school year, the Office of DEI includes two full-time staff members and stipended coordinators in each division:

Joanne Beauvoir Brown

Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer

Nirvana Kelly Scott

Director of Equity and Inclusion

Amy Underwood

LS Director of Curriculum and Professional Development, Lower School Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Coordinator

Ashley Zomalt

LS Counselor, Lower School Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Coordinator

Ashley Clay

MS Counselor, Middle School Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Coordinator

Scott Shupe

MS History Teacher, Middle School Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Coordinator

Nikki McCrary

Administrative Assistant to Head of US, US Transitions Advisor, Upper School Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Coordinator

Duke Sherrell

US History Teacher, Upper School Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Coordinator

  • We saw an increase in Black, Indigenous or People of Color (BIPOC) candidates in a very competitive applicant pool. Following a national search and rigorous interviews, 31% of all new hires are BIPOC, and we were pleased to offer internal promotions to BIPOC faculty and staff.

  • Candidates learned about our Action Plan for Racial Equity during the interview process. Many candidates had already researched our commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion and commented on the clear public commitment to our values. Our dedication to the necessary work of racial equity was a primary reason that we received applications from hundreds of candidates nationwide. We received consistent, positive feedback from candidates regarding our Action Plan for Racial Equity.

JOINING OUR COMMUNITY 


The percentage of students of color at Pace has increased in the 2021-2022 school year. Students of color represent 34% of Lower School students, 26% of Middle School students and 30% of Upper School students. 

OUR PLEDGE 


As school leaders, we recognize that it is our responsibility to address this work for the benefit of all—but we cannot do so without committed partners.

  • We fulfilled our commitment to affinity groups in all divisions. We will continue to develop affinity group programming to support all students.
     
  • The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) subcommittee of the Board of Trustees worked with the DEI Office over the course of the 2020-2021 school year. All members have committed to serving during the 2021-2022 year.

  • The Board of Trustees has approved the inclusion of a DEI pillar in the school’s forthcoming strategic plan.

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