The photos above show Miss Porter’s students engaging with equity and inclusion work at a variety of events sponsored by the Office of Equity & Inclusion, including the Young Women of Color Conference in May 2019, Porter’s Community Day with Dr. Liza Talusan in September 2019, and the student-conceived Diversity Summit in February 2020.
The mission of Miss Porter’s School demands constant examination of the dynamics of inequality in the world and in our school. In order to achieve institutional excellence, each member of the community must interrogate their privilege, biases, and complicity in oppressive structures. The Office of Equity & Inclusion provides resources and guides collaboration as each department and office engage in ongoing evaluation of their programs and policies. The obligations of our mission statement call us to reflect, implement positive change, and create a truly equitable, inclusive, and just school community.
The Office of Equity & Inclusion takes a holistic view of our community in order to support the Miss Porter’s School mission. We identify areas where inequities still exist, meet people where they are, and respond to their needs. We actively create spaces for mistakes, reflection, and growth where everyone in the community can learn across differences and move towards justice.
The Office of Equity & Inclusion works in partnership with all departments on campus to engage our full community in conversation. We seek to:
Our mission demands that our graduates be bold, resourceful, ethical, global citizens who are ready to shape a changing world. In order to achieve this, our community must learn about how different words have historically demeaned, disenfranchised, and dehumanized people based on their identities. We must also consider the ways in which language either affirms people’s identities and experiences, or creates exclusion and harm based on those identities. The work of creating a community rooted in the inherent worth and dignity of each member begins with a deep interrogation of the words that we use when learning together, growing together, and being together. Each year we welcome a new group of students and adults to our campus, and it is our collective responsibility to ensure that our school’s values are mirrored in the conversations we have in the classroom, dorm rooms, on the fields, and everywhere in between.
Within our academic programming, students may be required to read, view, or discuss a text or other medium that uses offensive language and/or derogatory terms or slurs. Teachers will provide students with a content preview and forewarning whenever this type of language will be present in class texts and/or videos. Teachers will also provide the contextual information necessary to help students understand the purpose and intent of its use within a text or other mediums. Because language and offensive terms are always evolving, it is possible that a teacher may miss a content warning. Students should notify their teacher and engage in dialogue about the concern.
Members of the MPS community may experience the use of offensive language within casual conversations, music, films, social media, or other mediums. We expect that people in our community will not repeat or use this language in their own conversations with each other and we also expect community members to intervene when they encounter language that they know is harmful, offensive, or derogatory. If additional support is needed or desired, resources will be available through our Office of Student Life, Office of Equity & Inclusion, or through our Human Resources office.
Alliances are student-led networks open to the entire community that aim to educate others on topics of diversity and foster an empathetic environment through collaborative learning, discussion, and respectful dissent. The following are the vision and mission statements of the Alliances as written by the student leaders and advisors in charge of each respective group in September 2019 (ISA written June 2020).
The ASA provides support for our Asian communities by recognizing their cultural and ethnic complexities, raising awareness for Asian political and social issues, and fostering belonging within the Asian community as well as allyship with the wider community at Porter’s.
The ASA strives to give authentic voice to our Asian community without compromising cultural values. We intend to challenge community perceptions, as well as acknowledge and explore the complexity of Asian identities. We will provide opportunities to celebrate the diverse Asian history and culture represented here at Porter’s.
The Black and Latinx Alliance seeks to close the social and cultural gaps around Black and Latinx identities. We strive to equip those within and beyond the Black and Latinx identities, who are ready, with the tools they need to be effective allies.
The Black & Latinx Alliance engages and educates the entire community with the purpose of celebrating diverse Black and Latinx cultures at Miss Porter’s School.
EleMental will work to de-stigmatize mental illness and neuro-atypicality at Miss Porter’s School by redefining campus culture to be more accepting of all students. EleMental will hold both affinity meetings and alliance meetings that are focused on educating and supporting the community. Members will share individual experiences and growth moments as well as use media to spark conversations related to mental differences. We will collaborate with alliances on campus to create conversations and spread awareness about intersectionality and the distinct effects that mental illness and neuro-atypicality have on people with different identifiers. EleMental will work closely with both the administration and the wellness center on campus to be the bridge for neuro-atypical students and students struggling with mental illness.
EleMental hopes to promote conversations about mental illness, mental health, mental capabilities, and neuro-atypicality on campus. EleMental will work towards creating a community that is accepting and accommodating to those struggling with mental illness, including the social skill development aspects of mental differences. EleMental will seek to educate and empower those who live with mental differences.
The International Student Advisory (ISA) will be a space for all international students’ voices to be heard and needs to be met. ISA strives to equip all international students with resources and support so that they feel at home on campus and, as such, can thrive at Miss Porter’s School. ISA will work to create a culture of acceptance and belonging of all international students on campus and will raise awareness about complex international affairs in an effort to promote institution-wide allyship for international students.
The International Student Advisory (ISA) is a student-driven support network for all international students at Miss Porter’s School. ISA meets regularly throughout the academic year to clarify, improve, and implement policies and protocols for international students, such as airport transportation, summer storage, local family ambassadors, visa processing, and on-campus home-country celebrations. ISA explores and addresses the complexities of being an international student, while simultaneously uplifting all cultures and backgrounds through fellowship.
Spectrum will lead Porter’s towards being a community which is as inclusive and safe to LGBTQ+ people as it is for cisgender and heterosexual people.
Spectrum is a network of support for LGBTQ+ students. We work with the administration to clarify and improve policies surrounding LGBTQ+ individuals in our community. Additionally, we hope to give those who do not identify the tools to be effective allies both at Porter’s and beyond. Spectrum empowers everyone to affect change.
Affinity groups are spaces created around a shared common identity. An affinity group is a space for individuals who identify as members of the group identifier and can speak to the experiences of being a member of the group from the “I” perspective.
The Faculty and Staff of Color Affinity group provides a space for adults in the Miss Porter’s School community who identify as people of color to meet on a monthly basis both on campus and off campus with colleagues of color at other independent schools. This space is critical to the retention of faculty and staff of color because it provides an opportunity for adults that identify as people of color to come together, support each other, and build community.
ConstellAsians: Asian and Pacific Islander Student Affinity
HOLA: Hispanic & Latinx Student Affinity
Jewish Student Affinity
Muslim Student Affinity
Sister2Sister: Black & African American Student Affinity
Student of Color Affinity
We understand the importance of creating space for white adults and white students to navigate their own racial identity and affirm their commitment to anti-racist work. Thus, we created two spaces for white anti-racist education to happen on a personal level for adults and students.
White Anti-Racist Educators (WARE) is a group of educators who meet to discuss and explore their experiences as people who identify as white in our racially-inequitable world. Our goal is to deepen our understanding of our own racial identity, while striving together to develop strategies to create a more equitable school environment at Miss Porter’s. We aim to work in solidarity with, and accountability to, faculty of color in creating anti-racist communities. Educators will set both personal and community goals, plan strategies for achieving them, hold each other accountable during the process, and spend time evaluating and revising these goals for the future.
At Miss Porter’s School, we strive to acknowledge, support, and educate students and adults to respect the diversity in our community and beyond. This education is a crucial component of our mission statement, as a global citizenry requires students to develop a sophisticated understanding of how race works in the United States and the world. In engaging in this work, it is our hope that we can also begin to help our students develop positive racial identities, think critically about racial stereotypes, and recognize and speak out against injustice.
Association for White Anti-Racist Education (AWARE) is a space for white students committed to anti-racism work. We meet monthly with adults in White Anti-Racist Educators to discuss issues related to race in the Porter’s community and beyond. Inward reflection and exploration of our unique set of identities and experiences inform our work together. Our goal is to deepen our understanding of our own racial identity, while striving to create a more just and equitable school environment at Miss Porter’s. We aim to work in solidarity with, and accountability to, students of color and other affinity and alliance groups on campus.
Central to our mission is supporting employees to be more inclusive, equitable, and just in their roles and work in the community. We offer internal and external opportunities for growth, learning, and practice through a multifaceted program. Adults in the community engage in individual learning and research; small and large group dialogues, inter- and intra-departmental work; hear from an array of notable speakers; and are eligible to attend various multi-day intensive workshops and seminars.
At Miss Porter’s School, we understand the importance of representation to affirm our students’ experiences. While the numbers below reflect an important part of our journey toward an equitable and just community, they do not capture the totality of the School’s efforts. In addition to increasing the racial and ethnic diversity of our community to better reflect the world our students will shape, we must continue to build on our student and adult programs, embed anti-bias and anti-racist education into the curriculum, and listen to the feedback of our students, faculty, and families. Our responsibility to cultivate a more just institution is clear, and our community Call to Action guides us in rising to this challenge.
of Alumnae Board identify as People of Color, up from 17% in 2019-20
of Trustees identify as People of Color, up from 14% in 2019-20
of faculty come from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds*
of student body are international students
of student body are domestic Students of Color
of employees come from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds*
of senior administrators come from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds*
I am the Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer at Miss Porter’s School, and in this role I oversee the institution-wide diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives; collaborate with the Academic Office and the Student Life Office; and work on our faculty hiring and retention efforts. My role touches all areas of school life, from all-school programming such as speakers and workshops, to personal and professional development opportunities for adults and students. The fact that I get to work with all members of the community means that I get to intentionally think about what programming and educational opportunities different groups need and tailor the support from my office accordingly. This differentiated approach allows everyone to have their voice heard and see their role in conversations on equity and inclusion.
Previously, my role was part time, but with the growth of the programming as well as the needs of the community, it became clear that the position needed to be full time and front and center. While I do miss the math classroom at times, the work that I do with adults and students is incredibly rewarding. I get to work in a community that is living out its mission statement, and I know that teaching students about equity and inclusion helps us fulfill the promise of our mission statement to shape a changing world.
I noticed a few years ago that the work we were doing on campus was not accurately reflected by the words in our then diversity statement. Last year, the Office of Equity and Inclusion and the Equity and Inclusion Advisory Committee took on the task of drafting a new diversity, equity, and inclusion statement that would: better reflect the work that was currently being done; be more aligned with the Porter’s mission statement; and communicate to external and internal audiences the school’s ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
We are the living legacy of Sarah Porter. At a time when women were undervalued, she created an intentional community for young women to gain greater agency in their lives. In doing so, Miss Porter’s School supported future pioneers and leaders to reach their full potential.
While Sarah Porter’s vision was radically brave in nature, it was not accessible to all women. In order to fully realize an inclusive vision of education for all young women, we must interrogate our history while cultivating the future of our community.
Like our founder, we are both bold in our desire for change and limited by the scope of our experience. To expand Sarah Porter’s vision to be more fully inclusive and equitable, we must:
The Equity and Inclusion Call to Action acknowledges the history, responsibility, necessary commitment, inherent difficulties, and possible action steps the institution and its constituents must take. This statement captures a more complete picture of the complex nature of diversity, equity, and inclusion work in independent schools in general, and specifically at Miss Porter’s School. It is aspirational while also making space for growth, learning, and healing for all constituents.
Taking the words of the call to action and bringing them to life will take the entire school community’s effort and support. It starts by looking at our policies and practices and ensuring that they affirm all members of our community. It requires us to check our blind spots and learn about our biases so that we can make the most equitable decisions for the community and for the program. This happens in partnership with my colleagues, who know that equity work cannot happen in a silo. You’ll see us throughout the year taking a deep dive into student life and thinking about what a community “rooted in the inherent worth and dignity of each member” truly looks like. In the classroom, we’ll continue to have challenging conversations, learn about the world we navigate, and think about what this means for our students while at Porter’s, but also what it means once they graduate and live their full lives. All of this requires us to be willing to talk about what has worked, and what has not; who was affirmed and seen, and who was missing and excluded. It requires us as a school to hold the promise of the mission statement together with the obligation of the call to action to continue to build a Miss Porter’s School community rooted in belonging and inclusion.