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Parent Meeting Focuses on Sanford's Commitment to DEI

Sanford’s Home and School (H&S) Association’s first meeting of the year took place on Thursday, October 17th, in Quigley Hall. Approximately 25 parents took time out of their morning to attend the meeting, which was open to all families in the Sanford community. Because the 2019–2020 school-wide theme is IDENTITY and because honoring diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is a guiding star of the current Strategic Direction of the Board of Trustees, H&S invited Upper School instructors Jamy Haughey and Elizabeth Capone, members of Sanford’s DEI task force, to provide a brief presentation on the topic.
Capone and Haughey shared that they, along with instructors Anna Littlefield and Ellen Grise, comprised a summer group that benefited from a summer study grant designed to allow them to jumpstart the DEI task force’s work at Sanford. As a part of the grant, they collaborated with current Upper School students, reached out to potential speakers for faculty, students, and parents, and networked with DEI practitioners at other schools in the area.

They spoke to the parents about the interesting ways in which Sanford is focusing on DEI in both its curriculum and community. For example, Haughey shared how even in a math class there are ways to have students consider and discuss DEI. She used a graph from one of her classes to vividly illustrate this point to the group.

Finally, parents were asked to support the work being done at Sanford with in-home discussions about DEI, and they were provided resources to assist with this. Some online resources include, but are not limited to: Teaching Tolerance, GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network), and NPR: Codeswitch! “Parents and guardians are encouraged to bring these topics into their homes to collaborate with Sanford faculty and staff in educating ourselves as a community,” stated Capone.

Zee Cowan, parent of Nasir '21, was in attendance and shared these thoughts: “I love that the DEI task force has not just focused on checking boxes like race, gender, or sexual identity because no one fits into just one box. If we only focus on putting people into a box, instead of getting to know them as individuals, we will never truly get to know the true person. I was so grateful that the presentation did not address how the larger group could work towards being more accepting of all individuals. Instead, the task force is emphasizing that each individual has to realize his/her own identity in order to be a part of a global community. I commend the teachers, such as Jamy Haughey, for being willing to bring these conversations, based on facts, into their classrooms.”

In conclusion, H&S president Laura Giardina remarked: “Overall, the response from those in attendance was fantastic. All the parents were so impressed by the efforts of the task force, the engagement of the student body, and by the examples of what the faculty are doing every day in their classroom to foster DEI.”

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