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Together 11.4.22

November 4, 2022 | Nancy Van Epps

by Head of School, Abby Hall Choi

This is our third post where I share the work we have accomplished under our current strategic plan! 

In the introductory discussion, I outlined the collaborative strategic planning process and our charge to reword our mission statement. Read more here!

In the second post, I shared the further development of our Extended Day Program, and how that thinking led to interesting ideas like piloting a toddler class and including enrichment activities. We also implemented a clarification of MSS’s marketing differentiators and a branding and identity update. 

This week we look at the charge and work that has resulted in our DEIB statement! 

Charge: Engage in professional development, continuing to enhance staff cultural competencies.

The work that has blossomed under this charge has been far more formative than we could have imagined—that is the beauty of a school community open to new learning. As we expanded our understanding of cultural competencies, we realized that much more learning and work were needed to truly know and care together.

In the early summer of 2020, this endeavor started to take shape under the umbrella of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB). We came to more fully understand the need for staff-wide development and organizational change. Over the summer of 2020, the leadership team envisioned a new leadership role: Director of DEIB to lead this change. Tania Oro-Hahn agreed to bolster her leadership role and serve as Mustard Seed’s first Director of DEIB. 

In December of 2021, the board of trustees adopted our DEIB statement. The statement emerged from this realization that we needed more clarity and transparency as a school around the many aspects of diversity that we sought to celebrate.

For the last few years, staff have continually been invited and challenged, both through Tania’s all-staff, team-specific, affinity group, and through individual meetings, to be better attuned to the reality and impact of unchecked bias and racism.  

In addition to training and experiences targeting the staff’s personal development, we have also implemented curricular applications including the celebrations of Black History Month and Juneteenth. We worked to provide staff with tools to aid independent assessment and curriculum development that celebrates diversity and actively seeks ways to increase feelings of welcome and belonging.

In fall of 2022, Tania inaugurated the Changemakers Leadership group: a queer-affirming and anti-racist student group with the goal of impacting school culture and meeting the Hoboken community’s needs.  You can read their charge here!

In addition to photos of happenings around the school this week, I’ll close with a charming video created by Early Childhood & Lower School Visual Arts Teacher, Mr. Johnson. Have a wonderful weekend!

Nancy Van Epps

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