Diversity & Inclusion Initiative

Introduction

Episcopal schools across the country are working purposefully to ensure we embody the core tenets of our Christian faith by being spaces where all people feel like they belong. Our mission statement highlights this in two places: first by stating we are open to “families of all backgrounds and faiths” which makes us unique amongst many area religious schools. Secondly, we strive to cultivate “virtuous global citizens” which means we understand the importance of our children knowing how to exist in harmony with the many different ways of being human. A global citizen can cooperate and communicate across cultures, religions, and languages. A virtuous global citizen does this with a sense of respect and fellowship.

I am pleased to announce that our Board of Trustees has created a Diversity and Inclusion Committee which will help continue these most important aspects of our Episcopal mission. This committee consists of myself, teachers, board members, St. Thomas Church vestry members, and non-board parents with a passion for the work. Two critical goals established by the committee earlier this summer were to identify a curriculum that would help teachers to guide our children, and the establishment of a scholarship fund so that we may expand the economic diversity of our family community.

This is the first of a new series of newsletters which will be published quarterly to highlight the impact that our Diversity and Inclusion initiative has on our St. Thomas family. Thank you for being part of our family, and for helping us be the living hands and feet of Jesus in the world.

Mr. O’Neal
Head of School

Our Episcopal values call us to learn about other faith traditions.

School-wide our students learned about the Jewish tradition of posting a mezuzah and made their own classroom mezuzahs to post outside their classrooms.
Students also studied the celebration of Dia de los Muertos as an interdisciplinary unit across Spanish, Art, and Chapel.
Each class made their own ofrenda (top and bottom left) which they decorated and used to celebrate the memory of a loved one who has passed on.

Lessons from Learning for Justice

formerly known as Teaching Tolerance

This summer, St. Thomas teachers worked to research and adopt an appropriate and comprehensive curriculum program for teaching topics related to Diversity and Inclusion. They unanimously chose Teaching Tolerance because of its range of lessons and quality of materials. Here are some examples of the learning activities students have done in class.

5th graders had an opportunity to interview their parents about their family’s immigrant story and present their findings to the class. Here is Erkki discussing Finland.
4th grade started the year off with a project about exploring their personal identity to understand how they have grown and changed over time. Later, they interviewed grandparents about their lives to learn how childhood was similar and different in previous generations.
Third graders did a lesson about helping others and sometimes needing help ourselves.
Students were prompted to consider how they would physically help someone, like reading a book to someone who is blind.
Second grade read the book "It's Okay to Be Different."
Second graders talked about how they were all like different puzzle pieces but they all fit together as one whole.

First grade performed an African pourquoi tale titled “Why Frogs and Snakes Don’t Play Together” and discussed why it is important to be able to play with those who are different than you.

Kindergarten held an International Festival to explore family traditions from their country of ancestry or origin. Parents and grandparents came to share cultural traditions, information and foods as children went from one booth to another. They had representatives from: China, South Africa, Mexico, England, Ireland, Czech Republic, and Germany!

Student Opportunity, Diversity and Inclusion Fund

This exciting new initiative is intended to help expand the economic diversity of the student body at St. Thomas. Our goal this year is to generate $11,000 of funds to be placed in a restricted account, and awarded to fund a student’s education and associated expenses.

We are pleased to announce that in our first month of launching this scholarship fund, we have already raised over $3,000 towards our goal.

If you would like to contribute, please contact our Head of School, Colin O’Neal, at coneal@stesnb.org to discuss. Checks can be written to STAES and add “Diversity Fund” in the memo. You can donate by credit card using the button below. *Note* please send an email to Mr. O’Neal letting him know about your donation and the amount if you decide to donate online so that we may accurately track and place your donation in the proper account.

  • $400 provides a full uniform for one student for the full year.
  • $1,000 provides one after school enrichment class for one student for the full year.
  • $11,000 provides full tuition for one student for one year.

Donors who provide multi-year pledges will receive special updates on the class in which the student(s) they sponsor are enrolled. Named scholarship opportunities are also available.

We ask that you join us now to raise the foundations of the next generation by making a donation to the Student Opportunity, Diversity and Inclusion Fund.

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