"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
In the midst of social unrest in the Summer of 2020, Cardinal Seán O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston, wrote that "Catholics are called to uphold and defend the truth that Black Lives Matter." 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.
Our approach to educating for justice is indispensable in fulfilling our mission and honoring our tradition. 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 realize that education opportunity gaps exist across society and that we can play a role in contributing to social justice. It is with a sense of humility that we commit to lifelong learning and strive to align our aspirations with word and action.
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 and we work continuously to eliminate implicit bias through ongoing education, professional development, and programming.
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 and learning from the lived experiences of others, by sharing perspectives, and by aligning our actions with our core values of veritas, unitas, and caritas.
We look forward to sharing updates with you and welcome you to check back from time to time.
Dr. Crystal Kuykendall | St. Augustine Series Lecturer
Dr. Kuykendall first came to campus in March 2020 at the invitation of the Head of School to be the keynote speaker at the 2020 St. Augustine Lecture, Austin Prep’s most celebrated opportunity to enrich the intellectual life of the School. As a recognized expert who has astounded audiences across four continents and brought her lifetime of experience to Willow Street, Dr. Kuykendall deeply impressed faculty and students with her powerful storytelling and warm personality. She joined our team in the summer of 2020 to be our partner to advance our ongoing work to educate for justice.
Dr. Kuykendall has also taught at Seton Hall University and Montclair State University and is the former Executive Director of the National Alliance of Black School Educators. She has also served as the Director of Urban & Minority Relations for the National School Boards Association and the Director of the Citizens Training Institute of the National Committee for Citizens in Education.
Fr. Jorge Reyes, OSA | Director of Mission and Inclusion
Fr. Reyes provides a connection to our school’s traditions as an Augustinian Priest. Fr. Reyes brings a depth of experience working with historically marginalized groups. Most recently, he was in the Archdiocese of Albany where he served as the Director of the Hispanic Apostolate and served the city’s poor. Born in Cuba and raised in Boston, Fr. Reyes has spent much of his career as a pastor in communities of color including in the Dominican Republic and St. Mary of the Assumption in Lawrence. Additionally, Fr. Reyes was the head of a secondary school for several years in the Dominican Republic.
Mr. Jaycob Morales | Coordinator of Community Engagement and Inclusion
Advancing its continuing commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, Austin Preparatory School named Jaycob Morales as the School’s Coordinator of Community Engagement and Inclusion. In this trailblazing role, Morales will build upon the School’s dedication to create an inclusive community where all students feel a sense of belonging while guided by the Augustinian virtues of veritas, unitas, and caritas, translated as truth, unity and love.
Morales has been a part of the Austin Prep community for the last two years as an assistant boys basketball and football coach. Morales, who is fluent in Spanish, received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Wheaton College in 2016, and is a graduate of Central Catholic High School.
Dustin Batista | Coordinator of Service Projects
Mr. Batista earned a Bachelor's Degree in Religious and Theological Studies from Merrimack College. He went on to earn a Master's degree in Pastoral Theology from St. Joseph College in Maine. Mr. Batista has worked within the school and parish setting walking with people in their journey of faith as Teacher, Campus Minister, Youth Minister, Pastoral Minister, and Director of Faith Formation. He is a member of the Theta Alpha Kappa National Honors Society and a lay Xaverian Brothers Associate.
Sr. Paskazia Nakitende and Sr. Mary Namutebe | Campus Ministry
Austin Prep is privileged to welcome the Daughters of Mary to the School community to share their mission with us. Founded in 1910 in Uganda and placed under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Bannabikira Sisters were elevated to Pontifical status by Pope Pius XII in 1958. The mission of the Bannabikira Sisters is to educate young people, care for the sick, and engage in social work, all inspired by the spirit of the Motherhood of Mary. In coming to Austin Prep, the Daughters of Mary will expand their apostolate to our School and the Archdiocese of Boston. The Daughters of Mary have several apostolates, including St. Aloysius Girls Secondary School in Kalungu, Central Region, Uganda. In addition to educating young women, the School provides food, clothing, medical care, and domicile for their students.
The arrival of the Bannabikira Sisters is a blessing and opportunity to deepen Austin Prep’s connection to a global world, to broaden our horizons and perspectives about culture, race and the lived experiences of others, and to advance the work we do in the Lord’s Vineyard to spread the Kingdom of God.
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.
During the 2017-2018 academic year, Austin Prep celebrated the 25 year milestone of admitting young women. As part of the efforts to celebrate that milestone in the history of Austin Prep, that year's advisory theme was Advancing Excellence: 25 Years of Coeducation. Discussions, classroom activities, and guest speakers focused on the contributions of women in our society.
"During my professional career, I’ve only worked in coeducation and in the students I’ve encountered so far, I’ve found that female students often outshine their male counterparts. I’ve encountered more female championship teams, more women elected to positions of student leadership, and more female valedictorians and salutatorians in the graduating class." - Dr. James Hickey, from his September 2017 Convocation remarks. During the 2017-2018 academic year, Austin Prep celebrated 25 years of co-education.
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 asI Am Malala, Outcasts United, Out of My Mind, and David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants.
Investing in the Faculty
Austin Prep is committed to advancing our cultural proficiency by investing in professional development with a goal of increasing our knowledge and refining our skills in teaching a diverse population of students. Members of our administration and faculty have been actively participating in webinars run by the University of Notre Dame, Boston College, NAIS, AISNE, NEASC, and the NCEA. Last year, more than 20 faculty members enrolled in a Diversity, Equity, and Social Justice course taught by a member of the Merrimack College faculty.
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, Fr. Bryan Hehir served as the 2021 St. Augustine Lecturer. Fr. Bryan Hehir is the Parker Gilbert Montgomery Professor of the Practice of Religion and Public Life at the Harvard Kennedy School and the Secretary of Health and Social Services on the staff of Cardinal Sean O’Malley in the Archdiocese of Boston. His teaching, research and writing focus on ethics and foreign policy and the role of religion in world politics and in American society. 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. Fr. Hehir is also a recipient of the Laetare Medal, the highest award of the University of Notre Dame.
As calls for action to address racial injustice have amplified around the world, Austin Prep has listened 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, our efforts will be sustained, responsive, and deliberate as we aim to achieve the ideals of racial justice in our school and create a community where ALL are truly welcome.
Our students are our promise. We are acutely aware that peace and justice will not be attained through academic approaches alone. Our strategic plan is to engage students in meaningful learning experiences that propel our values into action. Students have spearheaded efforts to be of charity to those in need because of the marginalization they suffer because of systemic racism and implicit bias. Such programs include annual Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter drives to be of service to families in Lawrence. Other projects have included traveling to Ecuador, New Zealand and Peru.
This academic year, all our efforts will be in support of our school theme for the year: "Love one another as I have loved you."
September 6-8: Rosh Hashanah and September 15-16:Yom Kippur
Honoring our fellow brothers and sister in faith through All-School Prayer
Deeper study of the Jewish roots of our faith in Theology Classes
September 15-October 15 Hispanic Heritage Month
Highlighting achievements of Hispanic men and women in the curriculum, on social media platforms and in places of honor in the school.
Showcasing the flags of our students and faculty with Hispanic heritage
Hosting musical, visual and performing artists to campus for visits
Celebrating Mass in Spanish throughout the month
Meals featuring the cuisine of Hispanic countries with educational programming to introduce the historical and cultural significance of these meals