Enriched by Differences
Our differences are what we have in common.
We are committed to being a community where all are welcome and valued, regardless of race, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical ability, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, cultural practices/beliefs, nationality, or perspective.
In recent years, diversity and inclusion have been at the center of discussions within most school communities. While we believe WIS has been an inclusive environment throughout its history, there is always room for improvement. Our faculty, staff, and students participate in activities, events, and clubs that explore how we can learn from each other and express our ideas, beliefs, and opinions with empathy and civility.
IDI at WIS
A focus on IDI (international-mindedness, diversity, and inclusion) is one of the five key goals in the 2020 Strategic Plan. We established the following definitions so community members will have a common understanding of these terms.
International-Mindedness: A view of the world in which people see themselves connected to the global community and assume a sense of responsibility to its members. It is an awareness of the inter-relatedness of all nations and peoples, and a recognition of the complexity of these relationships. Internationally-minded people appreciate and value the diversity of cultures in the world and make an effort to learn more about them. (This definition comes from the International Baccalaureate.)
Diversity: The full range of differences and similarities — visible and non-visible — that make each individual unique.
Inclusion: The process of recognizing, valuing, and maximizing the opportunities that arise from having different perspectives and backgrounds.
IDI AUDIT BY PHILIP MCADOO
Dr. Philip McAdoo performed an IDI Audit for WIS in late 2020/early 2021. He briefed the Board and the Parents Association Board, as well as faculty, parent, and student groups. His report identified five key areas to address in regard to IDI. The first of these was to clearly define terms; the core definitions are on this page. The information below lists past and ongoing efforts organized into the four areas identified in the IDI Audit. The charter for a Board IDI Task Force is also included below.
KEY INITIATIVES anD NEW DEVELOPMENTS
- WIS will be bringing a full-time Director of IDI on board beginning with the 2023–2024 school year.
- THIS DOCUMENT explains WIS's approach to diversity and inclusion, as well as the intersection between IDI and the School's mission and approach to education.
- WIS's Speakeasy salons, launched in January 2023, use language learning as a lens to investigate international-mindedness.
- Members of the school leadership team, IDI Liaisons, and IDI Coordinator Lisa McNeill have been meeting with parents in small-group sessions to gather input and feedback on IDI initiatives.
- WIS's IDI Lecture Series kicked off in February 2022 with a presentation on "Black in America" by Julian Hipkins. Lecture two was a parent session on international-mindedness led by Head of School Suzanna Jemsby. Lecture three was actress/songwriter Dara Reneé. Lecture four, an interactive session led by WIS teachers, introduced parents to tools teachers use to facilitate deep thinking in the classroom.
- WIS sought community input on how the School can be more inclusive in its approach to recognizing religious and cultural observations.
- Middle and Upper School Affinity Groups began meeting in the 2021–2022 school year. Affinity groups continue in the current year, including Students of Color, Black, and White Accountability and Awareness. At the Primary School, work has begun to create faculty affinity groups and to investigate how student affinity groups might work.
- The school published a gender inclusion policy prior to the start of the 2021-2022 school year; all faculty and staff participated in related professional development.
- In February 2021, Lisa McNeill assumed the role of IDI Coordinator. Beginning in April 2021, she began sending regular FR-IDI-DAY Updates to inform parents and students about events, activities, and initiatives supporting IDI.
- The WIS Parents Association has committed to using its resources to support IDI initiatives and programming, and actively seeks involvement/leadership from all parents/guardians, striving for representation to mirror the student population.
WIS students and their families hail from 100 countries. Click on the image above for an interactive version of this map.
The Mara Wilson Fund honors the memory of Mara Wilson, a WIS Middle School Art and Design Technology Teacher and artist whose work was defined by her love for her community and her vision for a more just and equitable Washington, DC. The fund is designed to support initiatives at the School that increase awareness about racial inequities; instill a culture that directly challenges and denounces racism; and cultivate a school environment where individuals of color feel safe and confident, and where all community members are equipped to recognize racial insensitivity and feel compelled to take action against it.
Parents were asked to identify their children by ethnicity. Their answers are reflected in the pie charts above; respondents were permitted to choose more than one option.
The School admits qualified students without regard to race, color, national and ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, religion, mental or physical disability, age, or any other status protected by applicable law, including the DC Human Rights Act, to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the School. The School likewise complies with all applicable laws in the selection of its Board of Trustees and in the administration of its educational, admissions, scholarship and loan, athletic, and other School-administered policies and programs.