Tracey Goodson Barrett Reflects on Diversity and Inclusion

With the fall issue of Independent School Magazine focused on the ways in which independent schools are incorporating diversity and inclusion into their missions, we asked our own Tracey Goodson Barrett, GSB's Director of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, to share her thoughts on diversity and inclusion at Gill St. Bernard’s. A very special thanks to her for writing this timely guest blog.  ……………………….. “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya AngelouDiversity, inclusion and equity have become increasingly important to independent schools over the past 40 plus years. The fall issue of Independent School Magazine, “Diversity and Inclusion-Where are We Now?” is entirely devoted to the full spectrum of diversity and inclusion work at independent schools. This issue examines and reflects on the ongoing and often difficult work.Each article throughout the issue shines a light on the many facets of diversity and inclusion in our independent school communities, including building socio-economic diversity, measuring inclusion and belonging and tackling difficult conversations about race. Each aspect touches on the life of a school community, most specifically the students. As we turn the mirror to our own GSB community, I think about the work we are doing to strengthen our commitment to cultivate a diverse, equitable and inclusive community. We continuously examine what diversity looks like in our community and emphasize the ways in which we foster a sense of inclusion and belonging. We are engaging in the difficult conversations, assessing our curriculum, policies and practices and re-examining how we work and learn together. As stated in the book, “The Courage Way,” by Shelley L. Francis and Parker J. Palmer, “Community is not to be taken for granted. Community is a gift that requires nurturing and hard work.”At GSB, we all contribute to the diversity of our community through cultural traditions, experiences and perspectives. Diversity also includes our cultural identities, such as our race, gender, religion, nationality, age and many additional cultural identifiers. We often look to these identifiers as our core, but more importantly we value the ways in which we all bring and include these identities in our school, validating who we are and nurturing us to feel good about ourselves. In our community, we continue to build connections with each other, find common ground, and support spaces where we share an affinity with others. As I reflect on the opening months of school, I think about our collective efforts to promote respect and connectedness. Our Middle School has hosted Peace Day, town halls, Mix-It-Up day, and the current events club. The Upper School has contributed through its clubs and activities, student forums, guest speakers and fundraisers to benefit Make-A-Wish and other community organizations. And our Lower School is commended for bringing families and children together through Stone Soup, the Trunk or Treat event, parent coffees and the book fair.Independent schools are not utopian communities. We have a lot more work to do to deepen our understanding and acceptance of one another. I am grateful to work with students, faculty, parents and administrators of many cultural identities, experiences and perspectives who collectively work through difficult conversations for the betterment of our community.GSB is a place where we are each encouraged to bring our full selves to campus every day and connect with one another on common ground. We create spaces to share our perspectives, even if we don’t agree, and we work on valuing one other as individuals, each with a set of ideas and experiences that has helped to shape who we are today. This is diversity and inclusion. This is belonging. This is Gill St. Bernard’s School. Independent School Magazine is published quarterly by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). It considers topics and trends relevant to independent schools.  Related Resources:The Bindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People-Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony GreenwaldWhy Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race-Beverly Daniel TatumReadings on Diversity and Social Justice-edited by Maurianne Adams, Warren J. Blumenfeld, Carmelita Castaneda, Heather Hackman, Madeline L. Peters and Ximena ZunigaThe Courage Way – Leading and Living With Integrity-Shelley L. Francis and Parker J. Palmer    

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