Within an inclusive and diverse community of engaged partners, Harding Academy will set the standard for premier PreK-8 independent schools as we inspire our students’ intellectual development, embrace their balanced, personal growth, and develop well-prepared leaders and positive contributors to our 21st-century society.
- Vision for Harding Academy, Strategic Plan 2015
Our vision statement above lays out clearly our strategic direction as it relates to access and inclusivity. We seek an inclusive and diverse community of engaged partners in order to live out our mission. As such, the school is committed to a strategic diversity goal of engaging with and continuing to build a community that is reflective of our broader society in terms of race, nationality, ethnicity, religion, gender, family structure, native language, and socio-economic level.
In an effort to frame this work, we have adopted an approach that Al Adams outlined in Independent School Magazine in his article, " Four Roads Converge: On Access, Inclusion, Success, and Public Purpose"
. In short, we are on a journey to engage in conversation and decision-making around the following essential questions pertaining to diversity at Harding Academy:
Access: Who gets to come in the door? How did they find it? Who opened it for them?
Inclusion: Who feels at home when they walk in the door and who feels as if they are entering a foreign country?
Success: Who ultimately gets “the keys to the kingdom” - sufficient skills, knowledge, habits of mind, and ways of being - to reach their potential and gain agency in the larger world?
Public Purpose: Is the school orientated to being a part of, or apart from, the larger community? And will my values be affirmed by being associated with the school?
As you know, these are not questions that will be answered in 18 months or 18 years, as this is an area in which our school will always be on a journey as we seek to offer exceptional educational experiences for our students. In the summer of 2017, our faculty and staff read the New York Times bestseller, The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace
by Jeff Hobbs, which is a true story of a young man from Newark, New Jersey, who works his way to Yale but meets an early death due to his involvement in selling drugs. Robert Peace had many identities - son, teacher, scientist, traveller, college student - and he struggled to reconcile all of them with each other. Robert’s story helped us as a faculty and staff enter into conversations around access, inclusion, success and public purpose. These conversations have continued and have become more specific, as we explore implicit bias and engage in a curriculum review focused on offering inclusive perspectives.
As part of The Insight Series
, Jeff Hobbs will be here in the Henderson Theatre on November 15, at 7:00 PM, to talk with us about the book and his experiences. This special event is presented by the Don Schwartz Distinguished Educator Speaker Series Endowment. I invite you to join us and bring friends from the community; you can register HERE
. It promises to be a thought-provoking night and one that befits our learning community.
I look forward to seeing you all there.