Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
"Racism arises when — either consciously or unconsciously — a person holds that his or her own race or ethnicity is superior, and therefore judges persons of other races or ethnicities as inferior and unworthy of equal regard. When this conviction or attitude leads individuals or groups to exclude, ridicule, mistreat, or unjustly discriminate against persons on the basis of their race or ethnicity, it is sinful. Racist acts are sinful because they violate justice. They reveal a failure to acknowledge the human dignity of the persons offended, to recognize them as the neighbors Christ calls us to love (Mt 22:39). Racism occurs because a person ignores the fundamental truth that, because all humans share a common origin, they are all brothers and sisters, all equally made in the image of God. When this truth is ignored, the consequence is prejudice and fear of the other, and—all too often—hatred."
~ Excerpt from Open Wide Our Hearts, a Pastoral Letter from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
People, Programs, and Promise
At Austin Prep, the foundation of our community is our Catholic and Augustinian tradition. This underpins our educational approach to develop a community that reflects the diversity of the human family. In the Confessions, St. Augustine of Hippo, wrote that we are members of the same family and we must respect the inherent dignity of all human beings. This respect is at the heart of our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
We are fully committed to fostering a community where every member of Austin Prep is celebrated. We expect and hold members of the Austin Prep community accountable to respect each others’ individual differences, which include, but are not limited to, their race, ethnicity, religion, language, gender, culture, ability, age, learning style, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. Austin Prep condemns racism, bigotry, or intolerance in any form.
We will continue to work deliberately to ensure that the Board of Trustees, administration, faculty, staff, and student body reflect the diversity that is present in the rapidly changing and increasingly diverse society.
We welcome all into our community and work continuously to eliminate implicit bias through ongoing education, professional development, and programming. We are all made in the image and likeness of God and all human beings possess worth and dignity. Freedom from all types of discrimination is a right of all members of the Austin Prep community.
Austin Prep has been making progress to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion, but we also recognize our work is not done. Austin Prep is committed to improving our sensitivity, our insight, and our celebration of diversity and differences. We continue our Journey in the footsteps of St. Augustine by listening, by sharing perspectives, and by aligning our actions with our core values of veritas, unitas, and caritas. As Cardinal Seán O'Malley recently stated, "Catholics are called to uphold and defend the truth that Black Lives Matter."
Select Progress and Achievements in the Last Few Years
Establishing Austin Prep’s first faculty and staff Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.
Securing more than a $200,000 commitment from an alumnus to be exclusively used to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.
Conducting annual mandatory training for the faculty and staff aimed at the elimination of harassment, intimidation, and hostile workplace and learning environments on campus.
Initiating training to heighten awareness around bias and discrimination in the workplace, including specific training for management and those in leadership positions.
Expanding scholarship programs to fund numerous full and partial scholarships for students of diverse backgrounds.
Hosting small group discussions with diverse students to gain greater insight into their experiences at Austin Prep and to provide diverse students opportunities to voice their perspectives.
Supporting and encouraging students and staff to participate in diversity conferences and workshops each year. These fully-funded opportunities include participation in conferences such as the National Association of Independent School’s (NAIS) Annual People of Color Conference, the Association of Independent Schools of New England’s (AISNE) Middle School Students of Color Conference, and AISNE leadership conferences that feature experts on diversity, equity, and inclusion. All students and staff benefit from the experiences as conference participants share their experiences with the larger Austin Prep community.
Admissions and Tuition Assistance
Austin Prep undertakes recruitment efforts that draw students from approximately 60 communities. Over the last several years, Austin Prep has awarded more than $1.2 million in scholarships and assistance to students from diverse communities. We engage staff with connections to communities of color to assist in our outreach. Our admissions team attends regional admissions fairs in ethnically diverse communities, extending invitations to visit the Austin Prep campus.
Austin Prep’s admissions strategies are reviewed on an annual basis to advance Austin Prep's outreach to diverse prospective students and families. This has been a priority of the Board of Trustees and the Head of School.
Our tradition of veritas grounds Austin Prep in our academic mission. We embrace the intellectual and moral imperative to encourage the study of authors, artists and thinkers from around the globe and from a variety of perspectives and traditions. Students and faculty search for Truth and are engaged in dialogue and debate about the most essential questions of life, including justice and equity.
Over the last several years, new courses were introduced into the curriculum such as Voices on the Fringe, Passing in Literature, Contemporary World Literature, Giants of Asia, Stories of Africa, Demystifying the Middle East, Nationalism and Identity in Latin America, Women in American History, and the study of Mandarin as a language beginning in the 6th grade. We believe these courses deepen students’ understanding and awareness of cultural and ethnic diversity and help shape them to become responsible global citizens. Our annual all-school summer reading program for faculty, staff, and students underscores the lived experience of diverse people with non-fiction books such as I Am Malala and Outcasts United.
School-wide Speaker Series
Austin Prep annually hosts several school-wide speakers who dedicate their presentations to expanding diversity, equity, inclusion, and sensitivity. Recognizing the adolescent developmental stages of our students, speakers tailor their remarks to reflect the age of the audience. As a recent example, the 2020 speaker for the St. Augustine Lecture was Dr. Crystal Kuykendall, a highly acclaimed and recognized authority on facilitating change in educational institutions and an authority on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Named for Austin Prep’s patron saint, the St. Augustine Lecture Series began in 2015 and is designed to enrich the intellectual life of the school community by introducing students to accomplished individuals who share their experiences and life lessons.
On the Horizon for 2020-2021
As calls for action to address racial injustice have amplified around the world, Austin Prep has spent the last few weeks listening to members of our community, reflecting, assessing, and identifying specific actions we can take to begin to do our part as a school community to remedy deficiencies at Austin Prep. To be clear, this is simply a starting point of what will be a sustained, responsive, and deliberate effort to achieve the ideals of racial justice in our school and create a community where ALL are truly welcome.
Increasing our instructional and leadership staffing to continue to advance the work we have started.
Retaining the services of experts in diversity, equity, and inclusion to assist Austin Prep in curriculum development and programming.
Increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion professional development opportunities for faculty and staff, including retaining the services of experts who will work exclusively with Austin Prep.
Augment annual, mandatory anti-racism and anti-bias training for all faculty, leadership, staff, and students, including the Board of Trustees.
Enhance initiatives and support for faculty to focus on anti-racist pedagogy and practices.
Continue to invite speakers to campus from diverse backgrounds to share their experience and expertise with students and staff.
Expand our teaching and learning endeavours beyond campus by taking part in physical or virtual tours of sites that will enhance student and faculty understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion. Examples include but are not limited to The Holocaust Museum, Native American Heritage Museum, National Museum of African American History and Culture, The Civil Rights Museum.
Increasing the opportunities for diverse students to share their perspective and experience with the intent of augmenting our work to achieve justice.
Department Chairs will work with their respective faculty members to ensure that the curriculum continues to foster rich discussions about bias, racism, inequality, and diversity.