“We must have courage in the times we live in. Great souls are needed, souls having the interests of God at heart.” - St. Julie Billiart, Foundress, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur
- Oct. 27, 2020: A note about Halloween
- Sept. 22, 2020: Important Update - Student Allies Affinity Group
- Articles about Affinity Spaces
- Community Conversation Norms
- Snapshot of Maryvale's Ongoing DE&I Work
- June 20, 2020: Making Changes
- June 19, 2020: In Honor of Juneteenth
- June 18, 2020: We are Listening - Our Next Steps for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism
- May 30, 2020
Dear Maryvale Families,
We hope this email finds you well and that you're gearing up for the fall weather! We are writing with a few reminders as we head into the Halloween season. While Halloween is a magical time to dress up and make believe, it's also critical that we practice empathy and ensure that the costumes we wear are appropriate. Keeping with the Maryvale Way, we want to ensure that respect, dignity and inclusivity are at the center of all that we do at Maryvale.
While it is rare that costumes are selected with malicious intentions, we caution you to consider intent versus impact. The impact of "dressing up" as people of other cultures, races, religions, etc., can be much greater than the intent. When people of minority cultures, races, religions, etc. are positioned to be the "other" in our society (via dressing up and characterization), there are consequences that can reveal themselves in how these groups are treated, both systemically and interpersonally. For example, dressing up as an Indigenous person in a headdress and body paint dishonors and ignores the spiritual traditions of those people.
If your daughter is wearing a costume this Halloween outside of school or taking photos and posting them on social media, we ask you to consider the broader implications of her costume choice. This Halloween season, in an effort to avoid the perpetuation of stereotypes, we suggest asking yourselves and your children the following questions as you consider costumes:
1. Are you using makeup to denote a skin tone other than your own?
2. Does your costume mock or appropriate cultural or religious symbols?
3. Does the name of your costume include an ethnicity in its title?
4. Are you wearing garments or accessories traditional to a culture?
5. Are you dressed as an offensive historical figure?
6. Is your costume funny because it makes light of human suffering, oppression, etc.?
7. Is your costume a stereotype of an entire culture or ethnicity?
8. Is your costume kind towards people of all identities with particular regard to race, gender, ethnicity, religion and ability?
(These questions were adapted from Friends School and Ryerson Student Affairs).
Check out this thought-provoking video from Teen Vogue, which offers unique perspectives about how costuming affects people.
Please contact us with specific questions or concerns. Thank you for all that you do for Maryvale!
Jessica Vitrano Randisi '01
Assistant Upper School Head/Dean of Students
Director of Diversity and Inclusion
Emily Vitrano Waugh '03
Director of Middle School Student Life/Science Teacher
The following letter was sent to the Maryvale community on Sept. 22, 2020:
Dear Maryvale Families,
It has been brought to our attention that the recent communication about a new affinity group, “White Student Allies for Racial Justice,” has received negative feedback from the Maryvale community. We have heard your concerns and respectfully ask that you read this letter in its entirety to better understand our intention.
The term “affinity group” refers to a gathering of people who share a similar identity. The purpose of this particular affinity group is to create a space for students who do not have a shared experience as Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) to draw on as part of their work to become effective allies. Students who wish to be allies in racial justice must engage in education so that they can develop allyship skills in an environment that supports this critical work.
Importantly, creating opportunities for students to learn allyship skills, through affinity work, is a best practice recommendation from the National Association of Independent Schools, as well as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion experts, for building anti-racist communities.
We are renaming the group, “Student Allies for Racial Justice,” and will welcome all students who wish to become allies for their BIPOC sisters. The affinity group will welcome feedback as well as group membership from Maryvale’s BIPOC sisters, should they choose to participate; however, we recognize that it is not the responsibility of BIPOC students to educate their white sisters about their experiences. As we continue this work, we know more conversations are needed.
The creation of an affinity group for student allies is part of our ongoing plan to promote Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Maryvale and is fully supported by the administration, which includes our Director of Diversity & Inclusion, Kalea Selmon. As we have stated previously and will continue to reinforce through our actions, Maryvale is dedicated to building and advancing a respectful and compassionate culture that embraces diversity, equity, justice and inclusion.
Tracey H. Ford
Dr. Victor Shin
Upper School Head/Assistant Head of School
To learn more about Maryvale’s commitment to promoting Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, please read the articles in the "Articles about Affinity Spaces" tab below.
If you wish to read and learn more about affinity spaces, we invite you to read the following articles:
- Frequently Asked Questions about Affinity Groups in K-12 Schools
- Identity, Affinity, Reality
- White on White : Exploring White Racial Identity, Privilege and Racism
- What White Children Need to Know About Race
- Becoming an Anti-Racist White Ally: How a White Affinity Group Can Help
- Helping Whites Develop Anti-Racist Identities: Overcoming Their Resistance to Fighting Racism.
- White Anti-Racism Affinity Groups: I used to be a Skeptic, But Now I’m an Evangelist
- Going to the Root: How White Caucuses Contribute to Racial Justice
- Paying Attention to White Culture and Privileges: A Missing Link to Advancing Racial Equity
- Why People of Color Need Spaces Without White People
- Racial Identity Caucuses
- How Racial Affinity Groups Saved My Life
- Five Things you should know about Affinity Groups
What follows is a snapshot of Maryvale's ongoing diversity, equity and inclusion work:
- Factuality by Administrative Team.
- The Pollyanna Curriculum is being introduced into the Middle School curriculum:
- Middle School faculty participated in training.
- Infusion in Middle School leadership and advisory programming.
- Courageous Conversation training for members of Maryvale's leadership team, staff and chair of the Board of Trustees.
- Faculty/staff professional development is ongoing throughout summer 2020.
- Preparing to expand affinity group offerings across the Maryvale community to students, faculty, staff, parents and alumnae.
- Diversity consultant Jen Cort provided facilitation training for faculty, staff and administration.
- Hosted meetings with Black alumnae, Families of Color and Black Student Union student leadership during Summer 2020.
- Upcoming meetings with Allies are being scheduled.
- Maryvale administrators facilitated conversations for AIMS with different affinity groups.
- Revisions to the Maryvale student handbook, with an eye to inclusion, are complete and will be circulated to families for the 2020-2021 school year.
This list will continue to be updated.
The following letter was sent to the Maryvale community on June 20, 2020:
Dear Members of the Maryvale Community,
Last week, Maryvale hosted a meeting for Black Alumnae to bring together our community, listen to each other and discuss meaningful ways we can make Maryvale a more inclusive experience. More than 35 women, representing the Classes of 1971 to 2020, offered perspectives. We were inspired by their candor and their passion to evolve Maryvale's Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism Initiatives. We are listening and we are making changes.
We recognize now that our efforts to foster diversity and inclusion at Maryvale have not been enough. We stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and we are committed to reflecting our Catholic values of anti-racism and social justice in all facets of the Maryvale experience.
Our pledge to you is to create a comprehensive Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism program that is actionable and measurable to address changes needed within our institution. Our first six months will be focused on action items related to training and education, curriculum and procedural updates, the creation of affinity groups and policy improvements. We have a goal to formalize this program and begin implementation by Aug. 31.
We are taking immediate steps to:
- Convene the Board of Trustees on July 29 to set specific diversity, equity and inclusion goals for our entire Maryvale community, which will be included in our 2020-2022 Strategic Plan.
- Provide Summer 2020 Professional Development & Training on racial equity and inclusion for faculty, staff and our Board of Trustees.
- Make updates to the Fall 2020-21 curriculum.
- Facilitate open discussions around racial identity, equity and white privilege through the creation of affinity groups for students, parents, faculty and alumnae.
We will continue to update our website with more details on some of the initiatives we currently have in place.
If you would like to sign up to receive regular updates about this and upcoming events and announcements in support of racial equity, allyship and our ongoing Diversity, Inclusion, Equity and Anti-Racism initiatives, please email Colleen Rives at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Creating an inclusive and equitable Maryvale community requires reflection, commitment, and deliberate action. We are committed to ensuring everyone who engages with Maryvale - whether you are a student, a family member, a teacher or an alumna - feels respected at all times.
We look forward to more conversations and sharing measurable plans with you in the coming month. As always, please reach out to me at email@example.com if you have any concerns or questions.
We are listening!
These resources will help you learn more about Juneteenth, America's second Independence Day:
Today, June 19, 2020 is Juneteenth, a day that is considered a second “Independence Day.” Juneteenth is a holiday that commemorates the June 19, 1865 announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas and the emancipation of Black slaves throughout the Confederate South. This Emancipation did not finally come until General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas and issued General Order No. 3, almost two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
Although we cannot honor and celebrate Juneteenth together, we hope that you will take some time to pray this prayer sent from Sherita Thomas, Interim Director of the Office of Black Catholic Ministry for the Archdiocese of Baltimore and read and watch some of the articles and news clips below. There is also an abundance of information in other sources about Juneteenth and we encourage you to do some of your own research.
Enjoy this beautiful day, reflect on its meaning, and know that we miss you dearly.
Mrs. Ford, Mrs. Nicholas, Ms. Selmon and Dr. Shin
So you Want to Learn about Juneteenth? - The New York Times
What is Juneteenth? by Henry Louis Gates Jr.
The following letter was sent to the Maryvale community on June 18, 2020:
Summer 2020 Professional Development & Training for Faculty and Staff
Faculty and staff will participate in 3-3.5 hours of instructional time and at least two summer discussion group meetings. The Professional Development selections will include:
- Healing the Racial Water: a half-day Anti-Racist workshop with Dr. Robin DiAngelo
- Uplifting Women and Girls of Color Through Antiracist Pedagogy, Practice, and Policies
- Teaching, Loving, and Believing in Black Girls
- Identity, Race and the Classroom
- Navigating Difficult Conversations: Building Trust
- Let’s Talk! Discussing Race, Racism and Other Difficult Topics With Students
- Equity Matters: Confronting Implicit Bias
- Let’s Talk! Discussing Whiteness
- Let’s Talk! Black Lives Matter
- What is White Privilege, Really?
- The Color of the Law
- Let’s Talk! Discussing Black Lives Matter with Students
- How to be an Ally in the Classroom
2020-2021 Curriculum Changes
Beginning in the 2020-2021 school year, Maryvale’s Social Studies curriculum will include The Choices Program, which draws on scholarship conducted at Brown University and beyond to produce innovative curriculum and videos that make contested international current and historical events accessible, engaging and relevant to secondary school audiences.
Our current World Religion course, which is a required class for seniors, will be expanded to include World Religions II. This course studies various lesser known religions practiced throughout the world. Students will gain a deeper understanding of their own faith while appreciating the belief system of others.
Anti-Racism Educational Resources
Maryvale faculty participate in our annual “Summer Reading List” program where they are assigned discussion groups upon our return to school. Among the recent titles our staff are required to read:
- Why are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria by Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D
- Becoming by Michelle Obama
- Not in My Neighborhood: How Bigotry Shaped a Great American City by Antero Pietila
- Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving
Over the past several years, renowned speakers visit Maryvale to share their perspectives of the world with students, faculty and trustees. We welcomed the following speakers in the past and plan to expand this speaker series in the future.
- Dr. Howard Stevenson, Constance Clayton Professor of Urban Education, University of Pennsylvania, a national expert on how racial stress and trauma can affect every stage of life.
- Rosetta Lee, Educator and Diversity Consultant, Seattle Girls’ School, whose classroom expertise includes facilitation skills, anti-bullying, and empowerment for all students.
- Jen Cort, Educational Consultant on equity, diversity, inclusion and justice work, whose training and experience was most recently utilized with our Middle School students this winter.
- Johnnie Foreman, Director of Community and Diversity at Gilman School and one of the first professionals to begin this work in Baltimore area schools, who conducted training for the Leadership Team and presentations for our Board of Trustees.
We continue to look for new speakers. If you or someone you know should be part of our series, please let us know. We welcome speakers of all backgrounds to share their unique experiences and perspectives.
NAIS People of Color Conference
For the past three years, Maryvale has sent a cohort of administrators and faculty to the National Association of Independent School’s (NAIS) People of Color Conference. Students attend as a part of the Student Diversity Leadership Conference. These experiences challenge our thinking and our perspectives. We plan to continue to send faculty, so that we can continue to listen, learn and grow as a community.
CREATING AN INCLUSIVE COMMUNITY
Director of Diversity & Inclusion
Since 2013, a Director of Diversity and Inclusion has been a member of the school’s Leadership Team. Current Director Kalea Selmon is an active member of the administration, a direct contact for students and families of color, and a leader in diversity programming for the Association of Independent Maryland Schools (AIMS) and the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur Student leadership Conference. Kalea has an open door policy and welcomes any comments or concerns from our Maryvale Community. Reach out to her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Student Affinity Groups
In 2019, Maryvale student organizations created a Black Student Union and Asian Student Union. These Unions provide a space for students of shared affinities to come together in an environment where they make up the majority, discuss shared experiences and build a network for mutual support.
The following letter was sent to the Maryvale community on May 30, 2020:
Dear Members of the Maryvale Community,
In the midst of the pandemic which has impacted virtually every aspect of what was life as each of it knew it, I did not expect that there would be yet another grief that would be inflicted, a singular death, in a time of countless deaths. Yet, there it was this week. This victim, George Floyd, did not die from COVID-19 but from another deadly strain - racism - this time filmed in real time, for the world to watch.
This morning, I write to you with sadness and frustration amidst the senseless incidences of racism that Black citizens in this country continue to experience. Talking with my daughter in Denver and family and friends in Baltimore, I have spent time over these past few days trying to process this death. I am listening to and learning from Black people and determining what it means for me to stand an as ally with those who do not have the same privileges as I.
I want to express my deep empathy for and compassion toward the members of the Black community at Maryvale: students, faculty, staff, alumnae, parents and families. I can only imagine how you feel as you consume the images and headlines on the news and social media. To our Black students, on behalf of the administration and your teachers, please know that we are committed to making our school community a place where you can be seen, heard and safe.
Keeping with the mission of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Maryvale is committed to the work of social justice and anti-racism. We do not tolerate racism and we will continue to speak against actions that are rooted in racial bias and cause harm to members of our community.
As we seek to develop young female leaders, it is essential that we prepare all of our students to be change agents in this unjust world. We understand that making sure students are prepared to confront racial inequity is a critical part of our work as educators. And we ask our parents to partner with us by helping our students to process this recent event.
The world we live in continues to be more complicated. As we navigate these difficult and unprecedented times, we must continue to center love and respect for others. Your continued partnership, as Maryvale continues its journey to become a more inclusive community, is needed now more than ever.
In hopes for a brighter future,
Tracey H. Ford
There are many resources on this topic that are available. Here is a sampling of some of those resources:
Articles to read:
- “America’s Racial Contract Is Killing Us” by Adam Serwer | Atlantic (May 8, 2020)
- Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement (Mentoring a New Generation of Activists
- ”My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant” by Jose Antonio Vargas | NYT Mag (June 22, 2011)
- Research Insights: Black Girls’ Experiences in Independent Schools by Charlotte E. Jacobs and Ramona Weber | NAIS Magazine
- The 1619 Project (all the articles) | The New York Times Magazine
- “The Intersectionality Wars” by Jane Coaston | Vox (May 28, 2019)
- Tips for Creating Effective White Caucus Groups developed by Craig Elliott PhD
- ”White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Knapsack Peggy McIntosh
- “Who Gets to Be Afraid in America?” by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi | Atlantic (May 12, 2020)
Videos to watch:
- Black Feminism & the Movement for Black Lives: Barbara Smith, Reina Gossett, Charlene Carruthers (50:48)
- "How Studying Privilege Systems Can Strengthen Compassion" | Peggy McIntosh at TEDxTimberlaneSchools (18:26)
Podcasts to subscribe to:
- 1619 (New York Times)
- About Race
- Code Switch (NPR)
- Third Space with Jen Cort
- Intersectionality Matters! hosted by Kimberlé Crenshaw
- Momentum: A Race Forward Podcast
- Pod For The Cause (from The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights)
- Pod Save the People (Crooked Media)
- Seeing White
- Teaching while white
- The Combahee River Collective Statement
Books to read:
- Black girls must die exhausted: A novel for grown-ups by Jayne Allen
- Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People by Mahzarin R. Banaji, Anthony G. Greenwald
- Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Dr. Brittney Cooper
- How To Be An Antiracist by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi
- Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
- Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad
- Post-traumatic Slave Syndrome by Dr. Joy DeGruy
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
- The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
by Michelle Alexander
- The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century
by Grace Lee Boggs
- The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
- This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color by Cherríe Moraga
- When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America by Ira Katznelson
- White Christian Privilege: the Illusion of Religious Equality in America by Khyati Johsi
- White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo, PhD
- For more books click here
Films and TV series to watch:
- 13th (Ava DuVernay) — Netflix
- American Son (Kenny Leon) — Netflix
- Black Power Mixtape: 1967-1975 — Available to rent
- Clemency (Chinonye Chukwu) — Available to rent
- Dear White People (Justin Simien) — Netflix
- Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler) — Available to rent
- I Am Not Your Negro (James Baldwin doc) — Available to rent or on Kanopy
- If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins) — Hulu
- Just Mercy (Destin Daniel Cretton) — Available to rent
- King In The Wilderness — HBO
- Little Fires Everywhere — Hulu
- See You Yesterday (Stefon Bristol) — Netflix
- Selma (Ava DuVernay) — Available to rent
- The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution — Available to rent
- The Hate U Give (George Tillman Jr.) — Hulu with Cinemax
- When They See Us (Ava DuVernay) — Netflix
Resources for white parents to raise anti-racist children:
- Check out these books for children and young adults from the list of Coretta Scott King Book Award Winners
- Listen to the Parenting Forward podcast episode ‘Five Pandemic Parenting Lessons with Cindy Wang Brandt’
- Listen to the Fare of the Free Child podcast
- Read PBS’s Teaching Your Child About Black History Month
- Follow The Conscious Kid on Instagram
Organizations to follow on social media:
- Antiracism Center: Twitter
- Audre Lorde Project: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- Black Women’s Blueprint: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- Color Of Change: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- Colorlines: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- The Conscious Kid: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- Equal Justice Initiative (EJI): Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- Families Belong Together: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- MPowerChange: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- Muslim Girl: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- NAACP: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- National Domestic Workers Alliance: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- RAICES: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ): Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- SisterSong: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- United We Dream: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
More anti-racism resources to check out:
- 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice
- Anti-Racism Project
- Jenna Arnold’s resources (books and people to follow)
- Rachel Ricketts’ anti-racism resources
- Resources for White People to Learn and Talk About Race and Racism
- Showing Up For Racial Justice’s educational toolkits
- Teaching Tolerance
- “Why is this happening?” — an introduction to police brutality from 100 Year Hoodie
- Zinn Education Project’s teaching materials
Inspired by the Hallmarks of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Maryvale Preparatory School is dedicated to building and advancing a respectful and compassionate culture that embraces diversity, equity, justice and inclusion.
We believe that our diversity is reflected in many facets among individuals including, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious belief, gender, age, sexual orientation, socio-economic background, learning style and ability. The Maryvale Board of Trustees, students, families, employees and alumnae celebrate and honor the diverse gifts that God bestows upon each person.
The Maryvale community is enriched and strengthened when all are able to act willingly, share openly and live securely without fear of judgment, ridicule or prejudice. We trust that the comprehensive experiences of a Maryvale education will enable students, as well as the members of the broader community, to value themselves and the dignity of others as leaders in a global community.
Approved by Maryvale's Board of Trustees on June 30, 2019.