Adopted by the Trinity Board of Trustees March 12, 2021
At Trinity Episcopal School, we believe that racism is wrong and that honoring diversity means embracing both the visible and invisible differences of all people, including but not limited to race, culture, religion, socioeconomic status, perspectives, ability, education, family composition, sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation. We believe all students, families, faculty, and staff should feel welcome and honored. This belief is firmly rooted in our mission statement when we say, “We are all children of God.”
In accordance with Trinity Episcopal School’s mission and core values, Episcopal Identity, and theNational Association of Episcopal School’s Principles of GoodPractice for Equity and Justice (NAES PGPEJ), we respect and uphold the diversity and life experiences in our Trinity community. We believe these differences are “sources of strength that build-up common life, deepen our common humanity, and enhance the intellectual, social, spiritual, and moral development of all students.” (NAES PGPEJ).
The Baptismal Covenant of the Episcopal Church calls us to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being,” and therefore, we believe injustice to one is an injustice to all. The visible racial injustices that we have witnessed historically in our country and during the summer of 2020 remind us that we must all actively work for justice and equity. We are also mindful that we have implicit bias and made our own missteps. We pledge to do better. We will lean on our community, including faculty, staff, parents, students, and alumni to hold us accountable to our pledge. In order to promote and support a safe, welcoming, nurturing, and inclusive learning community at Trinity, we, the Board of Trustees, commit to the following:
● We believe all forms of racism and inequity are the antithesis of our school’s mission and core values.
● We reaffirm our commitment to our core value of a Diverse Community. We direct and fully support our Head of School to consistently and holistically lead the school in all appropriate anti-racist, diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts including, but not limited to work involving curriculum; recruitment and retention of diverse faculty, staff, and students.
● We commit to identifying, challenging, and dismantling any policies, procedures, and practices that perpetuate racism and inequity.
● We will participate in annual anti-racism diversity, equity, and inclusion training.
We, the Trinity Board of Trustees, will work to ensure our school is a place where all community members feel safe, secure, and respected. Conversations around race, diversity, equity, and inclusion can be sensitive and complex. We will integrate and model a growth mindset in our work. We want everyone to bring their whole selves to our campus, and we commit to creating and sustaining a fully supportive environment where all students, parents, staff, and faculty feel welcome.
The Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Committee has the responsibility to support the ongoing efforts to implement Trinity’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan. The task of the D&I committee is to support the Head of School and Director of Diversity and Inclusion in their efforts to ensure that diversity and inclusion are woven seamlessly into every aspect of school life at Trinity, and that its families, faculty and staff, and community partners comprise a dynamic and richly diverse educational environment. Consistent with the school’s mission and core values, Episcopal Identity, and the National Association of Episcopal Schools Principles of Equity and Justice, Trinity’s D&I Committee envisions a learning environment that nurtures a greater understanding of the commonalities and differences in the Trinity community as well as the larger global community.
The D&I Chair works closely with the Head of School, the Director of Diversity and Inclusion, and the Board of Trustees. The Chair informs the Board regarding the activities of the D&I committee as well as current and planned D&I events and professional development by providing an update at Board meetings. The D&I Committee meets approximately four times during the school year as well as on an ad-hoc basis.
Annually review the progress of the implementation of Trinity’s Diversity and Inclusion Plan
Encourage and help forge partnerships with people, schools, and organizations in Austin.
Support the Head of School and Director of Diversity and Inclusion in the implementation of the D&I Strategic Plan.
Sandra Brown, Trustee; D&I Committee Chair; Community Philanthropist
Marwin Brown, Trustee;; Business Intelligence & Analytics Lead, Shire Healthcare Group
Mrinalini Date, Trustee; Associate Professor and Chief of Endocrinology, UT Dell Medical School Medical Director, Chronic Disease Management and Virtual Care, Seton Family of Hospitals
Shelly Bain, Board Chair; Community Philanthropist
The Director of Diversity and Inclusion supports and advances Trinity’s Diversity and Inclusion efforts as defined by our mission and core values. Using our Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan as a guide and the NAES Principles of Good Practice for Equity & Justice, the director of diversity and inclusions works with the board of trustees, faculty, and staff to ensure that diversity and inclusion are integrated throughout the school. The director of diversity and inclusion serves on Trinity’s leadership team.
Promoting Intellectual Curiosity, Spiritual Growth and a Strong Community
We believe diversity embraces both the visible and invisible differences among individuals including, but not limited to, race, culture, religion, socioeconomic status, perspectives, physical ability, education, family composition, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation. We believe a diverse and inclusive community is essential to a well-rounded education that promotes intellectual curiosity, academic excellence and moral growth. For our children to be successful and productive citizens in our ever-changing world, they must learn to explore, understand and value others in a safe, nurturing and diverse environment. With this foundation, our students are prepared to think critically, collaborate effectively and lead as they navigate the world beyond Trinity.
So, how does diversity and inclusion benefit our students? Scientific American published an article, “How Diversity Makes Us Smarter,” which determined “being around people who are different from us makes us more creative, more diligent, and harder-working.” We become more empathetic and better problem solvers, plus, “if you want to build teams or organizations capable of innovating, you need diversity." Since our founding in 1999, we have worked hard to build a diverse and inclusive community—one that is strengthened by our similarities and differences, and where the dignity of every member of our community is respected. We intentionally honors its commitment to diversity and inclusion through institutional policies, a curriculum that integrates multiculturalism, ideals of equity and justice, professional development for faculty and staff, programs, community service and Chapel. While we have made great strides, we can build on this good work by adopting a strategic plan for diversity and inclusion that is consistent with the school’s overall strategic work. This plan must reflect our mission and core values while holding us accountable for achieving our goals.
The development of this Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan is the result of several key steps. First, the board of trustees created a Diversity Task Force to explore diversity and inclusion at Trinity. Next, we conducted the NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools) Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism (AIM) survey to gauge our current diversity-and-inclusion climate. Then, we formed a Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Planning Committee consisting of the Diversity Task Force and additional parents, faculty, administrative leaders and trustees. The committee identified three areas of strategic focus: communication, cultural competency skill development, and faculty and staff hiring. All three topics are interconnected and essential to enhancing the quality of the Trinity experience for all, and for positively impacting the retention and recruitment of diverse students, families, faculty and staff.
Over the past months, I have worked hard to find the silver linings in our current circumstances. I believe deeply that our best way forward through these increasingly challenging times is to acknowledge the immense challenges and the real suffering, and also to delight in our blessings when they appear. I count our Trinity community as one of those blessings.
The recent killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Rayshard Brooks have shown us aggressive, unjustifiable, racist violence. The circumstances of each death were different, but the underlying racism is the same. Unfortunately, these incidents of racial violence are not new. Systemic racial power structures, inequities, and violence have existed in America for over 400 years.
Black Lives Matter. Our Black brothers and sisters are hurting. The fabric of our country is fragmented. In Chapel and in our classrooms, we celebrate Ubuntu and its philosophy “I Am Because We Are.” We must live and breathe this philosophy now more than ever. It is incumbent upon us all to listen, learn, and lean into social justice and Ubuntu. And more than anything, we must model and teach. The children in our care are such a silver lining. We are blessed with an opportunity to help change the future.
I recently read an essay by Seth Godin titled Invisible Insulation. He began by pointing out that, “I didn’t spend any time yesterday worrying about being eaten by a grizzly bear. Or that I would get cholera from the water in my house.” Godin goes on to point out that people have created layers of insulation around themselves and there are a host of circumstances we don’t need to worry about. When that insulation is unevenly distributed, it becomes privilege. I challenge each member of our Trinity community to examine the inequities around them, recognize the effects they have on our world, and determine the actions each of us can take to affect change.
We are committed to this challenge, and we promise to partner with our families in having the important, and sometimes difficult, conversations about events in the world around us. We recognize that listening and learning is most important. Some of the efforts we make regularly and some of the changes we have added recently include:
Faculty, staff, and parents participate in Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity (SEED) groups to listen and discuss systemic issues around race;
Our Faculty/Staff Common Summer Reads this year include various selections on race and implicit bias. The titles this year include See No Stranger, Everyday Racism, and So You Want to Talk about Race.
An ongoing commitment to send faculty and staff to the National Association of Independent Schools’ week-long residential diversity leadership training to teach authentically and understand bias.
Our school’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan reflects our commitment to this work and is firmly embedded in our mission and values, specifically our Episcopal Identity. As we spend the summer planning for the 20–21 academic year, our Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan will continue to be a guide for the decisions we make and the work we do.
We will look at our current traditions, systems, and everyday practices that are in place to determine and eliminate inequities or discriminatory practices.
While these programs and actions are strong and effective, they are not enough. Researching, listening, and educating ourselves are the best ways we can individually advance the cause of liberty and justice. Viji Panda, our Director of Diversity and Inclusion, has been gathering and curating resources for parents, students, and faculty; We are here to help guide you in this important work.
Trinity students are a source of joy and hope. I wish for them a world that is healthy and whole. Making the necessary changes will be hard work. We have to ask ourselves difficult questions about the systems we inhabit, and our role in preserving the status quo. We must educate our students and ourselves so we can dismantle the thinking and the systems that sustain institutionalized racism.
We all live in those systems; we can all help make changes. That can take many forms, from peaceful protests to tough conversations around the dinner table, and a myriad of ways in between. It will be different for each family, and that’s okay. Please act.
As the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop recently said, “Now is the time to commit to cherish and respect all lives and to honor the dignity and infinite worth of every child of God. Now is the time for all of us to show – in our words, our actions, and our lives – what love really looks like.”
Today is Juneteenth, a day that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. But true freedom in America remains a constant struggle. Let’s commit to showing up, being determined to be part of the solution, and working together for true freedom.