“Enhance our fundamental Episcopal identity by furthering our commitment to a community that pursues and celebrates faith, diversity, belonging, and love for all.”
— Community Commitment, from the 2021 St. Albans School Strategic Plan
Dear St. Albans Community,
We hope that you are all doing well. This has certainly been an interesting start to the new year as we have adjusted daily to address challenges presented by the Omicron surge and the inclement weather. While much of our energy has been focused on the urgent (e.g., replacing a collapsed tent, removing snow, updating dining and masking protocols), we are mindful not to lose focus on our critical long-term strategic objectives shared this summer
in our new St. Albans School Strategic Plan
Reflected in the plan is our desire to preserve and expand St. Albans as “a sacred space for all,” where community members are known, embraced, and valued equally and independently as critical members of a varied and vibrant whole. Our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts remain central to fulfilling that aspiration. Below, we share some of our progress this school year, including an update on our planned Day of Reflection in recognition of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Reflection
On Tuesday, January 18, at 9:00 am, St. Albans boys will participate in a tri-school Cathedral service in honor of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The speaker for the occasion will be Miss Yolanda King, the 13-year-old granddaughter of Dr. King. This will be an historic moment, as Yolanda speaks in the Canterbury Pulpit where her grandfather preached his last Sunday sermon. Schools around the nation have been invited to watch the livestream of this service. St. Albans families are also welcome to watch the service via this live stream
For the past two years, we have participated in workshops and community service opportunities. These activities involve sending our boys out into the community and inviting several guest speakers to campus. Because of COVID protocols, we have postponed the workshops and community service activities that were planned for Tuesday. Instead, this programming will fold into our Diversity Forum scheduled for April 20 with the theme Embracing Community: Unity in Diversity.
In our Strategic Plan, we commit to examining continually how we may deepen and extend the sense of belonging vital to ensure that every student – each with distinctive experiences, passions, personalities, and backgrounds – is known, supported, and valued. In furtherance of this commitment, I am pleased to share that we have hired the Glasgow Group to conduct a DEI assessment. The assessment will gather community-wide experiences and perspectives on belonging and inclusion at St. Albans to help us better understand areas for growth in our efforts to be a diverse, equitable, inclusive, and just community.
Previously, St. Albans worked with Glasgow Group founder Dr. Rodney Glasgow to conduct training for our affinity group facilitators. His team brings extensive experience in Episcopal communities and a long history of working with independent schools as DEI practitioners supporting leadership, cultural competency, and strategic initiatives. Rodney and his team are scheduled to begin their work in late January. Please keep an eye out for an initial survey to collect direct community feedback and input.
Our affinity group program has been thriving within the school day in the Upper School and in Forms I and II. Some of the Upper School groups have had opportunities to meet with their counterparts at National Cathedral School. The affinity groups will also offer “open-house” workshops and discussions during the April Diversity Forum. Students will be invited to attend any group of their choosing along with other workshop offerings during these special sessions within the Diversity Forum program.
Student DEI Workshops
The Lower School is engaging in quarterly form DEI workshops taught by Mr. Blake Sundel, who this fall began teaching Form II English and working with Kristin Elliott, STA’s director of DEI. Workshops have been focused on character development, personal formation, and embracing community.
Parent Book Discussions
We are continuing to offer two book discussion opportunities to boys' parents and guardians each year, and we are delighted that NCS has partnered with us in this program. Our most recent discussion took place on December 7 and focused on Disability Visibility, a collection of over 30 personal essays edited by Alice Wong, a disability rights activist. Participants at the event were invited to reflect on particular passages and to discuss perspectives that they encountered in the book. Some families also chose to share personal experiences.
STA Families Program
Last spring, we piloted the STA Families Program with a cohort of 14 STA families, representing both divisions of the school. During four evening sessions, our families shared stories and discussed thought-provoking topics in an effort to build empathy, to mitigate bias, and to find ways in which we are similar. Families who participate in the program will be invited to attend ongoing events throughout the school year. We will begin a new cohort of this program in the fall of 2022. Some families have already filled out the registration form to join the program. Registration will open again this spring.
Thank you to all who have participated in and led these important programs. We look forward to working together to ensure St. Albans is a sacred space where all are known, embraced, and valued.
Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Chair, Governing Board Diversity Committee