November 05, 2019

Thought-provoking workshops and conversation at AISNE conference

Furthers PA’s commitment around equity & inclusion
by Tracy Sweet

Living its commitment to knowledge and goodness and educating youth from every quarter, Andover has devoted tremendous resources to the professional development of colleagues around diversity, equity and inclusion. Since the implementation of the 2014 Strategic Plan, nearly every faculty member and more than half of Andover’s 500+ staff and administrators have taken part in on-campus workshops or off-campus continuing education.

“As we approach success on our 2020 initiative for all faculty completing DEI training, Andover will continue to expand professional development opportunities to ensure that faculty and staff and administrators are afforded the best resources and education in cultural competency and personal growth,” said Linda Carter Griffith, associate head of school for equity, inclusion and wellness.

Last week, more than 25 staff, faculty, and administrators joined hundreds of educators from across New England at the annual diversity conference organized by the Association for Independent Schools in New England (AISNE). In addition to keynote presentations by authors and advocates Ali Michael and Philip McAdoo, breakout sessions were led by thought leaders and colleagues from peer schools.

Through continued training, and education, we have gained a deeper understanding of how micro-aggressions negatively impact performance and how implicit bias plays a role in our everyday decisions.

Linda Carter Griffith associate head of school for equity, inclusion and wellness

“The adults on our campus recognize the significance of culture and identity in our lives and in the lives of our students,” Griffith continued. “Through continued training, and education, we have gained a deeper understanding of how micro-aggressions negatively impact performance and how implicit bias plays a role in our everyday decisions.”

AISNE workshops included opportunities for personal growth as well as analysis of institutional practices. Discussions throughout the day covered a range of topics including race, class, gender, sexual identity, and ability. Deb Olander co-presented a case study with Ali Michael based on their partnership in establishing AWARE, Andover’s White Anti-Racist Education group. Participants exchanged ideas for establishing similar groups on their campuses.

“It was gratifying to see so many colleagues from across campus,” said Olander. Andover participants spanned a number of academic and administrative offices, including the Business Office, Addison, (MS)2, Communications, Technology, Tang, Spanish, and Physics, to name a few. “I view equity and inclusion work as ongoing practice, and a day spent immersed in this work with dedicated colleagues and thought leaders is always energizing.”

“Engaging in deep thinking and institutional reflection—in sometimes difficult conversations—is necessary,” added LaShawn Springer, director of CAMD, “especially as we consider the type of communities we’re cultivating for our young people and the responsibility we hope they share in that endeavor.”

Springer introduced keynote speaker Philip McAdoo, whose book Independent Queers has served as a resource for schools across the nation while emphasizing the importance of storytelling and narrative as tools for justice.

“In reading those pieces, I was reminded of the stories I heard last year at the 30th Anniversary of our GSA, especially from alumna Sharon Tanterelli as she worked to establish one of the first GSAs in independent schools. It was a moment of celebration, but also a reckoning, for those whose collective trauma and enduring resilience helped to make Andover a more just and equitable place…These moments of speaking truth to power, of bearing witness, are not easy; we can't ever take them for granted when offered by our students, alumni, and colleagues.”

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