Our Thacher community—and indeed our entire world—finds itself at a confluence of unprecedented challenges: a global pandemic, repercussions of climate change, a paralyzed economy, a racial justice uprising, a divided nation, and more. At Thacher, we believe a path forward is a collaborative effort, where people of diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives can and must come together to envision and design a community where all members can thrive and realize their full potential. We believe that this work can be successful if we anchor it in our School mission and philosophy and build upon the pillars of honor, fairness, kindness, and truth. We also recognize that our mission and values alone are not sufficient to bring about the community to which we aspire, so we challenge ourselves—on both individual and on institutional levels—to remain committed to growth, equity, and to fostering in our students the desire and skills to be courageous, empathetic, and civically-engaged citizens. A Moment of Reckoning and Opportunity for Growth
Throughout the summer of 2020, we engaged in heightened listening, learning, and critical self-reflection. Our resulting renewed commitment at Thacher led us to take critical steps in the ongoing work of making our community a truly just and equitable one. This summer, Head of School Blossom Beatty Pidduck CdeP 1992 published a list of commitments. Since then, the School has begun the long term strategic work of fulfilling those commitments. Below is a digest of those commitments, the work that has been accomplished, and that which remains to be done.
|Implement anti-racist and anti-bias education and accountability at all levels of the institution.
At the start of the fall trimester, UCLA professor Dr. Gaye Theresa Johnson
guided our faculty through the first of a year-long series of antiracist and anti-bias professional development trainings. She is also currently working closely with the History Department, the director of DEI, and the director of studies to enrich Thacher pedagogy through antiracist and anti-bias lenses. Additionally, Dr. Johnson—on sabbatical from UCLA—is in residency on campus this year as our visiting Anacapa Scholar and teaching a sophomore Latin American History course.
|Hire additional BIPOC faculty and increase their representation in leadership roles at Thacher.
||Thacher has 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. Additionally, Strategenius is leading Thacher’s national search for the next dean of students.
|Hire a therapist of color who specializes in issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
Thacher has added several therapists to our nine-person counseling staff, which now includes professionals whose backgrounds and areas of specialization reflect the diversity of our student body.
|Create a multicultural resource center on campus.
|Beginning in January 2021 we will bring students and adults together under the direction of Equity Meets Design, to use a design thinking process in creating a new multicultural resource center.
|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. The work will be done in close collaboration with a team of Thacher stakeholders and the results of this work will be shared with the community.
|Assemble a DEI Task Force to guide our ongoing work and to hold the School accountable.
This team, currently in the development stage, will consist of representatives of all School constituencies. They will work in close partnership with Equity Meets Design, the head of school, and the director of DEI to be active participants in assessing, advising, and designing the path forward and in holding the School accountable to its commitments to racial equity and inclusion.
|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.
In concert with the above commitments and the strategic work being done to meet them, the School has taken immediate action on many other fronts, including the following.
- The Thacher Board of Trustees created its own DEI task force to direct its ongoing DEI development and growth plan. The board is also 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.
- Many faculty members focused their curricular efforts over the summer on expanding and deepening the DEI commitments and content of their courses.
- We have expanded our Spanish language translation and communication services for families.
- The School provided support and resources to faculty and staff to attend DEI professional development conferences and workshops.
- Over the summer of 2020, the School conducted alumni listening sessions to facilitate healing and restorative process and continues to partner with our Alumni Council in moving forward.
- We have refocused our dorm programming to bring more focus to DEI matters and make increased use of outside experts to help our students develop their cultural competencies and equity literacy.
- The campus community—students and adults—is engaged in a year-long process of community growth and restoration.
- We are working within our faculty and staff, parent, and alumni bodies to develop affinity spaces that support our DEI efforts and the Thacher community as a whole.