Ms. Schurdak has been working as an administrator with this age group for over 20 years and is excited to join Pingry, having been struck “by the commitment of the Middle School faculty to educating middle schoolers… They are both serious and joyful about their work.”
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging
Mission Statement of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging
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.
Faculty and Staff Programming
- Multicultural Teams
- Off-Campus Professional Development
- On-Campus Professional Growth
- Faculty & Staff Hiring
- Affinity Groups
The Lower, Middle, and Upper School Multicultural Teams consist of faculty and staff who come together to learn about identity development through book or article discussions. These professional learning groups support the Pingry School’s Mission Statement of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and belonging by developing cultural competency skills and helping us to create a more inclusive school community. In the Lower and Middle Schools, the Multicultural Teams also support student-centered programming.
Off-Campus Professional Development
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: Center for Racial Justice in Education, Raising Race Conscious Children, the GSA Forum, the National Association of Independent Schools’ (NAIS) People of Color Conference, the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference, and the White Privilege Conference.
On-Campus Professional Growth
At Pingry, we recognize that the work of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging belongs to everyone. In addition to the School's partnership with Blink Consulting on a series of school-wide educational talks, every year, every employee engages in on-campus DEIB-related professional development and in-service days, the themes of which include:
- Owning Antiracism at Pingry (an introduction to antiracism)
- Building Baseline Fluency of DEIB Terms with the DEIB Team (microaggressions: how to spot and then interrupt them; privilege; antiracism)
- Book discussion: How to be an Antiracist, by Ibram Kendi
- Antiracism in Practice
- School-wide discussion: Why is DEIB Important at Pingry?
Faculty & Staff Hiring
Our People Operations Team is always on the lookout for talented and motivated educators and professionals. Pingry understands the value of students seeing themselves reflected in the faculty and staff who steward their social, academic, and athletic growth. Our People Operations team has welcomed a number of highly experienced, qualified, innovative, and stand-out faculty and staff members with diverse experiences and backgrounds to help us drive key strategies and initiatives. We are committed to continuing to identify and hire talented and diverse faculty and staff. Pingry is committed to providing anti-bias training for all hiring managers and employees frequently involved in hiring decisions.
Affinity Groups have been part of Pingry’s culture for several years. These spaces bring together people around a common identifier such as gender, religion, race, and ethnicity. The groups gather to talk about experiences common to their shared identifier for affirmation and to build community. Pingry supports Affinity Groups for students, parents, alumni, and employees.
Affinity Groups for faculty and staff include:
Pingry Employees of Color
Black Employees of Pingry
LGBTQ+ Employees of Pingry
Jewish Employees Affinity Group
Pingry’s student programming prepares students for a more global and interconnected world. Below are some of the ways in which we promote inclusion and awareness of diversity issues in our community.
- Affinity Groups
- Student Unions
- Student Diversity Leadership Committee (SDLC)
- Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network (GSA)
- Pingry Allyship Collective (PAC)
- Observances and Celebrations
An Affinity Group is a gathering of people who share an identity (i.e., race, gender, family status, religion, etc.). Affinity Groups provide time and space for participants to reflect, share experiences, share resources, and celebrate their identities. Although individuals in the group share an identifier, not everyone may share the same experiences.
Affinity Groups are available to our Upper and Middle School 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 in the Upper School and are led by students and faculty who share the identifier. In the Middle School, affinity groups meet each week.
Our Affinity Groups are offered based on racial/ethnic identities (Black/African-American, Latinx/Hispanic-American, White/European American, East Asian-American, South Asian-American, Middle Eastern, and Multiracial), religious identities (Muslim, Christian, Jewish), gender identities (boys and girls), and LGBTQ+ student affinity group.
Middle School students may choose to participate in one of seven affinity groups: Asian, South Asian, Latinx, Black, White allyship, Gender and Sexual Orientation Alliance and Affinity Group, and a Jewish student affinity group.
The advisory program provides workshops—designed by our faculty Multicultural Teams for Grades K-5 and 6-12—for students to hone their skills of cultural competency.
Lower School cultural competency programming focuses on social-emotional learning, self-awareness, and social impact through the lens of developing our school community.
Middle School advisory programming delves deeper into cultural identifiers, including ethnicity, race, and age (Grade 6); ability and religion (Form I); and gender, 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.
Pingry’s Upper School Student Unions are open to anyone in the community to join their classmates to learn about the experiences and cultures of the sponsor organization. These groups invite students into conversations, hold informative (and fun) events, and sometimes cross-collaborate. Pingry has four student unions:
- Black Student Union
- Asian Student Union
- Latino Student Union
- Gender and Sexuality Alliance
Student Diversity Leadership Committee (SDLC)
A valued resource within the school community, The Student Diversity Leadership Committee is a selective leadership opportunity for Upper School students who create cultural competency programs and deliver training to other Pingry students during selected advisory periods. The SDLC also goes off campus to work with other schools who may not be equipped to teach cultural competency.
Among its initiatives, SDLC has collaborated with Pingry’s Honor Board and Peer Leadership group to highlight how skills of cultural competency impact leadership in those areas. SDLC also works through the advisory program, visiting advisory groups throughout the year to hold discussions about inclusivity and belonging. Members of SDLC have attended the People of Color Conference and other diversity trainings.
Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network (GSA)
Pingry Allyship Collective (PAC)
The Pingry Allyship Collective’s mission is “To create, promote, and facilitate an environment that encourages productive diversity-related discussions among all members of the Pingry community.” This group was originally composed of the student leaders of Diversity-centered clubs and groups, and has expanded to include any Upper School student who wants to participate.
In August 2020, The Pingry School began to examine, evaluate, and improve DEIB efforts in athletics in several ways:
- Personnel specifically designated to work in athletics and DEIB
- Have a diverse, equitable, inclusive lens on the various pieces of the athletics experience: transportation, scheduling, uniforms, celebrations, optional team gear, etc.
- Trainings and Diversity Dialogues for coaches with a strong focus on the adjunct coaching community
Observances and Celebrations
2023 Basking Ridge Lunar New Year Assembly
2023 Short Hills Lunar New Year Assembly
2022 Hispanic Heritage Month Assembly
2022 LGBTQ+ History Month Assembly
2022 Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month Assembly
2021-22 Land Acknowledgement in honor of Native American Heritage Month
Parent Affinity Groups
Affinity groups are safe spaces for people who share part of their identity to gather and to discuss issues of common concern. Parent affinity groups are for parents/caregivers who identify as part of the specific community or are parents/caregivers to Pingry students who are part of those communities. They also serve to:
- Facilitate communication between Pingry leadership and communities which we serve.
- Be a voice for Muslim, Black, AAPI, Latinx, Jewish, and LGBTQ+ students.
The six affinity groups available for parents/caregivers are:
Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Parents
Alumni Affinity Groups
Student- and faculty-led programming that marks Hispanic Heritage Month, Black History Month, Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, Pride Month, and Women's History Month, among other annual occasions, in addition to regular assemblies and guest speakers, provide the opportunity for us to observe, learn, and celebrate diversity within our community.
Speakers and Consultants
The Department of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, in collaboration with division directors, regularly hosts speakers and consultants to support the intentional and strategic skill development as outlined in our Mission Statement. Speakers and consultants have included:
Dr. Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.: The James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor and Chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton, Dr. Glaude is one of the nation’s most prominent scholars. An author, political commentator, public intellectual, and passionate educator, he examines the complex dynamics of the American experience. His writings take a wide look at Black communities, the difficulties of race in the United States, and the challenges we face as a democracy.
Alison Park, Blink Consulting: Ms. Park, who has keynoted at numerous conferences, including NAIS's People of Color Conference, has led consulting efforts as well as professional development for our faculty, staff, and Board of Trustees to further the work of our DEIB mission.
Musicworks: Musicworks integrates music from across the globe to make diversity, equity, and inclusion topics accessible and engaging for students. Founder Jesse Neuman approaches DEIB with the assumption that students of all ages are poised and willing to tackle tough conversations and are open to more expansive perspectives through exposure to quality artists and movements, and carefully moderated discussion.
K-12 Diversity Curriculum
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 recognizes and seeks to have conversations about many cultural identifiers:
- sexual orientation
- socioeconomic status (class)
- body image
- educational background
- academic/social achievement
- geographic/regional background
- learning style
- beliefs (political, social, religious)
These cultural identifiers are introduced in Grades K-4, and are explored more in depth beginning in Grade 5.
Lower School Division
Pingry’s Lower School Multicultural Team facilitates campus-wide diversity activities, which are tailored to the developmental maturity of each grade. Students in grades K-5 also dig into cultural competency work through the Decisions class which covers topics related to diversity, identity, and cultural connection at the local and global level. These lessons are designed to help students develop skills for engaging in conversations around identity, equity, and inclusion by introducing vocabulary related to social identifiers (e.g. gender identity, race, religion, ethnicity, ability, sexual orientation, etc.).
Middle School Division
The Middle School advisory program incorporates conversations about identity development, familiarizes students with common cultural identifiers, and building a positive self image. Our Middle School Multicultural Team facilitates activities that allow for a more intentional and specific focus for conversations about identity. 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. In addition, a cultural competency curriculum is integrated into advisory beginning in Grade 6.
Upper School Division
Pingry’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) Department includes Multicultural Team Coordinators, Affinity Group Facilitators, and dedicated DEIB roles. Altogether, this team is made up of approximately 40 faculty and staff members who are deliberate and intentional in their efforts to guide the Pingry community in achieving the goals outlined in the School's Mission Statement of Diversity and Inclusion. At Pingry, this work is not optional. The acquisition of cultural competency skills is required of all.
Programming that promotes cultural competency for students within the Pingry community is developed and implemented through the leadership of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and BelongingDepartment in partnership with the Multicultural Team Coordinators at the Lower and Middle Schools. Upper School programming is led by the DEIB Department. The goal in developing training and other programming is to foster an open and inclusive environment for students, parents, and caregivers.
In the Upper and Middle Schools, a team of Affinity Group leaders facilitates discussion-based curriculum for students in Grades 6-8 and 9-12.
In partnership, Pingry’s Head of School and the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and BelongingDepartment oversee the systematic and organized approach to increased cultural competency within the K-12 school community.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leadership
The DEI Leadership Team coordinates K-12 programs and activities, and serves as a resource and support to students, families, faculty, and staff.
- Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Leadership Team
- Board of Trustees Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Committee (chartered in 2021)
- Antiracism Task Force
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Leadership Team
Board of Trustees Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Committee (chartered in 2021)
Through continuous self-reflection and an orientation toward learning about current best practices in DEI, the Board of Trustees DEI Committee educates Board members and acts as a resource for other Board committees to ensure they adopt best practices and policies. The primary function of the DEI Committee is to partner with the Head of School to realize the aspirational goals of Pingry to become a school that engages in DEI best practices, including actively opposing racism and other forms of bias in all their manifestations. In addition:
The Committee ensures that DEI is a strategic and institutional priority.
The Committee and Director of DEI design and regularly review a DEI dashboard to provide data to the Head of School and Board of Trustees around effectiveness of the school’s DEI programming.
The Committee meets a minimum of six times per year.
Committee Members Include:
- Mr. Donald C. Mullins, Jr. P '15, '20 - Chair
- Lori Halivopoulos ’78, P ’23 - Vice Chair
- Betty Galvan P '25, '29, '31
- Pingry Board of Trustees Chair Ian Shrank '71
- Janice Beckman P '15, '19, '19
- Jeff Edwards ’78, P ’12 ’14, ’18
- Lisa Billington P '20
- Maggie O'Toole '05
- Denise Grant P '23
- Michael Nitabach '84
- Kevin Eng P '24, 26
- Carolyn (Cookie) Mason P '21, 24
- Melissa Moriarty '87, P '23
- Kevin Schmidt '98,
Antiracism Task Force
Created in 2020, Pingry's Antiracism Task Force (ARTF) is committed to identifying and eradicating all forms of racism and its legacy and dismantling racial hierarchies that exist at Pingry. With a focus on cultivating mindsets that question and challenge systemic racism, the ARTF works to reduce racial bias within the community.
- Brad Poprik P ’24, ’24 (he/him/his)
- Emily Glatter (she/her/hers/Ms.)
- Frank Morano ’97 (he/him/his/Mr.)
- Gilberto Olvera P ’29 — Co-Chair (he/him/his/Mr.)
- Jeff Cohen P ’21, ’24 (he/him/his)
- Julia Dunbar — Co-Chair (she/her/hers/Ms.)
- Kat Andersen ’21
- Keara Hailey Gordon (she/her/hers/Mrs.)
- Lindsay Holmes-Glogower ’99, P ’33 (she/her/hers)
- Maggie O'Toole ’05 (she/her/hers/Ms.)
- Marcus Alston P ’21 (he/him/his)
- Margaret Kelleher ’01 (she/her/hers)
- Nitin Bhat P ’20, ’23, ’29 (he/him/his/Mr.)
- Ore Shote ’21
- Osa Fasehun ’14 (he/him/his)
- Weiwei Yu P ’26 (she/her/hers)
DEIB Progress Report
The purpose of the DEI Progress Report is to maintain an ongoing accounting of the school's DEI initiatives, including the hiring and retention of faculty and staff, student enrollment and admission, curriculum, and professional development. See how the School is doing.
The purpose of the DEIB Progress Report is to maintain an ongoing accounting of the school's DEIB initiatives, including the hiring and retention of faculty and staff, student enrollment and admission, curriculum, and professional development. See how the School is doing and/or take a look at past communications below.
Our DEIB Commitments
→ We are committed to sustaining a welcoming, inclusive, and supportive environment for both the children and families in our community.
→ We expect intellectual flexibility and agility, creativity, teamwork, comfort with complexity and ambiguity, experience with diversity, and, above all, character and honor among not just our students, but our faculty, staff, and members of our leadership team as well as our Board of Trustees.
→ We believe intellectual engagement occurs most effectively in a multicultural environment.
→ We value and celebrate a broad definition of diversity that includes the social identifiers outlined by NAIS.
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) education is a critical component in Pingry's vision of "preparing students to be global citizens and leaders in the 21st century." DEIB work must be embedded in everything we do. This work belongs to all of us, and, as we aspire to be an anti-racist school community, we must work with all of our stakeholders to achieve our goals.
—Gilberto Olvera P '29, Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging
Countries represented in the Pingry Community