DEI Initiatives

As the 2020-2021 school year began, Oldfields committed to initiating dialogue around DEI. We provided space for discussions to occur around current events, varying beliefs, and the lived experiences of our students and faculty. It quickly became clear that the Oldfields community would greatly benefit from sharing norms of engagement in order to navigate these sometimes difficult but vital conversations. Our norms are rooted in Courage, Humility, and Largeness of Heart and are designed to be implemented in all aspects of our community—classes, community forums, club meetings, faculty meetings, athletics, and residential life. 

We recognize that there are tools that we need in order to facilitate this work and engage with our community norms. Oldfields is leading and participating in workshops, forming affinity groups, and collaborating with outside social justice programs to more thoughtfully dive into the work surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion.

Community Norms of Engagement

All-Faculty ReadS

Oldfields began the school year with an all-faculty book discussion of Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald. The exchange of ideas opened the door to larger discussions. 
In addition, faculty, staff and the Board of Trustees read White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo over Winter Break and are participating in a series of small group discussions led by our DEI Committeee members.

the Wells Collective 

Faculty, staff, and the Board of Trustees have participated in ongoing workshops led by The Wells Collective, LLC. This collaborative of diversity practitioners focuses on social justice, power and privilege, and provides consulting on ways to cultivate a more equitable community.  As of March 2021, faculty and staff have participated in six sessions and the Board of Trustees have participated in a workshop during October board meetings.  More professional development opportunities are planned. 

Implicit Bias Form

Every member of the Oldfields community has access to the Implicit Bias Form. This form and process will allow opportunity to report and address instances of bias of all types with the goal of protection of our students, the education and growth of our community,  and a more equitable and just campus. It will be a helpful tool in the effort to become an actively anti-racist campus as Oldfields recognizes the work that we have ahead of us with the intention to shift our school culture. Forms are submitted to compliance officers. Each incident can be submitted digitally or in print, anonymously or signed, and will be investigated appropriately, maintaining confidentiality when necessary.

What is an implicit bias?  Implicit bias conduct may take many forms, including verbal acts, as well as nonverbal behavior, such as graphic and written statements, including social media platforms, or conduct that is physically threatening, harmful, or humiliating. The more severe the conduct, the less need there is to show a repetitive series of incidents to prove a hostile environment, particularly if the conduct is physical. Indeed, a single or isolated incident of implicit bias may create a hostile environment.

DEI Programs/Community Norms of Engagement 

Oldfields hosts monthly community-wide forums and workshops that emphasize one of the nine community norms during each workshop. With the help of faculty leaders Bez Wallace and Shawn Wright, students lead breakout sessions and encourage dialogue around Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. We are very proud of our students for leaning into these courageous conversations and look forward to continuing workshops that will focus on a different norm each month. Past programs include:

  • September: "Open minds and hearts" was the first norm explored. Student leaders facilitated workshops titled: “Identity and Me,” “I Can Do and Be More,” and “How Can I Define Myself?”. The goal of this programming was to empower our students to speak from the heart and to listen with empathy

  • October: "Listen as if you might be wrong" was the central norm as we kicked off a three-year partnership with The Social Institute, an online learning platform that empowers students to positively navigate their social media world, including how to evaluate, process, and discuss the barrage of information on current events to which they are exposed. The Social Institute provides our students and faculty with a tool kit for engaging and navigating dialogue surrounding emotionally charged topics. Students are presented with a variety of topics to stimulate discussion in their advisory groups as advisors help them utilize the resources to navigate the challenges they face on and offline in today’s complex environment. 
  • November: "Distribute what you learn"  was the norm encouraged as student leaders of the Diversity Committee led interactive workshops focusing on BIPOC contributions to the arts. Through introducing students to influential BIPOC artists and social dances, students learned about the impact and influence these performers have on American culture.
  • December: "Full attention to the speaker" was practiced as students of color shared some of their stories experiencing racism.  
  • January: "It is okay to stumble" was supported as white community members shared about times they said or did the wrong thing and what they learned from these experiences. 
  • February: "Everyone will remain respectful and curious” was at the center as educator Mrs. Antoinette Dempsey-Waters joined our community for an interview on the importance of African American studies, the role economics play, and how the Black experience shapes American History.
  • March: “Lead and learn with love” was evident as our students gathered for a viewing and talk-back of the documentary Girl Rising. Girl Rising follows nine girls from developing countries as they courageously overcome the tremendous obstacles in order to get an education and change their fates. Our students were moved and inspired by these stories and are eager to give back to the organization. 

Affinity Groups

Students and faculty now have the option of participating in affinity groups once a week during lunch. Affinity groups provide important opportunities to connect with other people who share aspects of their identity, especially in situations in which they are in the minority or are marginalized. Affinity groups allow for an exploration of one’s own identity, celebration of shared identity, and debriefing of common challenges and experiences.

Dialogue in Athletics 

Realizing that our students learn in and out of the classroom—often on the fields, courts, and stage—Oldfields’ coaches participated in a workshop titled Dialogue in Athletics, a  six-session program facilitated by former Oldfields coach, Jill Kochanek, M.S. and Oldfields alumna Davida Palmer '18. Jill and Dalvida are thrilled to put their passion for social justice to work through this program for student-athletes and coaches. Jill is a trained facilitator and has led dialogues with high school and college athletes as well as sports professionals for several years. Adapted from Michigan State University’s MSU Dialogues, Dialogue in Athletics is a leadership and social justice education program that aims to teach student-athletes and coaches skills to foster inclusive, empowering, cultures and  experiences in sports. Students participated in a separate six-session segments during January and February

Student and Faculty Participate in National Association of Independent Schools' (NAIS) People of Color Conference

The learning and growth continue as the members of our DEI Student Committee attended the NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) from December 1 through December 4. The conference was held virtually, and the girls' shared experience at Morning Meeting upon completion.

In addition, key faculty members attended the NAIS People of Color Conference, which is the flagship of the National Association of Independent Schools' commitment to equity and justice in teaching and learning. The mission of the conference is to provide a space for leadership and professional development and networking for people of color and allies of all backgrounds in independent schools. PoCC equips educators at every level, from teachers to trustees, with knowledge, skills, and experiences to improve and enhance the interracial, interethnic, and intercultural climate in their schools, as well as the attending academic, social-emotional, and workplace performance outcomes for students and adults alike.

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