This is our work. We might approach this collective call to action in different ways as parents, teachers, and leaders, but this is certainly the work of the whole. As leaders of the school, the Board of Trustees, Westside Family Association, and the school's administrative and educational leadership teams are committed to advancing our efforts to actively create equitable, inclusive, and anti-racist systems and institutions.
The Westside Board of Trustees is committed to a leadership role in the school’s DEB journey in which we will promote inclusiveness, diversity, and cultural competence in the school’s governance, employment practices, and school community.
In 2020, the Board launched a task force to research and identify the ideal structure to ensure integration of diversity, equity, and belonging within our institutional practices. We set goals for 1) individual trustee self-study to reflect on these concepts – leveraging a trove of articles, books, podcasts, and videos to build awareness around privilege, systemic racism, perceptions, and biases – and then conducted open conversations to share our learnings with other trustees; and 2) determining how and where to incorporate changes to our guiding principles, mission statement, by-laws, and procedures. Some trustees attended a workshop designed specifically for board members of independent schools.
The Board determined that a strong DEB practice is foundational and critical to the health of the school and warrants a permanent committee of the Board and formed this new committee in 2021. The Board has made significant changes to the school’s trustee handbook, formalizing acknowledgement and incorporation of DEB considerations within all of our committee work, and we adopted a Land Acknowledgement honoring the first peoples of the Duwamish on whose traditional lands Westside sits. The 2021-22 school year will see us further expand on trustees' DEB awareness and mindfulness practices, along with strong alignment with the WFA and school administrative leadership, and participation in the local independent schools Equity and Inclusion Speaker Series throughout the year.
The Westside Family Association aims to create an inclusive environment where all families are welcomed, feel seen and heard, and have access to resources when they need them. The Westside Family Association is guided by values grounded in anti-racism, equity, trust, and transparency. We provide education to support families through shared challenges, act as a connector between families of all grade levels to build and strengthen the school community, and empower families to support the school in ways that are meaningful to them.
Westside’s administrative leadership and Educational Leadership Team (ELT) are committed to promoting inclusiveness, diversity, and cultural competence in our classrooms, curriculum content, and school community.
The ELT consists of our three Division Heads, two assistant Division Heads, our Directors of Counseling/SEL, Technology, and Outdoor Education, as well as our Head of School. It is a group that collectively examines our practices and curriculum across all three divisions and shapes our program, both now and into the future.
With the ELT’s leadership and support, our teachers are challenged and encouraged to evaluate their teaching tools and further their thinking to support the school’s DEIA goals. These teaching tools include formal curriculum, choice of materials, language that our teachers use with students and each other, professional development opportunities, and more.
In order to support and sustain an inclusive community, our ELT understands the responsibility of our educators to grow their cultural competence. We know our educators influence the expectations and norms of our culture. Therefore it is important that faculty and staff learn to enhance the development of skills and knowledge to serve students from diverse backgrounds effectively.
Growing Our Collective Competency
In order to support and sustain an inclusive community, we know it is the responsibility of all community members to grow their cultural competence. We know our adult community influences the expectations and norms of our culture. Therefore it is important that faculty and staff participate in a broad range of programs that help enhance the development of skills and knowledge needed to effectively serve students from diverse backgrounds.
Workshops and Professional Development
Each year Westside has all-school professional development days focused on anti-racist and anti-based teaching strategies. We have partnered with Dr. Heather Clark from the University of Washington to build institutional capacity. Since 2021, cultural competence has been wrapped into the evaluation process for faculty, with each teacher completing a cycle of observations with Dr. Heather Clark to improve their practice.
People of Color Conference
Each year, Westside sends a team of teachers and staff to participate in the People of Color Conference through NAIS. The PoCC is the flagship of NAIS’s commitment to equity and justice in teaching, learning, and organizational development. The mission of the conference is to provide a safe space for leadership and professional development for people of color, and networking for people of color and allies of all backgrounds in independent schools. Westside is committed to sending educators to PoCC to not only advance our institutions' learning and growth but more importantly to uplift, sustain, and affirm educators from the Global Majority.
PoCC equips educators at every level, from teachers to trustees, with knowledge and skills to improve the interracial, interethnic, and intercultural climate in their schools, as well as the attending academic, social-emotional, and workplace performance outcomes for students and adults alike.
"Most professional development trainings for teachers are content-focused and led by white educators. This lens is limiting - it's often colorblind, which means it gives us only a handful of ways to access and understand what is being taught. PoCC prioritizes presenters of color, and it is about issues facing People of Color. The conference theme, inherently, puts more effort toward acknowledging the many ways our racial identities influence our experiences as educators.” ~ Kalei Sabaratnam, MS Ethics & Equity Teacher
Small School BIPOC Affinity Group for Faculty
In an effort to strengthen our support of faculty of color, a number of small independent schools in Seattle have gotten together to build a multi-school BIPOC Affinity Space (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color). Jabali Stewart, a local diversity practitioner, is the group's facilitator. The primary purpose of this space is to give faculty a safe and confidential space to discuss their experiences in navigating mostly white educational institutions. This group is meeting monthly and several Westside faculty are connecting, learning, and growing through this opportunity.
Partner Schools: Bertschi, Explorer West, Giddens School, Hamlin Robinson, Lake Washington Girls Middle School, Seattle Girls' School, Seattle School for Boys, Valley School, Westside School
Hiring & Retention
Westside strives to design and implement an equitable and inclusive hiring process. We are committed to promoting inclusiveness, diversity, and cultural competence in our hiring and employment practices. It is our goal to recruit, hire, and retain culturally competent educators with a focus on increasing the BIPOC population in our community. We review our hiring practices annually, with the expressed goal of creating equitable and inclusive processes.
Recent updates to our hiring procedures include:
All hiring directors attend the NWAIS Seeking Cultural Competence in Hiring Training.
All hiring committees discuss their bias prior to starting the search process.
Cultural Competency interview questions are embedded in each interview stage.
All hiring committees use applicant and hiring rubrics.
Recent updates to our retention efforts include:
All faculty are now evaluated on cultural competence and racial literacy benchmarks.
All Faculty of Color have the opportunity to participate in the NAIS PoCC and a Small-School BIPOC Affinity Space.
Supervisors openly ask and reflect upon employees work experience in our predominantly white educational institution.
Westside School is excited to partner with local independent schools to bring the Equity & Inclusion Speaker Series to our communities. The purpose of this series is to raise awareness, challenge ourselves, deepen understanding, and empower our communities to advance their efforts to actively recreate systems into equitable, inclusive, and antiracist institutions.
Westside School has a few remaining spots available in kindergarten and preschool for the 2023-2024 school year! Contact Director of Admission, Ted Holmes, at email@example.com for more information.