|Welcome from Our Diversity Coordinator
Among our goals as educators is the need to prepare our students for a future in which our vision needs to be constantly readjusted. How are we creating opportunities for our students to thrive in a global world where the traditional borders are transformed by new technology, economics, politics and culture? We are empowering them through diverse experiences, helping them to understand the world with a sharpened awareness of and appreciation for differences.
Diversity Mission Statement
Adopted by the Faculty and Board of Trustees
Rooted in the belief that diversity creates excellence, Staten Island Academy welcomes a multiplicity of voices and perspectives that includes, but is not limited to, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, family structure and economic backgrounds. We are committed to a program that deepens understanding of our multicultural world and affirms inclusivity in and outside the classroom. We expect members of our community to engage in open and ongoing dialogue on diversity issues to promote awareness, understanding and respect and to use these conversations as catalysts for individual and collective growth. To move beyond tolerance, we support and assist our students, faculty and parents in successfully negotiating and embracing the distinctive heritages, beliefs, and differences that form our common humanity.
Lower School: Understanding Interconnectedness
Throughout the Lower School, whether it is in Grade 1 when students become aware of the changing notions of family or Grade 2 when they explore the Cinderella story around the world, the issues of gender, class, and family structure prompt our students to think about diversity and its many implications. When Grade 3 students begin their study of the continents, it is the start of a journey that leads them to explore international child labor issues and fundraise for the Pennies for Peace program. Studying immigration and the effect of contact upon indigenous people helps our Grade 3 and 4 students reflect on cultural biases. These experiences help our students understand interconnectedness and develop a global perspective.
Middle School: Responsibility of Global Citizenship
Middle School students focus their multicultural experiences through in-depth cultural and historical studies of India, China and the Middle East. In works of fiction and nonfiction, students gain critical awareness on themes of intolerance, ability differences, cultural conflicts, genocide, prejudice, and racism. Music, art, and dance provide opportunities for cross-cultural expression. Grade 7 students forge connections with students in Indonesia to explore climate change, collaborating to propose solutions for global warming. Academy students will truly understand the need for inclusivity and their responsibilities as global citizens and be prepared to meet them with enlightened attitudes and competence.
Upper School: Challenges of Assimilation and Acceptance
In the 2008 fall Symposium, Upper School students built upon the foundation set in their summer reading, discussing challenges of assimilation and acceptance facing immigrants. Our community learned how different cultures celebrate light as we decorated the main student dining hall for winter festivities.
On Upper School Awareness Day 2009, some students confronted issues of racial tension, while the Model United Nations team examined and debated global concerns, simultaneously challenging and refining their own ideas. The World Language Department embarked on their Challenge 20/20 experience with a school in Singapore, exploring the issues of global education. Like our trips to England and France, these opportunities enhance those that are embedded in the curriculum.
Professional Workshops and Conferences for Faculty and Staff
A Diversity Action Committee was created in 2008, composed of Staten Island Academy faculty from all divisions. Several committee members have attended professional workshops and conferences concerning diversity and multicultural issues. With increased understanding gained from their participation, they can help all to even more effectively identify and challenge barriers which perpetuate monocultural views. The November Professional Development Day in 2008 was dedicated to enriching our educational practices and skills, working toward our mission of “celebrating our diverse citizenry.” Sessions on the professional development day in February 2010 will elaborate on these themes when faculty will lead workshops on a variety of issues that present challenges in cultural competency.
Differences Recognized and Honored
For every member of the school, increased self-awareness leads to more meaningful and authentic cross-cultural relationships and benefits our community’s understanding of diversity. As differences are recognized and honored, a multicultural perspective is fostered, enabling our students to evolve into the architects who will help build global bridges.