Students were political canvassers, escape room artists, physicists, fashionistas, inventors, thought leaders, collaborators, activists, change agents, and boat builders, among many other identities, during Project Week 2019.
Diversity & Inclusion
Mission Statement of Diversity and Inclusion
The Pingry School is committed to sustaining a welcoming and supportive environment both for children and families in its community and those interested in joining the Pingry family. Honoring our legacy and defining our future, the Pingry community values and celebrates a broad definition of diversity that includes ethnicity, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. Recognizing that the only constant in the world of tomorrow will be change, effective leadership will demand intellectual flexibility and agility, creativity, teamwork, comfort with complexity and ambiguity, experience with diversity, and, above all, character and honor. As we prepare our students to claim their place as leaders in the 21st century, it is essential that their intellectual engagement occur in a multicultural environment. Daily experiences with differing perspectives of our larger society, while leaning firmly into that which can be a source of discomfort, will prepare our graduates to thrive as culturally competent individuals in a multicultural world.
The Lower, Middle, and Upper School Multicultural Teams consist of faculty and staff who are charged with the responsibility of creating programs that support the Pingry School’s Mission Statement of Diversity and Inclusion. Division-specific programming is created and implemented so that our students may develop their cultural competency skills, helping us to create a more inclusive school community.
Pingry hosts opportunities for more informal discussions—called Courageous Conversations—among faculty and staff on a range of issues related to cultural competency. These gatherings, which take place over the lunch hour at different times throughout the year, cover various concepts including but not limited to microaggressions, heteronormativity, the danger of a single story, and unconscious bias. These hour-long lunches allow participants to ask questions and learn more about how we can combat harmful patterns here at school, so that we can continue to remain an inclusive space for everyone in our community.
In addition, once a month, administrators at Pingry participate in similar Courageous Conversations geared specifically to them and guided by carefully-selected readings. Recent examples have included Waking Up White, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria, and Other Conversations About Race. These conversations demonstrate our commitment to challenge the status quo not only among our faculty and staff, but also among the administrative leadership at Pingry.
Pingry faculty are strongly encouraged to engage in professional development on a regular basis. The expectation for continued skill development extends to Diversity and Cultural Competence. Support in the form of time and financial resources is generously provided for attendance at professional conferences. In addition to NJAIS local conferences and workshops, faculty and staff have attended the following: Border Crossers, Raising Race Conscious Children, the GSA Forum, the People of Color Conference, the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference, and the White Privilege Conference.
- Affinity Groups
- Student Diversity Leadership Committee
- Gay-Straight Alliance - Spectrum
- Catalyst for Change
The advisory program, designed by our faculty Multicultural Teams, for Grades K-5 and 6-12 provides workshops for students to hone their skills of cultural competency.
Lower School advisory programming focuses on self-awareness and similarities and differences within the community.
Middle School advisory programming delves deeper into the eight cultural identifiers, including ethnicity and race (Grade 6); age, gender, and religion (Form I); and ability, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status (Form II).
Upper School advisory programming centers around the intersectionality of identifiers as well as the impact of privilege, power, biases, and microaggressions.
Affinity Groups are available to our students and they may join any group with which they identify. These groups are designed to be safe spaces for students to learn more about their various identities and to discuss their questions, comments, and concerns with other students who share that same identity. Affinity groups meet twice a month and are led by students and faculty who also identify the same way.
Our Affinity Groups are offered based on racial/ethnic identities (Black/African-American, White/European American, East Asian-American, South Asian-American, and Multiracial), religious identities (Muslim, Christian, Jewish), gender identities (boys and girls), and our Spectrum groups for members of the LGBTQ+ community.
The Student Diversity Leadership Committee (SDLC) is a selective leadership opportunity for Upper School students who create cultural competency programs and deliver training to other Pingry students. The SDLC also goes off campus to work with other schools who may not be equipped to teach cultural competency as we do.
Recently, SDLC collaborated with Pingry’s Honor Board and Peer Leadership group to highlight how skills of cultural competency impact leadership in those areas. The members of SDLC have attended the People of Color Conference and other diversity trainings. They are a valued resource within the Pingry community.
The Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) - Spectrum offers programs and training opportunities designed to empower LGBTQ+ and allied students to organize and advocate for a safer school community. GSA leaders attend the GSA Forum and other diversity workshops and conferences. They are a valued resource within the Pingry community.
Catalyst for Change, the Middle School's Student Diversity Leadership Team, is charged with the task of creating opportunities for their classmates to engage in dialogue about diversity, inclusion, and cultural competency. These conversations are designed to help students prepare for the transition to the Upper School division.
Our K-12 assembly program provides the opportunity for learning, training, and celebrating diversity as we enjoy the privilege of welcoming guest speakers and entertainers to our community.
Diversity Assembly challenges our community to engage with the lessons we are learning about cultural competency in a different format.
Holocaust Assembly is a remembrance of those who were murdered and a living history lesson. We have enjoyed the privilege of hearing from Holocaust survivors and WWII rescue workers.
Lunar New Year Celebration includes performances by groups such as the Purple Swans Dance Troupe, and seminars on lantern making and the tradition of Chinese Paper Cutting.
Dr. Martin Luther King Assembly is a remembrance of Dr. King, which alternately includes musical performances and oral history about his life. In January 2016, we were privileged to hear from Dr. King’s advisor, speechwriter, and friend, Mr. Clarence B. Jones.
The Diversity Department, in collaboration with division directors, regularly hosts speakers and consultants to support the intentional and strategic skill development that is outlined in our Mission Statement of DIversity and Inclusion. Some of our speakers and consultants have included:
Dr. Steve Jones, expert in the area of diversity training, and C.E.O. of Jones Consulting.
Dr. Derald Wing Sue, Columbia University Professor who has authored books on the topics of microaggressions, cross-cultural counseling, and conversations on race.
Dr. Paula Rodriguez Rust, educational consultant who provides diversity and anti-bullying training, including a focus on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.
Royce Russell, Esq., former Assistant District Attorney in the Bronx, specializing in criminal defense, false arrest, and police brutality.
Hudson Taylor, founder and executive director of Athlete Ally, a nonprofit whose mission is to end homophobia and transphobia in the athletic community.
At Pingry, diversity is more than race. We certainly recognize that the social construct—race— is important to discuss. However, we also recognize that to simply focus on race significantly limits the scope of diversity and can marginalize our students and their families, as well as our faculty and staff. Instead, our community speaks about diversity in terms of 8 key cultural identifiers:
- sexual orientation
- socioeconomic status
In an effort to create safe spaces, we intentionally use the following norms within our diversity work, norms which are also used to further discussion at the NAIS People of Color Conference.
- Be fully present.
- Speak from the “I” perspective.
- Be self-responsible and self-challenging.
- Listen, listen, listen, and process.
- Lean into discomfort.
- Experiment with new behaviors in order to expand your range of response.
- Take risks, be raggedy, make some mistakes—then let go.
- Accept conflict and its resolution as a necessary catalyst for learning.
- Be comfortable with silence.
- Be crisp; say what’s core.
- Treat the candidness of others as a gift; honor confidentiality.
- Suspend judgment of yourself and others.
These norms have impacted the broader Pingry community, as they have been adopted by teachers in their classrooms and used in many faculty and staff conversations.
Our Lower School Multicultural Team facilitates campus-wide diversity activities, which are tailored to the developmental maturity of each grade. Themes include:
- "Who am I?"
- “When People See Me They Think…”
- "Learning from the Perspective of the Other."
Grades 3 - 5 dig into cultural competency work through the Decisions class and Diversity Units, created in response to students’ occasional hurtful and inappropriate use of cultural identifies. Students at this age may innocently create harm that can have lingering effects so this coursework teaches students skills for appropriate and culturally competent interactions.
Our Middle School Multicultural Team facilitates activities that allow for a more intentional and specific focus on each of the eight key cultural identifiers. Students have the opportunity to question how they interact with others who are different from themselves and explore ways in which they can work to better the school community as a whole.
Grade 6 Diversity Activities
Form I Diversity Activities
Form II Diversity Activities
- Sexual Orientation
- Socioeconomic Status
In addition, in Grade 6, students are required to take a Cultural Competency co-curricular course designed to increase their skills in this area. Students begin by exploring their own identities and move to a consideration of the perspective of others.
Our Student Diversity Leadership Committee (SDLC) facilities diversity activities across the Upper School, with the goal of fostering a more inclusive and welcoming environment.
- Form III students revisit the question of “Who Am I?” as the intersectionality of identities becomes salient.
- Form IV students begin to intentionally explore connections across identities in their “Deeper Dive—Building Deeper Connections” diversity activity.
- Form V students engaged in a diversity activity titled, “The Perspective of the Other,” which enables them to unpack the concepts of bias, microaggression, and intent versus impact.
- Form VI students' diversity activity, “Looking with a Broader Lens,” is designed to help our seniors prepare to leave Pingry and make their mark on the world by asking them to apply the learned concepts to real-world experiences, such as the college admission process.
Pingry’s Diversity and Inclusion Department includes a team of 30 faculty members. We are deliberate and intentional in our efforts to guide the Pingry community in achieving the goals outlined in our Mission Statement of Diversity and Inclusion. Our mission statement is an essential tool that sets the expectations for our community and helps to provide a level of accountability. At Pingry, this work is not optional. The acquisition of tools of cultural competency are required of all.
Programming that promotes cultural competency for students within the Pingry community is developed and implemented by the divisional Multicultural Team Coordinators. Their goal in developing training and other programming is to foster an open and inclusive environment for students and parents. Cross-divisional support of these teams is provided by the Assistant to the Department Chair.
In the Upper School, a team of affinity group leaders facilitates discussion-based curriculum for students in grades 9-12.
In partnership, Pingry’s Head of School and the Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Department oversee the systematic and organized approach to increased cultural competency within the K-12 school community.
Dr. Diana Artis
Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Department
Assistant to the Diversity and Inclusion Department Chair
“Diversity and inclusion form one of the four pillars upon which our school proudly rests. We are deliberate and intentional in our efforts to achieve a diverse and inclusive school community. We are transparent about our mission. Diversity and cultural competency are not options, but rather a way of life at Pingry. Our Diversity Mission Statement is an essential tool that sets the expectations for our community.”
—Dr. Diana Artis P ’09, ’16, Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Department
Countries represented in the Pingry Community