Parents journeyed through the Lower School and learned about countries around the world during the annual Global Studies Celebration. Each grade was provided an age-appropriate theme to discover their shared humanity while they investigated the world and strived to understand new perspectives.
The painful stories that we heard from members of our school community and the social unrest that took place during the summer of 2020 led us to take a deep look within ourselves, confront the mistakes of the past, and enact change. This change is necessary to become the school that we strive to be; it is change that aligns with our mission that values respect for others and embraces human diversity.
Since last summer, King School embarked on an intentional journey to examine every area of the school through a lens of equity and inclusion, with an overarching goal of becoming a more inclusive and anti-racist school.
The foundation of our work stemmed from the input we received from alumni, parents, students, faculty, and staff; community surveys; our strategic plan; and sincere consideration to the eye-opening and heartbreaking testimonies shared in various forums. We also created a DEI Task Force composed of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and trustees, who outlined a detailed list of recommendations for making King a more inclusive community.
Our plan derives from a firm commitment to be better and do better – as individuals and as a school. We deeply regret and apologize for the pain suffered by anyone within our walls. Our goal to become a more inclusive school and an anti-racist institution will require us to work to ensure a safe space for every member of our community – especially for those who belong to communities of color.
In this report, we provide an update on the work accomplished to date in the areas of governance, culture, curriculum, hiring, recruiting, and retention, and community engagement.
As promised, keeping track of our progress and communicating it to you is one of the ways we hold ourselves accountable for progress and accountable to you, our community.
While thorough, this update is not exhaustive; rather, this is a snapshot of some of our progress to date. We recognize that there still is and there will always be significant work ahead of us, but we are eager to continue this work in partnership with and in service to you. Thank you for your ongoing support and partnership as we advance these efforts.
See past communications regarding DEI:
- April 14, 2021 - Launch of Employee Resource Group
- April 13, 2021 - Introducing Our New Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
- April 5, 2021 - DEI Progress Update
- March, 19, 2021 - A Message of Support for Our Asian, Pacific Islander, and Asian American Community
- January 6, 2021 - Reflections on the Events of the Day
- October 28, 2020 - Board of Trustees Update
- August 26, 2020 - Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Update
- July 14, 2020 - Launch of Investigation
- July 3, 2020 - DEI Task Force and Working Groups
- June 29, 2020 - BlackAtKing and Further Action
- June 23, 2020 - Non-discrimination statement and reporting
- June 13, 2020 - Equity and Inclusion Progress
- June 7, 2020 - Message from the Board of Trustees
- June 2, 2020 - Affirming our shared values: No Place for Racism
- June 2, 2020 - Affirming our Mission and Values
DEI in Action
Award-winning authors Veera Hiranandani, Sheela Chari, and Sayantani DasGupta have a few things in common – their Indian heritage, their love of writing, and motherhood. The authors have known each other for over 10 years and have developed a special friendship that offers advice, encouragement, and support in their accomplished careers as Indian-American authors. “It was enlightening to see how their diverse identities have influenced their writing as authors. With this event, we are continuing to provide experiences that seek to educate, engage, and empower students with new perspectives,” said Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Dr. Clyde Beverly III, who organized the event on May 11 in partnership with the Indian Cultural Center (ICC) in celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month.
April 22, marks the annual Day of Silence, led by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), to raise awareness about the discrimination and harassment LGBTQ+ students face in schools. The Day of Silence has been held each year in April since 1996.
King School observed the day as a Day of Action with optional student-led initiatives to celebrate and support members of the LGBTQ+ community. The Gender and Sexuality Awareness (GSA) Club in King’s Upper School organized a gathering to mark the occasion. Students also participated by wearing pronouns pins, rainbow stickers, and colorful clothing. “Here at King, part of our values is that individuals are able to be seen as their authentic selves,” said Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Dr.Clyde Beverly III.
When the Russian forces invaded Ukraine at the end of February, upper school students Anabelle Creveling ’22 and Meredith Joo ’23 sprung into action. They started to network, searching for ways to connect with those directly affected by the attacks.
Together they learned that history teacher Lindsey Rossler had a friend and colleague at the American School of Warsaw. Poland, which is adjacent to Ukraine, has welcomed the largest number of Ukrainian refugees since the onset of the conflict.
The seventh annual music residency, El Sistema, returned to King School in person this year with a powerful new sound. Talented student musicians from King’s Middle and Upper Schools collaborated with seven El Sistema USA music programs from New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Connecticut. The collaboration resulted in an original composition that premiered at a community concert to showcase the learning and partnership that took place over the weekend. The overarching focus of the residency is to inspire a connection between communities of different socioeconomic backgrounds, using music ensembles to encourage deeper communication among its participants.
King School’s sixth grade students revved their engines as they built custom-designed Lego cars for students in Peru and Costa Rica. The design process included competition, as students raced against one another, using balloons to propel the cars forward. After perfecting their designs, the students disassembled the cars, carefully packaged them up, and sent them off to fellow students in Peru and Costa Rica. The collaboration is part of King’s partnership with the Orphaned Starfish Foundation (OSF).
Journey back to ancient Egypt with an exhibit curated by fifth grade students at King. The exhibition features Egyptian hieroglyphics, King Tut’s tomb, an informational display of the Nile River, pyramids, mummies, and more. Over the past few weeks, the class has explored the ancient culture and developed projects that best demonstrate their interest.
“I wanted to study sports because that’s something that I’m interested in,” said Paxton Freeman ’29. “I wondered about what types of activities the Egyptians used to do for fun and started researching sports that were around back then. That led me to archery.” Inspired, Paxton made a target, an arrow, and a crossbow out of cardboard box and wood for his project.
Throughout the month of February, as King celebrates Black History Month, a host of interesting guests have visited campus to share their unique stories with students. The Middle and Upper Schools welcomed Geiszel and Manual Godoy, owners of Black Sands Entertainment. The Lower School hosted Danielle Robinson, niece of prominent singer and record label executive Sylvia Robinson, and Rochelle Ballantyne, slated to become the first female African American chess master. Each visit contributed its unique perspective to the school’s theme for Black History Month, “Expressions of Excellence and Joy of the African Diaspora.”
Sixth grade students faced off in a series of animated debates about climate change and the use of plastic water bottles during their earth science classes. The students were assessed during the exercise, which served as an alternative to traditional testing. “The debate capped off our controversial environmental topics unit,” said associate middle school teacher Katie O’Connor. “We started the unit discussing a variety of environmental issues, including what they are, how our lives are impacted, and what our role may or may not be. We spent a lot of time talking about how people might have different opinions about environmental issues, which led to the debate.”