About Us

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Our Mission in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

We acknowledge the fact of diversity as a vital source of Annie Wright Schools’ strong community. We recognize all identities as part of our diversity, including both under-represented and over-represented groups across ethnic, racial, and regional identities; language and learning profiles; religious and political beliefs; socioeconomic and family make-ups; and gender and sexual identities. Among our community, we cultivate shared rights and mutual stewardship.  
 
We safeguard individual identities by recognizing that diversity alone does not lead to inclusion. We strive to develop practices to ensure all members of our community have access to safe, equitable, and brave spaces. We welcome opportunities to challenge cultural assumptions of what is “normal” and to broaden our sense of identity; seeking to actively advance the culture of the institution by continually examining the tension between tradition and transformation.
 
We nurture responsible, global citizenry in a pluralistic and rapidly changing world by encouraging and being willing to respectfully engage courageous conversations. We purposefully examine cultural distinctions and implications across programmatic and curricular practices. As an institution, we seek to practice on-going, reflective learning processes, including routine practices of self and community care.
 
The practices named above extend through all facets of our community, including but not limited to organizational structures such as institutional leadership, recruitment, admissions, hiring and retention; educational spaces such as curricular and extracurricular programming; as well as community partnerships and communications.

Strategic Plan for Diversity

The Strategic Plan for Diversity, adopted in early 2019, outlines a vision for supporting all members of the Annie Wright Schools community and for developing robust Diversity, Inclusion and Equity programming. There are four general areas of attention, each with specific initiatives, components, and performance measures.

List of 4 items.

  • Professional Development

    Annie Wright will provide training in diversity, inclusivity, and multicultural education for faculty, staff, and administrators.

    Initiative:
    The Schools will engage all employees in professional development in diversity, inclusivity, and multiculturalism at least once per academic year. 

    • The Professional Development budget will be designated to support training in diversity, inclusivity, and multicultural education including on campus workshops, guest speakers, and individual participation in relevant training or conferences.
      • Training:
        • Faculty: curriculum & pedagogy; creating an inclusive classroom
        • Staff: creating an inclusive workplace; training in cultural competencies
        • Administrators: best practices in recruiting, hiring & retaining diverse faculty; assessing and supporting school climate
      • Performance Measures - Success in engaging employees in professional development will be marked by:  
        • Prioritization of PD designating 20% of funding for relevant training
        • Revaluation of effectiveness and growth in curricular and professional programming and qualitative reflection of impact of PD
    Initiative: The Schools will provide training for administrators, faculty, and staff on facilitating difficult conversations between students and colleagues.

    • Administration will identify appropriate training for all employees to equip them to navigate difficult conversations, address concerns, and develop safe spaces for students and employees 
      • Training
        • Rooted in commitment to a student-centered environment
        • Applicable to a variety of contexts, situations, and issues of identity
      • Performance Measures - Success in the provision of training on facilitating difficult conversations will be marked by:
        • Identification of appropriate trainer or agency within year one of the Strategic Plan for Diversity
        • Completion or commencement of training employees within three years
    Initiative: The Schools will analyze opportunities for collegial dialogue, internal community building, and reflection on issues related to diversity, inclusivity, and multicultural education.
    • The Schools will research and identify appropriate structures to encourage these opportunities
      • Potential Structures
        • SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity)
        • Affinity groups, common spaces or regularly scheduled drop-in conversations to promote dialogue, community, and reflection
        • Time designated in Faculty & Staff Meetings to explore and assess options and to engage in dialogue and reflection
      • Performance Measures - Success in analysis of opportunities will be marked by: 
        • Integration of structures for employees and steady/growing number of participants in place by April 2018. 
        • Integration of structures for dialogue into faculty and staff meetings at the Divisional/Departmental and all-Schools levels
        • Qualitative reflection on the growth of collegial dialogue sparked by relevant initiatives
    Initiative: In the first year of the Strategic Plan for Diversity, the Schools will provide support for designated faculty & staff to visit peer schools with impactful diversity and inclusivity programs.

    • The Schools will research and identify the most impactful and best practices to bring to Annie Wright 
      • Performance Measures - Success in support for visits to peer schools will be marked by:
        • Outside school visit one employee in each division and thoughtful report of experience within one year of Strategic Plan for Diversity Implementation  
        • Qualitative reflection on the impact of school visits
        • Updated plan for programming based on research
    Initiative: The Schools will draw on existing, or develop new, community partnerships to support in-house programming and to promote engagement with off-campus programming around diversity, inclusivity, and multicultural education.
    • The Diversity Topic Group will partner with the Schools’ Service Learning program and other resources to identify agencies and institutions as potential partners (e.g. local agencies and institutions in Tacoma) for programming around diversity, inclusivity, and multicultural education
    • The Schools will research the potential for partnerships with teaching training programs that recruit and support underrepresented groups.
      • Performance Measures - Success in the development of community partnerships will be marked by:
        • Expansion of existing partnerships with local agencies or institutions 
        • Collaboration with at least one existing partner on an on- or off-campus event each academic year 
        • Identification of one institution that trains teachers from underrepresented groups by third year of implementation the Strategic Plan for Diversity
  • Teaching & Curriculum

    Annie Wright will review its curriculum to ensure that it reflects and promotes the diversity of the community.
    • Initiative: The Schools will complete a thorough review of the curriculum through the lens of diversity, inclusivity, and multicultural education. 
      • The Schools will identify an appropriate instrument to conduct an audit of the curriculum and supporting resources for both teachers and students. 
      • The Schools will assess opportunities for training students in the areas of diversity, inclusivity, and multicultural education, such as the NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference and the NWAIS Diversity Retreat, and consider integrating participation in these activities on an annual basis. 
    • Initiative: The Schools will identify and/or develop a tool for teachers to use for curriculum analysis through the lens of diversity, inclusivity, and multicultural education. 
      • Performance measures: Success in the development of a curriculum tool will be marked by:
        • A tool for curriculum development will be identified and adapted in the first year of implementing the Strategic Plan for Diversity. The tool will be more widely available for teachers in the second year of the Strategic Plan for Diversity.
  • Recruitment, Support & Retention of a Diverse Board, Faculty & Staff

    Annie Wright will strive to create a Faculty & Staff that reflects the diversity of its student body.
    • Initiative: The Schools will analyze current structures that provide support for Faculty & Staff. 
      • The Schools will analyze induction programming for employees in their first and second years to ensure attention to diversity, inclusivity, and multicultural education. 
      • Each year, at the Divisional/Departmental, administrative, and All-Schools levels, the Schools review, reflect on, and update support structures for Faculty & Staff. 
      • Performance measures: Success in the analysis of current structures will be marked by:
        • The Schools’ support structures and induction programming explicitly attend to diversity, inclusivity, and multicultural education and to the needs and concerns of colleagues from underrepresented groups.
    • Initiative: The Schools will prioritize recruitment and hiring of Faculty & Staff that reflect the diversity of the student body. 
      • Administrators and other colleagues involved in the hiring process receive training on best practices for recruiting, hiring, supporting, and retaining underrepresented groups. 
      • As employment opportunities arise, the Schools will use a wide range of methods to advertise to and recruit applicants from underrepresented groups. These methods might include partnership with recruiting agencies such as NEMNET and targeted advertising with colleges and universities with diverse populations. 
      • As employment opportunities arise, the Schools will strive to identify finalists from underrepresented groups. 
      • Performance measures: Success in the recruitment and hiring of Faculty & Staff will be marked by:
        • During the first or second year of implementing the Strategic Plan for Diversity, a plan for ongoing professional development around recruiting and hiring is defined and implemented.
        • The recruiting and hiring process explicitly prioritizes outreach to underrepresented groups.
        • The demographic makeup of the Schools’ Faculty & Staff increasingly reflects the diversity of the student body and is tracked by an appropriate method. 
    • Initiative: The Board of Trustees will prioritize recruitment of Trustees that reflect the diversity of the student body. 
      • The Governance Committee of the Board will research best practices concerning diversity, inclusion, and multicultural education for Boards and articulate goals. 
      • Performance measures: Success in prioritizing diversity of the Board will be marked by:
        • The Board of Trustees has a clear understanding of best governance practices for trustees. 
        • The Board of Trustees has articulated and announced clear goals for furthering the diversity of the Board. 
    • Initiative: The Schools will continue to review and address concerns articulated via the AIM Survey, implemented in May 2016.
      • Performance measures: Success in the review of findings of the AIM Survey will be marked by:
        • The Schools engage in regular reflection on the findings of the AIM Survey. 
        • The Schools appropriately communicate the findings of the AIM Survey. 
  • Reflection

    Annie Wright commits to continuous engagement in reflection on diversity, inclusivity, and multicultural education.
    • Initiative: The Schools will develop a statement on diversity, inclusivity, and multicultural education to guide the development of the total program. 
      • In the second year of implementing the Strategic Plan for Diversity and building on the research, experiences, and insights of the first year of the Plan, the Schools will designate a team to draft a statement that articulates the meaning of diversity, inclusivity, and multicultural education for Annie Wright and that projects a vision for the Annie Wright community.   
      • Performance measures: Success in the development of a statement on diversity will be marked by:
        • At the end of the second year of the Strategic Plan for Diversity, a designated group will develop a draft statement for the Board of Trustees to review and implement.
    • Initiative: At the end of the timeline for the Strategic Plan for Diversity, the Schools will re-administer AIM Survey to identify areas of growth or stagnation. The Schools will consider at that time whether to implement the full AIM Self-Study to complement and respond to the findings of the survey. 
      • Performance measures: Success in the readministration of the AIM Survey will be marked by:
        • In the final year of implementing the Strategic Plan for Diversity, the AIM Survey is administered and an analysis of growth between administrations is completed.

Moving Important Work Forward Through DEI Subcommittees

Now more than ever, Annie Wright Schools must reaffirm its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Our goal is to be a community in which everyone feels included. In order for this to happen, we must put ourselves consistently and with conviction in to the work itself, utilizing a system to evaluate, respond to and reflect on school culture and practice.
 
The system starts with the formation of “subcommittees.”  Led by members of Annie Wright Schools' DEI Working Group, these subcommittees focus on a chosen area of interest or need. They work throughout a pre-determined time frame and produce concrete deliverables. Participation in the subcommittees is open to faculty, staff, trustees, alumni, and, when appropriate, students and parents. Every semester, certain subcommittees conclude while new subcommittees launch.
 
The Working Group will conduct occasional pulse checks that ask AWS community members to share their lived experiences. Responses to this survey provide feedback on our community culture and help give direction to future subcommittees. 

DEI Subcommittees

List of 7 items.

  • Affinity Spaces

    Define, build, launch, and support spaces designed for shared identities to support, uplift, and encourage each other. This subcommittee will run through the third quarter (January 25, 2021 to March 26, 2021) of this academic year with the goal of establishing active affinity groups across divisions by the end of the school year, if not before.

    January 29, 2021

    The Affinity Spaces Subcommittee, comprised of faculty, administrators and students, has been working on identifying and developing a common language and curriculum for affinity spaces to ensure our students and faculty are well equipped to understand the value, importance and purpose of affinity spaces.

    Actions to date

    • The group has decided to begin the work of affinity groups in the Middle School. A courageous group of faculty from all four divisions are ready to be pioneers in this work and to support students in their unique identities.
    • Based on student interest and self-identification, the seven initial groups will be Black/African American, Indigenous/Native, Asian/Pacific Islander, Gender & Sexuality, Multi-Racial, Transracial Adoptees, and Children of Immigrants.
    Challenges and Opportunities
    • Finding balance between representing groups that meet students’ needs and ensuring leadership from adults in our community that share the group's affinity.
    • Recognizing not all groups are yet represented, we expect groups will be refined and more added over time as further need is identified.
    • Also recognize that some students identify in several spaces, so we will aim to find opportunities to offer affinity groups in different blocks to ensure students can opt into all spaces where they find affinity.

    Next Steps

    Conversations are ongoing with existing student groups in the Upper Schools and with students who participated in the National Association of Independent Schools' Student Leadership Development Conference in December to create time and space for similar affinity groups to be launched in the Upper Schools in late Spring.

    Timeline
    Faculty will be trained in facilitation and common norms and language with the goal to kick off affinity groups on Friday, February 19, running weekly on Fridays for the duration of the year.
  • Assessment & Progress

    Define appropriate metrics, develop a mechanism for assessing progress, and create a dashboard for constituents to review ongoing progress against defined metrics. This subcommittee will conclude at the end of the 2020-2021 school year. 

    January 29, 2021

    This Assessment and Progress subcommittee, comprised of administrators, Board members, faculty and parents, is committed to finding ways to understand, reflect and analyze the progress of the schools' journey in the DEI space.

    Actions to date
    • The committee reviewed and discussed the type of metrics available and needed to assess progress and to understand both who we are as a community and whether we are progressing in any measurable way, landing on three essential categories:
      • People (Who are we and who do we want to be)
      • Experience (How do people experience AWS? Do they feel like they belong?)
      • Performance (How are people performing? Are they succeeding?)
    • An initial draft of potential questions and demographic identifiers has been identified.
    • AWS has joined the Inclusion Dashboard Consortium to leverage other independent school's experience and best practices in assessing progress toward inclusion, and to partner with them in this work.
    Next Steps

    • Finalize draft of survey drawing on Inclusion Dashboard and other independent school successes and challenges, as well as further conversations with internal stakeholders.
    • Create and deploy a beta version of the survey to get feedback and allow for revisions.
    • Share language around the critical nature of this work and the importance of full participation for us to assess progress and identify gaps - critical decisions, systemic change and policy outcomes cannot be based on incomplete or inaccurate data. Full and transparent assessment of who we are as a community will allow us to truly hold ourselves accountable.
    Timeline
    Ongoing work. Goal to send out the first survey by spring break.
  • Completing Our History

    Some stories and figures of AWS' history are well known and celebrated. Who and what is missing? What questions should we be asking about the AWS DEI journey which began in the Gilded Age, spanned through reconstruction and desegregation? This subcommittee will conclude at the end of the first semester (January 22, 2021), and is explicitly designed for student involvement (among other constituents). 

    January 29, 2021

    The Completing Our History Subcommittee, comprised of faculty, staff, alumni, parents and Board members, spent time understanding, researching and reflecting on the many facets of what "completing our history" means.

    Actions to date
    • The subcommittee discussed, researched and reviewed the complexity of the topic and developed a more complete and realistic assessment of the required focus and time to complete this work.
    • The subcommittee has defined and begun work on three goals for the 2020-21 school year.
      • Addressing the need to preserve Annie Wright's archival material and historical artifacts.
      • Soliciting and collecting oral histories from living alumni.
      • Collecting and analyzing statistical data with regard to diversity over the course of Annie Wright's history.
    Challenges and Opportunities
    • During the committee conversations, it became clear that the complexity of this topic required significant time investment and, in the midst of COVID, physical research was additionally complicated.
    • Student integration remains a significant opportunity, especially as it relates to goal #3.
    Next Steps
    Subcommittee members will split into sub-teams and begin reaching out to relevant stakeholders for interviews, expertise in archiving, and assistance in historical research.

    Timeline
    Expected completion of initial stages by June '21, including identification of necessary follow-up steps.
  • Curricular Examination

    Divisional faculty will examine curriculum and pedagogy through DEI lens and learning standards. This subcommittee will conclude at the end of the 2020-2021 school year and is tasked with identifying the 2021-2022 iteration of curricular assessment. This committee is for AWS faculty only.

    January 29, 2021

    The objective of the Curricular Examination Subcommittee, comprised of faculty across all divisions and Upper School students, is to support divisional faculty in examining curriculum and pedagogy through a DEI lens. 
     
    This subcommittee is unique in that, as a faculty, everyone is, by default, on this "curricular examination" journey together. Consequently, many of the subcommittee's 'deliverables' are "common" or "community" deliverables. The faculty are all doing this work together.

    Actions to date
    • At the beginning of the year, engaged in DEI conversations, by division, and began to research and examine curricular tools such as The Pollyanna Curriculum in the Lower School and Teaching Tolerance's Social Justice Standards in the Middle school, as well as these and other subject-specific tools in the Upper Schools. 
    • In Q1, also established and shared the following subcommittee goals:
      • to develop a common language around DEI 
      • to identify and celebrate strengths in current practices and curriculum 
      • to facilitate reflection on individual and collective practices and curriculum, and
      • to consider the feasibility and usefulness of a future full curricular DEI audit  
    • Additionally, in Q1, began a collaboration with Kisha Palmer, a DEI consultant with The Institute for Inclusive Leadership in Seattle. Kisha is working with faculty this year to help achieve the DEI goals by laying groundwork toward anti-racist teaching and by encouraging all teachers to bring a DEI lens into their classroom.
    • In late November, faculty completed a survey expressing our DEI interests, needs, and reluctance. Responses helped inform Kisha's work, and she is designing her upcoming workshops based on the school's own demonstrated needs and interests.
    Next Steps
    Divisional meetings on January 25 launched our work with Kisha around courageous conversations surrounding race and DEI. These lead into three guided workshops throughout this winter and spring as our faculty moves forward together examining curriculum at AWS with a lens toward diversity, equity, and inclusion.

    Timeline
    Ongoing work, and workshops with Kisha during in-service days: January 25, February 11, March 12, April 23 and May 14
  • Listening & Learning

    Consider and propose what engagement with and across constituents (students, alums, and others) can and should look like to best understand the experience of culture and climate at AWS. This subcommittee will conclude at the end of the first semester (January 22, 2021).

    January 29, 2021

    The Listening & Learning Subcommittee, comprised of faculty, staff, parents and students, aims to bring constituencies together under the mission of our DEI statement to safely and intentionally discuss DEI topics. This both nurtures the kind of perspective building and growth we need to move forward institutionally, and also build a culture of leaning into conversations that can seem intimidating. These practices directly correlate to the DEI mission statement: "Among our community, we cultivate shared rights and mutual stewardship. We nurture responsible, global citizenry in a pluralistic and rapidly changing world by encouraging and being willing to respectfully engage courageous conversations."

    Actions to date
    • Conducted all four of our initial L&L conversations around identities, and the extent to which identities in this community are or have historically been welcomed.
    • Surveys conducted after each conversation were analyzed and one feedback was consistent throughout: more conversations like these are needed.
    Challenges and Opportunities
    • These center around questions that continue to arise:
      • Who is showing up for these conversations? Who is speaking? If it is frequently the same individuals, where will we meet our growth and extend that idea of mutual stewardship?
      • How do we know we are giving voice and access to the perspectives we need to hear from most? And making those perspectives available to those individuals who can't or don't?
    • Affinity vs. shared discourse - knowing when it is best to have these conversation in affinity spaces, and when to build the practice of listening & sharing across identities
    Next Steps
    • Planning an additional two series of L&L conversations.
      • First will engage and conclude in mid-February/March and will focus on unpacking equity - what do we mean when we say this? What do considerations, policies, practices that build equity in a learning community look like? Emphasis on shared learning as part of these discussions by way of terminology AND optional affinity breakouts in these conversations for individuals with shared identities to be able to share.
      • The second conversation will be in April/early May focused around anti-racism & anti-racist teachings.
    Timeline
    With the initial timeline concluded, a new phase of further conversation will continue into the spring and summer. Further phases will be identified after these conversations.
  • Recruiting & Hiring

    Consider, research, and design approaches to growing, retaining, and supporting a diverse staff, faculty, and leadership. The time frame of this subcommittee is ongoing.

    January 29, 2021

    After reviewing current practices and available demographic data for the school and the region, the Recruitment and Hiring Subcommittee, comprised of faculty, staff, parents, alumni, Board members and students all of whom bring a wealth of relevant experience, developed a short list of achievable short-term projects relating to the hiring process at Annie Wright Schools.

    Actions to date
    • Job postings have been intentionally adjusted to reflect the importance of cultural humility and commitment to diversity and inclusion in the school community.
    • Representatives have participated in several recruitment/retention programs focused on reviewing best practices in independent schools, bringing back knowledge and practices to the subcommittee.
    • Annie Wright Schools have joined the Pipeline Collaborative, a network of schools and practitioners of color dedicated to informing, mentoring and growing the next generation of teachers and staff at independent schools.
    Next Steps
    • The group is beginning by developing and recommending a set of questions every applicant to the school will need to answer relating to DEI issues.
    • Annie Wright Schools will again participate in the Independent School Diversity Career Fair on February 6. 
    • The group hopes to welcome more student voice in developing processes and structures for involving students in the hiring process.
    • Continue to work through the various projects with the goal of making concrete, impactful changes in 2021. 
    Timeline
    Work is ongoing.
  • Traditions vs. Assimilation

    Examine Annie Wright Schools' traditions to ensure each stand for our stated values and intentions, not just for the sake of "history." This subcommittee will launch and run through the second semester.

    January 29, 2021

    This subcommittee is being called to action with an expected start date in mid-February (around the beginning of the second semester in the Upper Schools). The expected outcome will be for the subcommittee to review the breadth of the question recognizing that this will likely be an ongoing and never-ending process, if we are to do it right. The subcommittee would then design a process and establish a timeline for effectively reviewing traditions by the end of the semester.

DEI Town Hall Update June 2, 2021

AWS DEI Working Group

The founding members of Annie Wright Schools' DEI Working Group draw from a committed group of faculty and staff. Thank you to:
  • Sandra Forero Bush
  • Grace Finch
  • Tracey Golding
  • Annie Green
  • Ambalila Hemsell
  • Scottie Hill
  • Lucy Iwamoto
  • Chelen Johnson
  • Alicia Mathurin 
  • Devon Morris
  • Jamie Parrott
  • Jeremy Stubbs
  • William Wilde
  • Arianne Zwartjes

Contact

Annie Wright Schools
827 North Tacoma Avenue
Tacoma, WA 98403
253.272.2216

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Founded in Tacoma, Washington, in 1884, Annie Wright Schools serve students from age three through high school. Annie Wright Lower  and Middle Schools offer coed programs in Preschool through Grade 8, while separate Upper Schools for girls  and boys offer day and boarding options in Grades 9 through 12. Annie Wright is proud to be an International Baccalaureate World School.