As a community working with children, these events highlight even more the urgency of the work we must accomplish–as a school and as individuals–to lead our children on the path of anti-racism.
-The HVWS Diversity Committee and College of Teachers
The Housatonic Valley Waldorf School community is a unique and ever-evolving tapestry that weaves together people from diverse social, economic and national backgrounds with different beliefs, racialized and gendered identities, family structures, abilities, and life experiences. We strive to respect and honor 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 Committee is active and works hard to provide relevant and timely resources:
- Information and curriculum development materials through our growing library of diversity-related literature. We are always adding more items to our collection and would welcome suggestions and/or the contributions!
- Community events and collaborative projects in support of diversity and inclusivity.
- Opportunities for education, study, and training to our faculty and parents.
Our Faculty and Staff:
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 tough, in order to promote a healthy environment for everyone.
One of the fundamental tenets of Waldorf education is a continuous and conscientious effort to be inclusive; to promote unity, cohesion, and harmony both within the educational setting and between the school and our larger community and world. We strive to be purposeful and constructive at every level, from individual interactions to an ongoing enhancement of curriculum to community outreach.
Our Students and Families:
HVWS aims to develop a healthy social consciousness within each student. Pedagogically, Waldorf education encourages such 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 many perspectives and differing experiences.
HVWS in Action:
In 2018 HVWS was awarded a generous, multi-year grant from the NoVo Foundation to support diversity and SEL initiatives. Using a portion of these funds in the 2018-19 school year, the HVWS Diversity Committee worked in consultation with our teachers and a local bookseller, Byrds Books, to purchase more than 300 new books to add to our classroom readers and library. We are in the process of making a similarly sized addition to our collection in the 2019-20 school year.
Over the past two years we have sent several faculty and staff to trainings with the Center for Racial Justice in Education. We had an in-person training scheduled for all faculty and staff in March of 2020 which was interrupted by the pandemic. We will now welcome the Center virtually over the summer. “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 Diversity Committee launched “Deepening the Dialogue,” an ongoing 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. They first visited HVWS in 2014.