As a Community
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.
Commitment from Westside Leadership
Creating a Safe Community using Pronouns
Sharing and using correct pronouns is one way to build an inclusive and safe space for all Westside community members. Some ways we model this at Westside are:
- Including pronouns in email signature.
- Wearing pronoun pins on school ID lanyards.
- Having pronoun pins accessible for students.
- Stating pronouns in introductions (My name is____and my pronouns are____.)
- Using they/them or the name until correct pronouns are made clear.
- Respecting that not all students or community members may be comfortable sharing their pronouns or may only share their pronouns in confidence.
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.
2023-2024 EQUITY & INCLUSION SPEAKER SERIES
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.