School Life

Community & Inclusion

Dear SJS Parents,

We write to provide an update regarding the results of the NAIS AIM (Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism) study that our community participated in earlier this semester and to discuss the School’s ongoing efforts related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

We are pleased with the participation rates for the climate survey portion of AIM, including 96% of students in grades 4-12, 75% of faculty and staff, and 48% of parents. As you may recall, the survey was mostly quantitative in design but also included questions that allowed for open-ended responses. We continue to analyze and summarize over 200 pages of data responses and this link provides a one-page summary highlighting the key drivers of the quantitative composite scores for each constituency group.
When interpreting the results, it is important to note that two sets of normative benchmarks have been included. There are 225 NAIS schools that have participated in AIM, and these benchmarks are based on the first 66 schools that completed the climate survey. When looking at the summary, St. John’s individual score is listed under “your school” while the median score of the benchmark group is listed under “all schools”, and the median score of the top 20 percent from the benchmark group is listed under “high performing”.

Scores that range above the 4.0 category reflect areas perceived as healthy and high functioning. Scores between 3.5-3.99 are areas that are presently functioning but in need of improvement and future attention. Finally, any score of 3.49 or below reflects an area that should be considered a high-priority concern requiring immediate attention. In review, we are pleased to report healthy scores related to both St. John’s overall atmosphere and our community’s strong desire to prioritize work on equity and inclusion. We are especially pleased to report that our overall student scores reflect that they feel welcome and supported at St. John’s. At the same time, we remain committed to supporting and helping all members of our student body, and we identified some gaps in experiences related to learning differences, socio-economic status, and sexual orientation. Please keep in mind that the statistics provided in the attached summary are an overview, and we plan to share a more detailed breakdown of the survey results in the fall.

While we were conducting the AIM climate survey we were also engaged in the qualitative portion of AIM. During this internal audit, nine discovery committees were tasked with responding to a series of appreciative inquiry questions based on best practices in inclusivity and multiculturalism for independent schools. We commend the work of these discovery committees comprised of a broad range of SJS constituents and led by dedicated chairs and co-chairs. We are most appreciative of the time, effort, and reflective work of each committee. All discovery committee reports, totaling over 300 pages of response data, have been submitted to the SJS AIM Task Force on Community and Inclusion for analysis. Over the course of the coming months, the School will continue to analyze, sort, and interpret the AIM discovery committee reports and climate survey data.

Engaging in the work of community and inclusivity is indeed complex, but we remain committed to these ongoing efforts deemed essential to fulfilling the School’s mission. With the able assistance of Dr. Gene Batiste, SJS Director of Community and Inclusion, and the excellent work of the school-wide SJS AIM Task Force, the senior leadership team is working toward presenting a strategic plan for inclusion and equity to the Board of Trustees this coming fall. Included in that plan will be a vision and mission statement that will help to guide our important work in this area. In addition to these efforts, Dr. Batiste has coordinated a series of faculty and staff training sessions and workshops throughout this academic year. Moreover, we have worked closely with Upper School student affinity groups and the Unity Council to provide additional structure and support on all matters related to diversity. We have offered two opportunities for parent engagement with Dr. Batiste, including a Parent Coffee discussion of the New York Timesarticle on the socioeconomic class wars and a book discussion of Claude Steele’s Whistling Vivaldi. We plan for more parent engagement in our community and inclusion efforts in the 2018-2019 school year.

We look forward to providing more information about our plans to address areas in which our school community can grow in regards to equity and inclusion. We are encouraged by the work that has been conducted this school year and optimistic about future plans in inclusion and equity which are worthwhile and beneficial to all St. John’s constituents.

Mark D. Desjardins                                              Dr. Gene Batiste
Headmaster                                                          Director of Community and Inclusion

St. John's School

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