The Inclusive Community Initiative
Beyond academic, artistic, and athletic excellence, Saint Mary’s College High School is distinctive because it is a diverse and inclusive community. We enthusiastically embrace the social, economic, ethnic, and religious variety of its students share with one other. We are proud to be a Lasallian Catholic school and a truly Catholic community.
Simply assembling a diverse student body does not naturally result in true community. It requires intentional, ongoing effort on the part of everyone to educate each other, recognize cultural traditions, and share our varied perspectives through discussions designed to uncover points of view different from our own. A thriving pluralistic community must share and learn from each other in those challenging times when exclusion and ignorance threaten to alienate and balkanize some members of the community. It is no simple commitment. Indeed, the tendency to point to affinity clubs and presume they address the root causes of division leaves the outcome to mere hope. True community is intentional. It requires engagement in critical conversations across the lines that divide us, a willingness to learn, read, discuss, and listen, to question our own beliefs as well as others’. And it requires empathy.
Saint Mary’s Inclusive Community Initiative includes the following features:
- Training of faculty in culturally responsive teaching to recognize and reduce unconscious bias.
- A curriculum that fairly reflects the experiences of all peoples, their cultural contributions to the global community, and which teaches point of view, empathy, and self-knowledge.
- A digital library of resources on the school’s website for students, teachers, and all community members as a repository of information.
- Regular opportunities for structured classroom discussions on critical issues around class, race, politics, and religion.
- Student programs which celebrate each other’s cultures and traditions and recognize the common values and aspirations we share.
- A structured process--offered through the Inclusive Community Initiative--where students not only meet and discuss pressing issues that affect particular groups in our society but are subsequently shared with the entire school community through our Brown Bag Series
Brown Bag Series
The Brown Bag series was born out of a need for students and faculty to create a safe space on campus for courageous conversations to take place. This series involves students getting together once a week to discuss different topics during lunchtime that are focused on one specific group, while at the same time, building allyship and listeners within the group. Those who identify with the specific group are invited to speak, while allies attend to listen, learn and build empathy. The day before the Brown Bag, those students who identify with the chosen topic chat together and discuss what they want their allies to learn and process together
- Series Topics
- Growing Up Jewish in America
- Growing Up LatinX in America
- Growing Up LGBTQ+ in America
- Growing Up African American/Black in America
- Growing Up Asian in America (East Asian, Indian, Filipino/a)
- Growing Up Female in America
- Growing Up Male in America
- Growing Up with Loss in America
- Growing Up with Climate Change in America
- Growing Up Bi-Racial or Multi Racial in America
A group of 18 faculty and staff members have been trained to help facilitate the program on campus. Training included identity awareness, culturally responsive teaching practices, allyship training, creating authentic student/teacher relationships, and cultivating courageous conversations.
Team Mission Statement: As members of the Saint Mary’s community guided by the Lasallian Core Principles, the Inclusive Community Team strives to cultivate and develop an authentic, collaborative, and conscious program of diversity and education at Saint Mary’s for all stakeholders across generations. As Lasallian educators we are required to intentionally reflect and recognize that curriculum is best delivered when we first address each student as a whole person. Educators must educate themselves on culturally responsive practices and implement and reflect on them in their daily practice, inside and outside of the classroom. Students enter our community with valuable knowledge and experience; the Team strives to support student voices as leaders within the culture of Saint Mary’s and as they grow into social agents of positive change in the broader community.