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About SJS

Community and Inclusion

Dear St. John's Community,

The 2019-2020 academic year was the first year of implementation of the SJS Strategic Plan for Community and Inclusion. Senior leadership identified specific areas of focus, and below we would like to share with you the goals and achievements. The SJS Strategic Plan for Community and Inclusion can also be found in its entirety on this page. We look forward to updating you on the progress and goals for the 2020-2021 academic year.


Mark Desjardins and Gene Batiste

Spring 2020 Update

Strategic Plan for Community & Inclusion Report
St. John’s School
  1. Expanded Community & Inclusion Leadership
    1. At the close of the 2018-2019 school year, St. John’s senior administrators established the Community & Inclusion Faculty Associates Team, a leadership program designed to build a cohort of faculty representing each division to work with the division heads and Gene Batiste to implement the three overarching goals of the Community & Inclusion Strategic Plan. The school invested professional development funds for summer training at nationally recognized conferences for the seven Community & Inclusion Faculty Associates’ two-year commitment along with providing a modest stipend. The Associates meet regularly with their division head and Gene Batiste to plan and deliver community & inclusion faculty forums, to gather and send community & inclusion spotlight features focused on best practices for diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) in teaching and learning, and to collect and distribute DEIB resources relevant to each division.
    2. At the close of the 2018-2019 school year, St. John’s senior administrators also established the Community & Inclusion Parents Committee. Twenty-two parents, representing the three divisions of the school, meet monthly with Gene Batiste to plan and deliver parent education and engagement programs for the entire St. John’s parent community. Following an evening of training on best practices in DEIB for independent schools and a study of St. John’s Statement on Community & Inclusion through the lens of the parent community, the committee developed a statement of purpose, brainstormed parent needs and opportunities for DEIB education and engagement, and developed three sets of parent engagement events to be offered both in the morning and evening for 2019-2020.
  1. Goal #1 – Create an Inclusive and Equitable Campus Climate
2019-2020 Focus – (1) Develop and refine social/emotional learning (SEL) across divisions. (2) Examine welcoming practices. (3) Affiliate with regional and national organizations that align with St. John’s Statement on Community & Inclusion. (4) Coordinate and sponsor educational training programming for St. John’s parents.
Goal #1 Accomplishments and Highlights in 2019-2020
  • Hosted the 2019 summer Institute for Social and Emotional Learning for K-12 Educators, Counselors, and Administrators with St. John’s participation.
  • Joined the research work of Challenge Success based at Stanford University.
  • Established new guidelines related to the N-Word throughout all three divisions and throughout the St. John’s community.
  • N-Word and Words That Hurt professional development forums to all faculty and staff (including all non-teaching and support staff) facilitated by Community & Inclusion Faculty Associates and Gene Batiste.
  • The Art of Community presentation to the Parents Guild Executive Board.
  • Parents Guild book discussions of Olusa’s So You Want to Talk About Race facilitated by Community & Inclusion Parent Committee members and Gene Batiste.
  • Agreed to host the second ISAS Diversity Conference for fall 2020.
  • Eleven faculty/staff and six students delegation to NAIS’s PoCC/SDLC in Seattle, WA.
  • First ever Lower School Chapel celebration of Diwali.
  • Upper School affinity groups featured with student-made posters for Upper School Open House.
  • Establishment of a second affinity group for faculty to add to the Faculty of Color Affinity Group (FOCAG). The new affinity group, for LGBT faculty, is called GLOW (not an acronym).
  • Mark Desjardins and Gene Batiste co-presented for the opening session of the ISAS Diversity Conference on reimagining the head of school/chief diversity officer relationship.
  • Expanded work on DEIB for the Class Nine retreat adding Upper School Community & Inclusion Faculty Associates as co-facilitators.
  • The addition of the tenth Upper School affinity group – The Middle East North Africa Affinity Group (MENA).
  • Upper School advisory video presentation on hurtful language produced by the Unity Council.
  • Establishment of a robust after-school care program for Lower School students and families.
  1. Goal #2 – Recruit, Retain, and Develop a Diverse Community
2019-2020 Focus – Tools and strategies to improve search and hiring processes for faculty of color and other underrepresented groups
Goal #2 Accomplishments and Highlights in 2019-2020
  • New Middle School Head – Asian American.
  • One internal promotion – Lower School Reading Specialist, Asian American (not announced).
  • 18 new faculty hires (to date) including two African Americans, four Latinx American, and one Multiracial American, as well as other underrepresented cultural identifiers. Note that a number of searches are still in process that includes candidates of color. Overall increase in the number of candidates of color for faculty searches.
  • St. John’s will join the Pipeline Collaborative, an association of peer schools focused on recruiting and retaining faculty of color.
  • Hosted a national NEMNET faculty recruitment workshop with Chris Curran participating.
  • Hosted a second Open House of faculty recruitment with over 50 participants.
  • 2020-2021 Student Demographics by Class total, underrepresented race/ethnicity (self-reported) and Summary
Kindergarten – 42 total, 11 students of color (26.2%)
Class One – 64 total, 30 students of color (46.9%)
Class Two – 65 total, 38 students of color (43.1%)
Class Three – 65 total, 23 students of color (35.4%)
Class Four – 65 total, 30 students of color (46.2%)
Class Five – 66 total, 26 students of color (39.4%)
Lower School – 367 total, students of color 40.3%
Class Six – 123 total, 65 students of color (52.8%)
Class Seven – 118 total, 69 students of color (58.5%)
Class Eight – 119 total, 54 students of color (45.4%)
Middle School – 360 total, students of color 52.2%
Class Nine – 177 total, 83 students of color (46.9%)
Class Ten – 171 total, 72 students of color (42.1%)
Class Eleven – 174 total, 75 students of color (43.1%)
Class Twelve – 174 total, 65 students of color (37.4%)
Upper School – 696 total, students of color 42.4%
Summary – 1423 total, students of color 44.3%
  1. Goal #3 – Support Inclusive and Innovative Teaching and Learning
2019-2020 Focus – (1) Curriculum development reflecting diverse range of experiences. (2) Faculty forums and other professional development activities.
Goal #3 Accomplishments and Highlights for 2019-2020
  • Faculty summer reading choices and opening of school included DEIB works including Blind Spot, Born a Crime, Under Pressure, and White Fragility.
  • Ongoing curriculum review in all divisions for inclusive voices focused on “windows and mirrors”.
  • Lower, Middle, and Upper School faculty forum on identity and racial literacy.
  • Lower, Middle, and Upper School faculty forum on the N-Word and Words That Hurt.
  • Middle School faculty forum on inclusive practices for the Winter Holidays.
  • Middle School Community & Inclusion Spotlight on Black History Month and Equity in Grading.
  • Upper School faculty forum based on a chapter in White Fragility.
  • Upper School Community & Inclusion Spotlight on the 2019 presidential impeachment and use of the word “lynching”.
  • Lower School Community & Inclusion Spotlights on inclusive practices for the Winter Holidays, Lunar New Year, and how African Americans changed the world.

Strategic Plan for Community and Inclusion

Overarching Goal #1
  1. Continue to refine faculty advisor program within context of each division to ensure that every student is “known and loved.”
  2. Continue to develop and refine social and emotional learning programs/curriculum across all three divisions that reinforce and emphasize for students the St. John’s cardinal precepts of care.
    1. Continue to seek out existing and or new national organizations that align with St. John’s School statement of Community and Inclusion.
    2. Specifically develop programming around the skill and mindset of “listening with empathy.”
    3. Develop, sponsor and promote “seminar” programs and workshops to be held at St. John’s that can foster dialogue and discussion over the critical issues related to strengthening community and inclusion policies and programs for both independent schools and other not for profit organizations.
      1. Provide programming and experiences to encourage parent engagement in cultural competency
      2. Increase resources and commitment to becoming an established presence for faculty, staff and students at the NAIS People of Color and Student Diversity Leadership Conference.
      3. Board of Trustees will create a standing committee to address and monitor school’s progress related to Community and Inclusion strategic plan and be a resource of support and feedback to the school administration in addressing issue related to community and inclusion.
      4. Continue to examine school traditions, rituals, ceremonies and other daily practices to insure that all students and parents feel welcomed and empowered to belong.
        1. Examine the extent to which before and after school program offerings in Lower and Middle School are conducive to supporting the enrollment and retention of dual working parents and/ or single parents
        2. Continue to sustain, support and empower student affinity groups in the Upper School, and the appropriate equivalent, in Lower and Middle School with the intent that peer to peer relationships, dialogue and discussions on matters related to community and inclusion can be a powerful teaching tool.
        3. Identify and develop programming involving alumni (from underrepresented groups or otherwise) whose experiences and background provide inspiring examples that will support, promote, and strengthen the school’s community and inclusion efforts, including profiling their accomplishments on the web-site on in the Update Magazine.
        4. Examine ways to use the alumni board as a way to identify and engage alumni of color and alumni from other underrepresented groups with the long term goal of achieving similar or higher diversity ratios as Board of Trustees.
        5. Coordinate and sponsor interactive educational training programming for St. John’s parents around issues of equity and inclusion especially as it relates to the values embedded within the St. John’s School statement on Community and Inclusion.
Overarching Goal #2
  1. Realign admission office personnel to allow greater outreach and access to those communities and families who might otherwise not consider St. John’s as a viable education option.
    1. Ensure that support programs exist to successfully on-board and retain these students and families.
    2. Continue to work toward the continued recruitment of a student body that reflects the diversity of Houston.
      1. Promote our core values and statement on Community and Inclusion through effective storytelling and communication within and beyond the St. John’s community.
      2. Continue to expand and explore mechanisms by which outreach and marketing can target underrepresented populations within our school community.
  1. Develop new tools and strategies to improve hiring and search processes for faculty and staff of color and those from underrepresented groups including building relationships between St. John’s community an local, regional and national networks and organizations representing diverse constituencies
    1. Continue to revise, shape and evaluate retention efforts for all faculty and staff, including faculty and staff of color as well as those from other underrepresented groups.
    2. Include diversity, inclusion and multicultural competency in appropriate faculty, staff and administrator interview hiring questions.
    3. Develop strategies and incentives to encourage all employees to participate in community and inclusion workshops, programming and events.
    4. Recruit continuously—not simply when there are openings. Maintain professional networks and make note of potential candidates from underrepresented populations. When possible, work to build and develop relationships with those potential candidates
Overarching Goal #3
  1. Define a St. John’s theoretical framework for multicultural education and distribute this framework to our community, explaining why we are valuing these goals.
    1. Develop benchmarks to guide curriculum development and implementation progress based on the school’s theoretical framework for multicultural education.
  1. Continue to develop and embed intellectual inquiry that will ensure that diversity, equity and inclusion are foundational aspects of our educational program
  2. Continue to make the assessment of multi-cultural education teaching and learning a vital component of the school’s curricular and co-curricular audit program. Catalog specific recommendations related to cultural awareness and inclusivity and develop specific action programs to address those issues, and continue to test progress in these areas during the comprehensive audit programs.
  3. Continue to support curriculum development and teaching to ensure it reflects a diverse range of experiences and includes a range of materials and viewpoints that represent a variety of viewpoints and peoples.
    1. Create forums for faculty across all divisions to utilize in-house training to enhance awareness and understanding of best practices in regards to teaching within a diverse community.
    2. Support and sponsor professional development activities that align with the school’s goals and vision for community and inclusion.
    3. Support and provide on-going faculty training and guidance in directing controversial conversations within the classroom and allowing for further education/training on inclusive pedagogy
    4. Conduct all community and inclusion work related to teaching and instruction with the ideals of promoting and fostering a growth mindset, respect, and a commitment to ongoing learning.
Metrics and Reporting
We are committed to holding ourselves accountable for achieving progress under this Board approved strategic plan for Community and Inclusion. To that end, we will track—over time—metrics that represent important factors in measuring and calibrating progress related to these written goals and objectives. The standing committee of the Board of Trustees dealing with issues related to Community and Inclusion will monitor the progress and implementation of this plan and serve as the formal report body to the larger Board of Trustees. In addition, we are committed to writing and publishing an annual report to our community which will provide specific updates on our progress. Finally, major progress will be evaluated at the end of a five year and ten year period with the entire community participating in the NAIS Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism (AIM) and benchmarking the degree of our progress against our ultimate goal of becoming an exemplary school on issues related to community and inclusion. A St. John’s Community and Inclusion audit will be added in a regular rotation of curricular audits that the school administers.

Statement on Community and Inclusion:

Every member of the St. John’s community will be known and loved. In accordance with that idea, our Mission Statement, and the Precepts and Principles of the St. John’s School, care is the School’s cardinal virtue, and we sustain a caring and welcoming culture for all.

In our community, we celebrate, promote, and appreciate the differences and similarities of our experiences. For us, community means respecting differences in ability, age, ethnicity, gender identity, race, religion and belief, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and thought. Our community is dynamic and ever changing.

Respecting these differences is not enough, though, and we ensure an environment in which everyone can feel comfortable, heard, and included. We value inclusion because it makes us all stronger as a community. A diversity of worldviews challenges us to consider other points of view and is essential to a full education and the development of well-rounded future leaders.

To promote these values, we will ensure cultural intelligence and proficiency for all members of our community. We:
  • Incorporate cultural proficiency, diversity, global awareness, and inclusivity into all facets of the K-12 curricula and co-curricular activities.
  • Create opportunities for board, faculty, staff, student, and parent development and community education initiatives in these areas.
  • Ensure broad representation among students, faculty, staff, and administrators through recruitment and retention of candidates from underrepresented groups.
  • Challenge ourselves to continually reevaluate curricula, policies, and practices to ensure that we continue to grow and welcome all voices.

St. John’s only fulfills its mission when all community members feel included, safe, and empowered to fully participate in all aspects of community life.

Unanimously Approved by the St. John's School Board of Trustees on September 8, 2018

Non-Discrimination Policy:

St. John's School seeks to attract qualified individuals of diverse backgrounds to its student body. Consequently, the School does not discriminate in admission or educational program versus any individual on the basis of sex, race, color, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, religion, or any other category protected by federal, state, or local law.

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