Since the mid 1990s, a concerted effort has been made at the highest levels to strengthen our community by increasing the number of students and faculty of color and to advance diversity and inclusivity as part of the fundamental fabric of the Burroughs experience.
Preparing students for the globally oriented world requires community-wide vigilance to assure our diversity work is broadly defined and culturally relevant. Burroughs is committed to a multi-prong approach, including ongoing education, dedication of resources, broad and transparent accountability, while institutionalizing new policies and practices.
Current efforts focus on revising our strategic plan for diversity and inclusivity which was developed by an ad hoc committee of trustees, parents, alumni and faculty. The 2006 plan provided broader vision, greater structure and more coordination to our work. It identified seven major goals:
- To ensure the integration of diversity, inclusivity and multicultural/global education in curriculum design.
- To improve faculty and staff recruitment and support programs so that more potential applicants of color are attracted to, considered for and hired for teaching and administrative positions.
- To provide more staff and faculty professional development opportunities in diversity and multicultural/global education.
- To provide more opportunities for students to learn about and demonstrate leadership skills and cultural competencies.
- To develop a critical mass of diverse families—representing all ethnicities, religions and socioeconomic classes—who are involved in and support Burroughs’ diversity, inclusivity and multicultural/global efforts.
- To create a campus that physically and visually demonstrates a diverse, inclusive, multicultural/global, liberal arts focus.
- To evaluate the progress of its efforts.
It also provided detailed action steps and an implementation schedule which are being updated based on our 2011 school-wide re-assessment of inclusivity and multiculturalism (NAIS's AIM).
Here are some of the highlights of our work to date:
A threshold decision was made by the administration in 1997 when it established the position of Diversity Coordinator. This decision concretized the administration’s commitment to diversity and provided bona fide resources. Four years later that position was expanded to Director of Diversity & Multicultural Education. But the job did not belong to just one "office."
One-third of our faculty and staff sit on a diversity committee which reviews and makes recommendations on curriculum development and delivery, professional development and the campus environment.
In addition to their regular teaching assignments, 14 faculty members have assumed responsibility for various student programs falling under the "diversity" umbrella. This involves working with specific student interest groups and helping those groups develop assembly presentations and symposiums which benefit the entire community.
These faculty members also contribute to the local and national dialogue. They participate in NAIS’s annual People of Color Conference, NAIS's Call to Action think tank, ISACS' annual conference and ISACS' Diversity Summit and Equity Committee. In the last several years, we have opened several of Burroughs' diversity programs to other area public/private school communities.
Burroughs provides — and requires — ongoing in-house diversity and cultural competency training for our faculty-at-large. Since 1999, local, regional and national experts have led workshops on campus for our faculty, and, when possible, for others in the St. Louis community.
Board of Trustees
The Board established a Committee on Diversity in 1998, again signaling from the highest level that diversity efforts would not be left to chance. The committee has been resolute in ensuring that our work around “diversity and inclusivity” is a far broader endeavor, the benefits and responsibilities of which extend to students, parents, alumni, faculty and staff.
The committee has relied on a broad range of input, from the efforts and experiences of peer schools and assessments by independent consultants to parent focus groups and faculty retreats to the recent AIM.
- confirmation of our school's Christmas program as a valued tradition
- the decision to close school when Rosh Hashanah and/or Yom Kippur fall within the school week
- establishing “Bridges” interracial dialogue parent groups
- sponsoring a roundtable on diversity in corporate life
- collaborating with our admissions office to offer a reception for families of color who are considering Burroughs for their children
- sponsoring a year-end JBS African American family dinner
- sponsoring a Board-faculty-staff workshop with Steven Jones, a national diversity and inclusion consultant
- formally including work around diversity as part of individual faculty evaluations
- providing faculty, staff and parent training around gender identity and micro-aggressions
- launching The Equity Exchange, a Burroughs/SLPS collaboration to broaden our work in social, cultural and global competency for diversity practitioners nationwide.
- establishing the steering committee for the Community & Equity Partnership as the epicenter of programming around diversity, inclusivity and cultural competency for parents and alums.
- implementing cultural competency recommendations, affinity groups and continuing curricular discussions as an outgrowth of our ISACS self-studies
- 2000 Burroughs hosted NCCJ Building an Inclusive Community Workshop.
- 2001 Department of Justice recognized Burroughs' diversity efforts as aggressive, innovative and comprehensive.
- 2001 Burroughs hosted the "Lift Every Voice and Sing" exhibit, on loan from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
- 2003 Burroughs hosted Frankie Muse Freeman, a civil rights leaders, for a student assembly and a "fireside" chat with parents.
- 2004 Burroughs hosted Gene Batiste, NAIS vice president of equity and justice who discussed the role of affinity groups in an inclusive community.
- 2005 At the request of NAIS, Burroughs participated in a pilot of its Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism.
- 2007 Burroughs hosted FOCUS St. Louis and KETC-Channel 9's "Black, White & Green: Community Conversations."
- 2008 Burroughs hosted a viewing and discussion of the PBS documentary, "Race: The Power of an Illusion."
- 2009 Burroughs hosted the Rev. Samuel "Billy" Kyles, a civil rights leader and a personal friend and witness to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination.
- 2011 Burroughs hosted Tim Wise, national anti-racist educator and author, for a student assembly, a faculty workshop and an evening session open to the St. Louis community.
- 2011 Burroughs hosted Senator Jack Danforth who led a discussion on the diversity of thought during a student assembly, several individual classes and an evening session open to the St. Louis community.
- 2011 - 2012 Burroughs engaged in a community-wide NAIS Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism.
- 2013 Burroughs hosted Eliachi Kimaro, Seattle-based filmmaker, who screened and discussed her documentary "A Lot Like You," which explores Kimaro's mixed-race heritage and situates her personal family history within a social, historical and political context of African decolonization, transnational relations, race, class and gender violence.
- 2014 Head of School Andy Abbott received the NCCJ's Brotherhood Sisterhood Award.
- 2014 Burroughs facilitated student, faculty, alum and parent discussions/presentations around Ferguson.
- 2014 Burroughs hosted an evening program featuring a panel on religious pluralism for the greater St. Louis community.
- 2015 Burroughs screend I’m Not Racist ~ Am I? in a workshop with students from SLPS, McCleur and Ladue who viewed and processed the documentary with JBS students.
- 2015 Burroughs hosted Rohina Malik for an evening and an assembly presentation of her one-woman play, Unveiled, about Muslim women in a post-9/11 world.
- 2016 Burroughs hosted the Fargesn Project filmmaker for an evening program, assembly and several class discussions; area activists were also included.
- 2016 Burroughs sponsored a program on the intersection of religion and politics, featuring Mark Smith (chair, JBS History Department), Marie Griffith (director, The Danforth Center for Religion and Politics), and a panel of area religious leaders.