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Working Groups

Working Groups

Here at AWS we employ a “Working Group” model that is designed to leverage the expertise of our community to improve the human experience on campus. Volunteer members of the faculty and staff lead our Working Groups, and each year they select particular topics for focused study drawing on data collected from formal and informal surveys.

One of our Working Groups, our School and Culture Group, is focused on helping the school grow and reflect, be it through managing the school's self-study process for our regular accreditations, through school visits to further explore best practices and alternative models, or through ongoing pedagogical and curricular evaluations. This Working Group is wholly internal in nature and engages faculty and staff throughout the school.

The other two Working Groups - our DEI and Health & Wellness Groups - launch these selected topics and invite community members - faculty, staff, trustees, alumni, parents, and, when appropriate, students - to join them on topic-specific “subcommittees.”

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

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 into the work itself, utilizing a system to evaluate, respond to and reflect on school culture and practice.

DEI Subcommittees

List of 3 items.

  • 2020-2021

    During the 2020-2021 school year, subcommittees engaged conversations around recruiting & hiring, curriculum and pedagogy, assessment and progress, history, listening & learning, affinity spaces, and understanding traditions. These conversations led to explicit changes in our recruitment and hiring processes, the creation of internal "Pulse Check" surveys for middle and upper schools students as well as faculty and staff, the hiring of an archivist, defining a tool for assessing traditions, as well as led directly to the creation of some of the 2021-2022 subcommittees.
  • 2021-2022

    During the 2021-2022 school year, subcommittees further focused on an understanding of our history and how we tell it, an examination of how we can best understand and reflect diversity of thought on campus, a continuation of work done in 2020-2021 regarding a review of our hiring and retention practices, further analysis and exploration of affinity and alliance groups, and an internal survey of curricular practices. The work of these subcommittees has led to further adjustments in our hiring and retention processes as well as informing one of this year's Health and Wellness subcommittees, and the work of the school archivist.
  • 2022-2023

    In our Student Pulse Check, we ask students several questions. Among them, we ask students to identify whether "Financial resources limit my access to academic and social experiences." In response to this question, 15% of students answered 'yes.’  Looking specifically at this group, we found they were slightly more likely to answer “no” to the question “Do you feel you belong at AWS?”  As we work to ensure all students feel as though they belong at AWS, we must take into consideration the role of financial resources both practically and emotionally. To that end, this year the group has decided to explicitly focus on one area of inquiry -  How can we better understand the relationship between a student’s socio-economic identity and their sense of belonging at AW?

Health & Wellness

The third strand of our 2021-2025 Strategic Plan entrusts AWS with "Fostering a Culture of Wellness." While tending to the whole student has been central to the mission of Annie Wright Schools, the COVID pandemic has certainly underlined the critical importance of focusing on student and employee health and wellness. At the heart of this strand is the creation of our Health & Wellness Working Group designed to mirror in form and function our DEI Working Group.

H&W Subcommittees

List of 2 items.

  • 2021-2022

    During the 2021-2022 school year, the H&W Working Group, led this year by Director of Athletics Mike Finch and Upper Schools Counselor Jenna Lott and with the support and participation of several Board members, crafted a Health & Wellness Mission Statement which was unanimously adopted by the Board of Trustees at their February 25, 2022 Board meeting.

    Additionally, the team of faculty and staff partnered with students, parents, alumni and board members in three key subcommittees that were designed to begin the process of identifying what a best-in-class health and wellness program look like for students and for faculty and staff, and what tools, questions and systems are needed to ensure we are delivering these programs effectively. In addition to generating a new hiking series for faculty and staff, suggestions from the subcommittees have been incorporated in faculty and staff benefits, student conversations, and in the review of our internal surveys.
  • 2022-2023

    This year, the H&W Working Group identified to areas of focus based on input and data from last year's subcommittee work and Authentic Connections surveys. 
    According to the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors, physical and emotional health concerns can lead to higher rates of absences and presenteeism (working while unwell at reduced capacity), as well as lower productivity and performance. Teacher stress is linked to burnout, reduced job satisfaction, lower student academic performance, and higher turnover.  It is critical that AWS supports the physical, mental, and spiritual health of its employees.  Their health ensures a strong education for AWS students. Therefore, the group will consider: How can Annie Wright draw on existing research and community expertise to further develop a culture of wellness for its employees?
    Data from the Authentic Connections survey taken by students last spring revealed that students who identified poor relationships with parents had higher rates of anxiety and depression.  These findings are in line with broader national research suggesting that low student-parent relationships are directly related to higher levels of mental health symptoms including depression, anxiety and rule breaking.  By working to improve student-parent relationships, we can help improve student wellness. Therefore, this group will consider: How might Annie Wright help foster healthy relationships between parents/caregivers and students in our community to help contribute positively to the student's overall social and emotional wellness?