Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Rising to the Challenge

The real and full practice of Thacher's values—honor, fairness, kindness, and truth—which ask us to take responsibility not simply for ourselves but also for the community and for the well-being of our world, must be our true north. 

We believe the path to achieving this is a collaborative one, where people of diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives come together to envision and enact a community where all members can thrive, feel a deep sense of belonging, and realize their full potential.
 
Our efforts to oppose racism and oppression are ongoing, anchored by Head of School Blossom Beatty Pidduck's commitments below. For more information about the work that is being done, please read on. 

List of 7 items.

  • 1. Implement anti-racist and anti-bias education and accountability at all levels of the institution.

    In order to better serve our mission, Thacher has engaged several experts to support anti-racist and anti-bias education. We have also reallocated internal resources to support, implement, and extend this work.

    In 2020-2021, the whole School benefitted from Anacapa Scholar Dr. Gaye Theresa Johnson. 
    • Dr. Johnson worked with faculty at large and with the History Department to develop enhanced antiracist teaching pedagogy and practice.
    • Dr. Johnson facilitated a monthly series of professional development training sessions through the end of the year.
    • In the fall of 2020, Dr. Johnson shared a model of culturally responsive pedagogy through her sophomore Latin American History course.
    • Dr. Johnson continues to make herself available to Thacher faculty who are working on culturally responsive pedagogy and practice. 
    We continue to work with Equity Meets Design, experts in applying a design thinking methodology combined with equity literacy practice to solving problems of inequity, to answer the question, “How do we do equity at Thacher?” 
    • Their engagement with faculty and staff began in January 2021
    • Work with students will begin in the spring of 2021.
    • Work with the administration began last January; the three-part course will wrap up in November 2021.
    Globally-renowned restorative justice practitioner Amikaeyla Gaston visited campus in October to facilitate relationship-building exercises with students and faculty. She will also co-facilitate an affinity group leadership retreat.   

    The School is actively engaged in an ongoing community transformation effort:  
    • With a focus on the harms experienced by members of our community, we are following a structured process of listening, sharing across differences, and pursuing collective and individual accountability and action.
    • We are holding ongoing sessions at each grade level for students and faculty. 
    • Affinity groups for parents have been created to provide support for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ families. (See details in the sidebar.)
    • In addition to our existing affinity groups, in 2020-2021 students created the Students with Disabilities Union.
    The DEI office, in partnership with Thacher adult and student affinity and ally groups, has sponsored workshops for students: 
     
    During the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years, the DEI office has sponsored talks by the following speakers:
    The DEI office has hosted numerous Zoom conversations with various constituent groups, including: 
    • Listening sessions for alums-of-color
    • Allyship sessions for white alums
    • Parent-of-color calls

    The School encouraged and supported students and faculty to attend virtual conferences this year:
    We have refocused our dorm programming to place more emphasis on DEI matters and to make increased use of experienced facilitators to help our students develop their equity literacy competencies.

    The Program Committee of the Thacher Board of Trustees created its own DEI development and growth plan and is working with Dr. Derrick Gay, who is helping them develop their DEI framework and practices and supporting them in their critical role as stewards of the School.
  • 2. Hire additional BIPOC faculty and increase their representation in leadership roles at Thacher.

    By adopting new approaches to recruiting exceptional, diverse talent, Thacher is making progress toward the goal of an administration, faculty, and staff that reflect the diversity of our students.
    • We have partnered with Strategenius and its founder, Orpheus Crutchfield, to collaborate in auditing all aspects of recruitment, hiring, support, and retention, with a focus on BIPOC candidates.
    • Between 2019 and 2021, 63 percent of our full-time faculty hires (10 out of 16) self-identify as people of color and/or LGBTQ+.
    • Strategenius led Thacher’s national search for the next director of student life (dean of students).
    • All three of our incoming administrators have demonstrated experience and commitment to DEI work.
    • Faculty professional development work has focused on reorienting our culture by engaging our anti-racist/anti-oppression work through a lens of cultural humility to better foster empathy and connections across differences.
  • 3. Hire a therapist of color who specializes in issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

    Thacher has increased the breadth and the depth of the counselors we make available to students. Their backgrounds and areas of specialization now better reflect the diversity of our community.
    • In continuous support of our students and their well-being, we offer online counseling at no cost, both remotely and on campus.
    • These resources have also been made available to our faculty.
    • One of our counselors, in collaboration with Dr. Gaye Theresa Johnson, is providing a weekly girls-of-color support group.
  • 4. Create a multicultural resource center on campus.

    In the fall of 2021, Thacher's Multicultural Center officially opened its doors to the community. This space is designed to serve as a space to foster understanding, respect, and solidarity across differences, to collaborate on curricular or co-curricular projects and endeavors, and to connect informally with each other. The space will also host meetings for affinity, ally, and other student organizations, as well as film screenings, dialogue sessions, and lectures centered on equity and inclusion. 
  • 5. Engage an external DEI consultant to provide a full audit of our institutional policies and practices, as well as conduct a complete inventory of our curriculum.

    The School has partnered with Equity Meets Design to ensure that our policies, practices, courses, and co-curricular programming are equitable, inclusive, and reflect the diversity of the lived experience of our student body. The goal is to intentionally and actively identify and uproot biases and oppose racism and other forms of oppression.
    • Equity Meets Design is working with the NAIS Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism (AIM) survey in addition to other assessment tools to guide our curriculum redesign process.
    • Math and Science departments spent the summer of 2020 redesigning their curriculum through DEI lenses. English has been redesigning its curriculum for the past three years. This article covers some of the curricular changes.
    • Our newly-created student Unity Council, consists of representatives from each affinity and ally group. UC focuses on coalition building, fostering equity and inclusion, and taking leadership in the design and planning of heritage months and other events.
  • 6. Assemble a DEI Task Force to guide our ongoing work and to hold the School accountable.

    The School has administered the Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism (AIM) survey. Based on its results, representatives of all School constituencies will work in close partnership to develop the School’s long-term DEI strategy.
  • 7. Never stop doing the work.

    We recognize that the work of manifesting our values throughout School life is constant and continual work; the administration, board, faculty, and staff are committed to this perpetual project.

—Head of School Blossom Beatty Pidduck

Thacher’s mission calls us to practice the art of living for the greatest good. To do so we must learn to listen deeply, to hear what our community—what our world—is asking of us, and to take action. That is the work in front of us.

List of 1 members.

  • Photo of Matt Balano

    Matt Balano 

    Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; English Teacher
    805-640-3201 x215
    University of California, Santa Cruz - BA
    Bio

DEI News

Affinity, Alliance, and Interest Groups

As in so many areas of Thacher life, the School works to provide students with tools and opportunities to become empathetic and courageous leaders and inclusive community members. In this way, our students, the organizations they run, and the adults who support them play an important role in our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, and we offer a variety of options for engagement in this work. (The descriptions that follow are based on each group’s mission statement.)

List of 12 items.

  • Black Student Union (BSU)

    BSU offers a safe space for all of Thacher's Black students, where they may discuss racial issues, globally and within Thacher. It also offers a casual place for members to get to know each other and hang out.
  • First in Family

    This group provides a space for students who are totally new to the boarding school world to talk about their experiences and hear from older students about how to find success at Thacher.
  • Jewish Student Union

    JSU provides a space to support Jewish students on campus and offer activities open to the community to learn about the Jewish faith.
  • Latinos Unidos (LU)

    Latinos Unidos is an organization that works to create a comfortable space for Latinos of all backgrounds as well as to educate the Thacher community by celebrating and affirming Latino culture.
  • Multi-ethnic Student Association (MESA)

    MESA provides a space of community for students of multi-ethnic, multi-racial, or multi-cultural backgrounds so that they may be able to celebrate and engage with all aspects of their beautiful coexisting identities.
  • Spectrum (LGBTQ+)

    Spectrum operates at two levels. A confidential group provides support, solidarity, and a safe space for those student who identify as LGBTQ. "Spectrum for all" exists to educate the community and create opportunities for allies to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community.
  • Student Disability Union (SDU)

    SDU educates and advocates for those with disabilities at Thacher and the greater world. Members also hold confidential meetings for mutual support.
  • Thacher Asian Student Society (TASS)

    TASS aims to create a safe, inclusive space for the wide range of identities under the terms Asian and Asian American to celebrate Asian and Asian American cultures, discuss current issues, foster allyship with other affinity groups, and educate the Thacher community.
  • The Association of White Anti-Racist Educators (AWARE)

    This is a group for white faculty and staff who are interested in educating themselves and taking action as allies in the effort to understand and dismantle racism.
  • Unity Council

    The Thacher Unity Council consists of student reps from all our affinity and ally groups working together to highlight the intersections of our identities and to model allyship across difference. 
  • White Students Against Racism

    This is a group for white students who are interested in educating themselves and taking action as allies in the effort to understand and disrupt systemic racism.
  • Parent Affinity Groups

    Asian Parent Affinity Group
    Black Parent Affinity Group
    Latinx Parent Affinity Group
    Middle Eastern Parent Affinity Group
Notice of nondiscriminatory policy as to students: The Thacher School admits students of any race, color, national, and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the School. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national, and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other School-administered programs.