Mission 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
As Cardinal Seán O'Malley recently stated, "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 diversity, equity and inclusion 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 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.
Dr. Crystal Kuykendall | St. Augustine Series Lecturer
Dr. Kuykendall joined the Austin Prep team in the Summer of 2020. No stranger to our campus, she was a guest speaker for the annual St. Augustine Lecture Series and deeply impressed faculty and students with her powerful storytelling and warm personality. Dr. Kuykendall has astounded audiences across four continents and brings a lifetime of experience to Willow Street. 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.
“I’d like to thank Dr. Hickey and the Board of Trustees for the opportunity to continue and expand on my work as a part of the Austin Prep community. In this role, I not only will look to support a more diverse community, but more importantly, build on the unity I feel here to make sure that every student, faculty and staff member feels as welcomed, loved, and included as I have in this community.” - Jaycob Morales
Mission and Inclusion Committee
The Mission and Inclusion Committee exists to promote an abiding respect for and to engage with a student body composed of a wonderful tapestry of diversity-racial, socioeconomic, religious, linguistic, and cultural. The committee also strives to develop partnerships with leaders in the greater community. The Mission and Inclusion Committee will work to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion at Austin Prep within the framework of Catholic social teaching and the School's Augustinian mission. The Committee already met in September and meets next on October 21. Dr. William Driscoll, Assistant Head / Upper School Head is Chair of the Committee and will keep you updated on developments and programming as the year progresses.
2020-2021 Mission and Inclusion Committee
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.
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.
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. Currently, there are 12 faculty members enrolled in a Diversity, Equity, and Social Justice course taught by Tom Bourdon of the Merrimack College faculty. This course is specially designed for Austin Prep and is based on Dr. Bourdon's years of experience teaching this course at the collegiate level.
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 months 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. This academic year, all our efforts will be in support of our school theme for the year: "I pray that they will all be one."
Increasing our instructional and leadership staffing to continue to advance the work we have started, including the addition of the Director of Mission and Inclusion and Coordinator of Community Engagement and Inclusion positions. Both positions were filled in advance of the 2020-2021 academic year.
Retaining the services of experts in diversity, equity, and inclusion to assist Austin Prep in curriculum development and programming, notably Dr. Crystal Kuykendall, who spoke and led activities during professional development week in August, intended to guide faculty in understanding the impact of culture on the behavior of people and organizations.
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. Currently, 12 faculty members are enrolled in a Diversity, Equity, and Social Justice course taught by Dr. Tom Bourdon of the Merrimack College faculty. The course was specially designed for Austin Prep and is based on Dr. Bourdon's years of experience teaching this course at the collegiate level.
Augment annual, mandatory anti-racism and anti-bias training for all faculty, leadership, staff, and students, including the Board of Trustees.
Launched a reconstituted Mission and Inclusion Committee in September 2020.
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.