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Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Antiracism

What is the impact on learning if a child does not feel safe, in a space that is not affirming?

What if this child does not feel a sense of belonging, or feel included in the normal functioning of a school? 

These questions are at the heart of all the work that we do in the Office of Equity and Community Engagement. We center and empower our students, sustain collegiality and care for our faculty and staff, partner with parents and caregivers, and engage our alumnae. We aim to build  a community in which each member feels a true sense of belonging. We define this as an environment in which any individual or group can feel welcomed, respected, supported and valued to fully participate. In turn, we expect each community member to be mindful of their impact on others.

The Office of Equity and Community Engagement is guided by four principles: to educate students in their commitment to the greater good; to work from diversity to belonging; to center students; and to engage the community. The result is a community built on compassion, in which each person actively cares for others going beyond empathy.

We aim to build  a community in which each member feels a true sense of belonging.
Coy Dailey
Coy DaileyDirector, Office of Equity and Community Engagement

Belief Statements

  • The Brearley School believes that diversity of thought, practice and identity are essential elements in preparing students for principled engagement in the world. We believe in the importance of establishing and strengthening the structures and practices necessary to achieve equitable representation and participation in our school. We are committed to putting these beliefs into action and are therefore engaged in continuous study, self-reflection and dialogue in order to improve and adapt as we learn.

    We embrace the opportunities and challenges of learning and working in a diverse environment characterized by respect and consideration for the needs of others. In partnership with faculty, staff, students, families and alumnae, we are endeavoring to instill and sustain shared values that promote a welcoming, inclusive and affirming community. 

  • The Brearley School condemns racism and any other form of bias and bigotry in the strongest possible terms and is committed to building a community that is both antibiased and antiracist. This work requires active introspection, self-awareness and the determination to make conscious and consistently equitable choices on a daily basis. We expect our faculty, staff, students, parents and trustees to pursue meaningful change through deliberate and measurable actions. These actions include participating in antibias/antiracist engagements and identifying and eliminating policies, practices and beliefs that uphold racism, or any form of bias and bigotry, in our community.

  • Founded in 1884 to provide girls with an excellent liberal arts education previously available only to boys, Brearley challenges girls of adventurous intellect and diverse backgrounds to think critically and creatively, and prepares them for principled engagement in the world. The School takes seriously its role as a leader in K-XII education and embraces that position in all its deliberations and programming. 

    We recognize that the changing gender landscape poses questions faced by all-girls schools. Brearley reaffirms its mission as a leader in girls’ education, and going forward will consider all applicants who identify as girls. In the instance that a current Brearley student no longer identifies as a girl, the School is committed to supporting the child and the family as appropriate to navigate the challenges inherent in being a transgender student in a girls’ school. We expect all students who choose Brearley and continue their education at the School will be supportive of the School’s history, mission and advocacy for girls’ education and women’s advancement. While the institutional language of the School is necessarily gendered as we refer to our students as “girls” or “young women,” we will make every effort to honor the student’s choice of name and pronoun in our personal communications to, with and about the individual student. When a student shares a questioning of gender or a shift in gender identity, the School will gather the appropriate support team to work in concert with the student and family. Recognizing that the developmental and educational needs of each individual may change over time, the School will continue to partner with the child and family throughout the student’s education at Brearley, and especially as the student nears a change in division, to determine if a girls’ school environment will continue to provide the best educational experience. 

    This statement was developed after several years of conversations and deliberation by the trustees, administration, Student Life Committee and faculty and staff, in consultation with experts and organizations in the field. We will continue to stay current on the national conversation on gender diversity and best school practices and continue to seek expert guidance. Brearley will monitor the implementation of this statement to ensure it best serves the School and individual students and families. (Adopted 6/18/2018)

The Office of Equity and Community Engagement

Coy Dailey

Coy Dailey

Director of Equity and Community Engagement

Ashley Finigan-James

Ashley Finigan-James

Assistant Director

Valerie Samuels

Valerie Samuels

Assistant to the Dean of Students and Director of Equity and Community Engagement

Joy Piedmont

Joy Piedmont

Librarian and Upper School DEIA Coordinator

Erica Muñoz

Erica Muñoz

Crossdivisional Counselor

Ann Saunders

Ann Saunders

Science Teacher and Middle School DEIA Coordinator

Keith Driscoll

Keith Driscoll

Coordinator for Service, Transportation and the Beaver Den

Our Work

The Office of Equity and Community Engagement partners with various constituencies within the Brearley community to build a more inclusive, responsive culture. We strengthen the school’s connections among students, faculty and staff, the Parents’ Association and the Alumnae Board by leveraging institutional resources to successfully achieve mission-related goals with respect to equity, community engagement and antiracism.

  • Centering and empowering our students:

    • Brearley Student Diversity Leadership Council (BSDLC): BSDLC represents the needs of historically marginalized students by creating spaces for healing, celebration and affinity; holding people and organizations to their statements of beliefs; and acting as a liaison between students, educators and administrators to bridge the information gap. BSDLC oversees the affinity spaces, identity groups and cultural interest groups at Brearley.

    • Belonging at Brearley: An annual Upper School student-led conference on inclusion and belonging. It is important to remember that this conference is for students, by students. They have asked that adults support this opportunity for them to lead. The presence of adults in these sessions should not be felt by students unless a major concern arises.

    • Identity-based spaces: The common goals of an affinity group are to enhance awareness, create cohesion and help promote a positive sense of self among those who share an identity and allies. An affinity group differs from a student club in that it is a group that is underrepresented in the United States, and it is a group that is underrepresented in our school. 

    • Student Advisory Committee: This committee consists of students from each grade in the Upper School. Students volunteer and meet monthly with the Co-heads of Upper School Self-Government, Co-heads of BSDLC, the Head of School, Head of Upper School and Director of Equity and Community Engagement. Conversations revolve around current challenges impacting the US student body and developing solutions.

    Service Learning and Community Engagement

  • Sustaining collegiality and care for our faculty and staff:

    • Staff and Teachers of Color Affinity (STOC).

    • Unpacking whiteness .

    • Antiracism working groups (students, parents, faculty/staff, trustees).

    • Community conversations.

    • All faculty/staff meetings coordinated by the Office of Equity and Community Engagement.

    • Focus on building relationships and enhancing the community.

  • Partnering with parents and caregivers:

    • Parent Equity Committee: This committee is a team of parent volunteers who will help in the development of a sustainable series of parent programs that support their children’s experiences at Brearley and move the school forward in its work to become an inclusive, antiracist community. This diverse team of parents will provide feedback and serve as a conduit to the broader community of Brearley parents.

  • Engaging our alumnae:

    • Alumnae Board: Annual conversations with alumnae, keeping them informed about current-day Brearley and developing opportunities for alumnae to connect with students.

Staying the Course: Journey to Equity

    • Educating our students for principled engagement

    • Working from diversity to belonging

    • Centering students

    • Engaging our community

    • A robust array of student-led and -initiated affinity groups and programs

    • Community groups

    • Restorative practices

    • Community-wide celebrations

    • Commitment to access

    • Teaching how to have conversations across differences

    • Offering advisory lessons and advisor facilitation training

    • Encouraging service learning and civic engagement

    • Developing student leadership

    • Diverse and inclusive hiring and admission practices

    • STOC—our staff and faculty of color affinity group

    • Professional development

    • Expanding the canon, incorporating new texts with diverse perspectives and voices to represent a wide range of viewpoints

    • Fostering a culturally competent classroom environment

    • Policies and procedures

    • Accountability and research

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