What does it mean to truly feel like you belong to a group? Take a minute to think about it. Where do you feel you most belong in your life? At home? At work? With friends? Now think about where you do not feel you belong. At an event? With parts of your family? When you’re in a space where you don't feel you belong, are you able to be your authentic self? Are you able to have confidence and take risks or be vulnerable?
John A. Powell, an internationally recognized expert in the areas of civil rights and civil liberties, has defined Belonging to mean “being fully human.” At West End Day school, we understand Belonging to exist when an individual feels support and security resulting from a sense of acceptance, inclusion, and seen identity. This sense of Belonging enables our students and families to bring their whole authentic selves to WEDS and to feel a sense of purpose within our school community. When our community members feel this sense of purpose, belonging, and individual ownership of our program- that’s when we can be most successful.
It is because of our drive and desire for our entire community to feel “Fully Human” that Belonging has become a guiding ideology and we will now be using the acronym DEIB (Diversity Equity Inclusion and Belonging) when referring to this pillar of our program.
So What Does a Sense of Belonging Look Like at WEDS:
- Visibility in Our School: In our classrooms and around the school you will find more pictures, projects, and curriculum celebrating people from many different backgrounds and presentations. I’d put this first !
- Diversity-Centered Hiring Practices: First and foremost, we want our students to see themselves reflected in the staff. Because of this, we have increased our efforts to find a more diverse candidate pool for all available positions in our school. We have a long way to go but are making steps toward our goal.
- Books/Curriculum: A large part of our students’ days involves reading, which is why we have and will continue to add a growing number of books to our library that celebrate inclusivity and have main characters from more diverse backgrounds.
- Conversation: As a faculty we are committed to discussing topics around diversity and social justice throughout the day, not just during our dedicated Social Justice academic period. Our goal is to reflect to our students that conversations around diversity deserve just as much attention as any other topic and should not be shied away from.
We'll be reaching out to our WEDS community in the next couple of weeks to get a sense of how you feel you belong at WEDS. In the meantime, if you have any immediate feedback on Belonging, I’d love to hear from you.
DEIB Leader & Supervising Social Worker