The Housatonic Valley Waldorf School community is a unique and ever-evolving tapestry that weaves together people from diverse social, economic, and international backgrounds with different beliefs, racialized and gendered identities, family structures, abilities, and life experiences. We are committed to respecting and honoring these differences in the life and activities of our school responsibly, with clarity, historical accuracy, and purpose.
There are many privileges associated with being an independent school. With those privileges come both a responsibility and an opportunity to make HVWS accessible and to establish relevant and continuous dialogue in our classrooms, within our faculty, and amongst parents and the extended community. The Housatonic Valley Waldorf School’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice (DEIJ) Committee is active and works hard to provide relevant and timely resources including:
- Information and curriculum development materials.
- A growing library of diverse literature.
- Community events and collaborative projects in support of diversity and inclusivity.
- Opportunities for education, study, and training to our faculty and parents.
HVWS in Action:
During the 2021-22 school year, HVWS worked with Alma Partners to audit and improve areas including curriculum, policies and procedures, and family experience, with a focus on racial justice. Alma Partners met regularly with school leadership and representatives from the DEI committee, as well as worked with faculty and staff at faculty meetings, hosted a parent evening for BIPOC/global majority parents and parents raising BIPOC/global majority children, and audited and made recommendations regarding school polices and procedures.
Beginning in 2018, HVWS was awarded a generous, multi-year grant (renewed in 2021) from the NoVo Foundation to support diversity and SEL initiatives. We continue to dedicate a portion of these funds to adding greater representation to the books in our classrooms and libraries. We have worked in consultation with our teachers, other educators across the country, and local bookseller, Byrds Books, to add to our book wish lists as well as our collections. You can view our current wish list and recent additions (as we have time to add them!) on our LibraryThing catalog.
Over the past few years we have sent several faculty and staff to trainings with the Center for Racial Justice in Education. During the 2020-2021 school year, faculty and staff had virtual trainings with the Center for Racial Justice in Education. “The Center for Racial Justice in Education’s mission is to train and empower educators to dismantle patterns of racism and injustice in our schools and communities. At the Center for Racial Justice in Education, we envision a world where all young people learn and thrive in racially equitable, liberating, and empowering educational spaces.”
In 2019 the DEI Committee hosted “Deepening the Dialogue,” a series of discussions around issues of diversity and inclusion.
- April 2019: Centering Justice and Joy in Your Child’s Library with Zetta Elliot, PhD. Dr. Elliott read to students during the day and presented to parents in the evening. Her interactive presentation demonstrated how inclusive books can foster cross-cultural understanding at an early age.
- February 2019: Dimensions of Gender, an evening of voices, education, and conversation about gender identity. Our guest speakers—educator Jessica Ann Vooris, student and activist Leah Juliett, and volunteers from the Stonewall Speakers—addressed questions such as What is gender? How do I talk about and understand gender variance? How can I help create a more inclusive environment for children and adults? Stonewall Speakers, a program of the not-for-profit Connecticut Stonewall Foundation, Inc., is a volunteer speaker’s bureau comprised of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people and their allies. Their speakers share their hearts, stories, and time to help eliminate hate and promote understanding. Speaking engagements combine personal life stories with a judgement-free question and answer session. Stonewall Speakers first visited HVWS to share their stories with parents and staff in 2014.
Our Faculty and Staff:
Fundamental to Waldorf education are a cultivation of trust, personal responsibility, and self-reflection. As conscientious role models to our student body, HVWS faculty and staff work very hard together daily through critical self and group reflection to ensure that no individual, nor any group, is left out, tracked, neglected, or otherwise alienated. We do not avoid conversations; we have conversations, even if they are challenging, in order to promote a healthy environment for everyone.
HVWS supports the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America’s Statement of Equity and Racial Justice.
Our Students and Families:
HVWS aims to develop a healthy social consciousness within each student. Pedagogically, Waldorf education encourages a critical consciousness by nurturing students’ inherent curiosities, helping them to develop critical reasoning skills, and promoting a consciousness among students that is both empathetic and socially responsible. In addition to the work in the classroom, HVWS parents play an important part by sharing their unique cultures and lived experiences with the school. We see the active contributions of our families as vital assets to deepening our understanding and appreciation of each other.
Honoring and exploring diversity is an essential strength to both our community and the education we offer. Students benefit from a deep and rich understanding of the world that is inclusive of all perspectives and experiences.