Equity and Justice Committee Developments
Dear Wooster Community,
As you know, the Wooster School Board of Trustees has created a standing Equity and Justice Committee (E&J Committee) to help examine and strengthen our school’s commitment to equity, justice, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism (henceforth referred to as “equity and justice” or “E&J”). The E&J Committee recognizes that the complex societal and personal consequences of systemic racism are profound, and will only be overcome with thoughtful, long-term, sustained effort. That said, we are eager to share the meaningful and exciting developments emerging from the beginnings of our work this summer. It’s important to emphasize that we view these as foundational steps which allow us to more fully engage students, faculty, and community members at large in our ongoing efforts. To date, the E&J Committee actions include:
- In conjunction with professional consultants, examined and suggested possible revision of the Wooster School Purpose, Promise, and Beliefs through the lens of equity and justice.
- The development of a Wooster School Commitment to Equity and Justice statement.
- The inclusion of an Equity and Justice pillar to the Wooster School Board of Trustees Strategic Guidelines for the 2020-21 school year.
The E&J Committee and Head of School believe strongly that our equity and justice work must be built upon the learner-centered philosophy and practices which are at the heart of Wooster’s beliefs about learning and development. At the same time, these efforts require a central hub which can help to design and nurture an ethos, programs, and community-wide action. Taking this into account, the E&J Committee is announcing the establishment of the Equity and Justice Center at Wooster School (the “EJC”) through generous funding from the family of Board member and alumnus Mark Schneider and additional Board members. The EJC will replace the current Center for Social Impact (CSI), continuing some of the CSI’s good work while also becoming the core of our equity and justice efforts school and community-wide.
We are also very pleased to announce that Joule’ Bazemore will serve as the Interim Director of the EJC and part of the senior leadership team. While most of us know Joule’ as the Co-Coordinator of our Bridge Program and a wonderful teacher, community member, and student advocate, she also has a strong background in E&J programs at previous schools. She is a wonderful fit for this foundational work. For the 2020-21 school year, Joule’ will continue to co-manage and teach in the Bridge Program.
As an additional cornerstone of the EJC and in recognition of Wooster’s history, it is with gratitude and excitement that the E&J Committee announces the establishment of the Wooster School Residency Program. We recognize the historic barriers and ongoing systematic challenges that have created a gap in education equality. As such, the Wooster School Residency Program will partner with established non-profits that provide educational opportunities for motivated students vulnerable to academic shortfalls due to their local resources. We undertake this initiative fully understanding there are social-emotional, educational and fiscal responsibilities, and we are dedicated to building a healthy, robust, transparent program. More information about this important program will follow in future communications.
At the ground level of the school, with the appointment of Joule’ and her ability to bring in the voices of students and faculty, school administrators can now begin to focus on the following:
- Schedule an administration of the National Association of Independent Schools Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism (AIM) Survey.
- Redesign, development, and management of student-led equity and justice efforts in the school.
- Greater integration of equity and justice related content and methodologies into the daily learning of Wooster students.
- Identification and implementation of “best practice” professional learning in the area of equity and justice for teachers.
- The establishment of the Wooster School Community E&J Advisory Board, which will be composed of faculty, students, parents, alumni, and friends of the school to enhance communication and transparency.
- Focus on efforts to add to the diversity of the faculty and student body, particularly through Variable Tuition, scholarships, and fundraising efforts in our local community.
While these continue to be uniquely challenging times -- with much learning, unlearning, and relearning for all of us when it comes to understanding the nature of injustice, inequity, and systemic racism in our own school and society at large -- we are greatly encouraged by the commitment of the Wooster Community to the work ahead. We are also grateful that our generous donors have made it possible for us to lay this foundation. Finally, we are mindful of the challenges presented by the pandemic and the opening of school in the fall and we thank our community members for their trust, patience, and willingness to reimagine a Wooster School moving, as always, from strength to strength.
Mark Schneider and Jennifer Wadehra
Co-chairs of the Wooster School Board of Trustees E&J Committee
Head of School
BOT-E&J Committee Members