our students doing the work

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.

about the office of equity & Inclusion

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:

  • equip all constituents with the knowledge and language to understand and discuss diversity, equity, and inclusion;
  • elevate student voice and experience;
  • and design and execute meaningful opportunities to foster dialogue and authentic relationship-building. 

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.

By the Numbers: One Piece of the Story

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.

36%

of Alumnae Board come from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds* in 2021-22

24%

of Trustees identify come from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds* in 2021-22

26%

of faculty come from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds*

13%

of student body are international students

31%

of student body are domestic Students of Color

22%

of employees come from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds*

50%

of senior administrators come from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds*

*Diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds include anyone that self-reports and identifies as Black, African-American, Asian, Asian-American, Pacific Islander, Latinx, Hispanic, Multi-racial, Bi-racial, Indian, and/or North African. Some, but not all, may identify as people of color.

Our Community Call to Action is key to our Mission.

E&I Organizations: alliances and Advisories

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 2022.

Asian Students Alliance

The ASA strives to give an authentic voice to our Asian community. We intend to challenge community perceptions, as well as acknowledge and explore the complexity of Asian identities. We will also provide opportunities to celebrate the diverse Asian history and culture represented here at Porter’s.

The ASA provides support for our Asian communities by recognizing their cultural and ethnic complexities, raising awareness for Asian political and social issues, fostering belonging within the Asian community, and building empathy and allyship with the wider community at Porter’s.

Black and Latinx Alliance

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. Through monthly meetings, sit down dinners, and informational emails we will be able to complete our goal.

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. We seek 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.

EleMental

We plan to have licensed psychologists visit campus and educate students. We also want to create posters to put around campus regarding Suicide Awareness. Next year we want to share our alliance with the greater Porter’s community (morning meeting announcements, community days, all school emails etc). Training session for JA’s to discuss signs a student in the dorm may be struggling and how to effectively help them

One in four people in the world will suffer from mental illness at one point in their life. In a society where around 450 million people world-wide are affected by such conditions, we struggle to grasp the idea that not everything can be as perfect as we portray it on a screen. Seeking help shouldn’t be seen as a sign of weakness, but one of strength. Accepting that you have a sickness, or coming to the realization that mental illness isn’t something to be ashamed of is the first step to recovery. Our goal as a group is to break down the stigma around mental illness, and by doing this we hope to create an atmosphere where people aren’t afraid to take those initial steps into recovery and acceptance.

International Student Advisory (ISA)

The International Student Advisory (ISA) aims to never be stagnant in supporting international students. Where there is a need, we will meet it. We provide everything from summer storage to transportation to JFK airport, on-campus traditional meals to collaborative events with other alliances and affinities and new supports each year based on student voice.

The International Student Advisory (ISA) is home-base for students coming to Porter’s from abroad. We empower, uplift, and celebrate international voices, traditions, and experiences on campus. We believe that students living outside of the United States have an additional set of needs that we strive to meet.

Spectrum: Gender and Sexuality Alliance

Spectrum Alliance hopes to continue our conversations with Dr. Windsor, the OEI, and the student body about the use of gendered language at Porter’s. We will establish regular alliance meetings and within them try to host a bigger variety of events including pride crafts, a movie night, or a book club. We will continue to support the work of our three affinities, as well as doing more outreach to all students about what they would like to see change. We have also recently been discussing the lack of sex ed for grades 10-12 and would like to work with the CWC and the Academic Office to give input on the creation of a sex ed program that covers healthy relationships and consent, is queer inclusive, and could be implemented easily in the trimester system for all grades. Finally, we will continue to advocate for all LGBTQIA+ students and handle any situations that may arise.

The goal of Spectrum is to provide support to LGBTQ+ students through advocacy and education, and to provide a safe space for discussion of the past, present and future of LGBTQ+ lived experiences. Spectrum heads work with admin based off of student input to promote awareness and equity. Spectrum affinity is a confidential group for identifying students, whereas the alliance exists to reach the broader community.

AFFINITY GROUPS

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.

Employee of Color Affinity
LGBTQ+ Employee Affinity
Trans & Non-binary Employee Affinity

2 Worlds Affinity
ACRONYM Affinity
ConstellAsians: Pan-Asian Affinity
HOLA: Hispanic & Latinx Affinity
Jewish Student Affinity
LGBTQ+ Affinity
Multi-Racial Affinity
Muslim Affinity
Prism Affinity
Sister2Sister: Black Student Affinity 
Student of Color Affinity
Trans and Non-binary Affinity

White Anti-Racist Education Groups

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 space for white adults in the Miss Porter’s community who are committed to anti-racism work. Our goal is to continually challenge our understanding of our own racialized identities, while holding ourselves and the institution accountable to create a more equitable school environment. We strive to work in solidarity with, and in accountability to, people of color in creating anti­-racist communities. Our work extends to the present and future communities while interrogating the past.

Association for White Anti-Racist Education (AWARE) is an Office of Equity and Inclusion advisory space for students to commit to anti-racism work and education. Reflection and exploration of our unique identities and experiences guide our advisory’s work. We aim to work in solidarity with, and accountability with, students of color and other affinity and alliance groups on campus. The goal of AWARE is to deepen our understanding of racial identity at Porter’s and educate our community while striving to make our Porter’s community, as well as the community outside of Porter’s, equitable. 

Professional development

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.

MEET THE equity & inclusion staff
Susan Martell Jenkin

Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer
860-409-3779
smartelljenkin@missporters.org

Ashley Amoabeng

Equity & Community Life Program Assistant, House Director
860-409-3848
aamoabeng@missporters.org

Kaitlin Cowles

Teacher - Mathematics, Science, Equity & Inclusion Coordinator
860-409-3775
kcowles@missporters.org

Kat Simison

Director of International Recruitment; Equity & Inclusion Associate
860-409-3612
ksimison@missporters.org

q&a with susan martell jenkin, chief equity & inclusion officer

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:

  • commit to the work of building a school community rooted in the inherent worth and dignity of each member, with courage and integrity;
  • grapple with the responsibility of enacting change, both within and beyond our time in Farmington;
  • hold ourselves accountable for our own limitations, while forging a foundation for future leaders to fix the mistakes we leave behind. In doing so, we contribute to a more just chapter in our institution’s legacy.

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.

Imagining a future at Porter’s?