In addition to remembering September 11, 2001, this year's speakers offered their perspectives on uncertainty, trust, integrity in the classroom, and the importance of accuracy.
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
Mission Statement of Diversity, Equity, 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 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 People of Color Conference, the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference, and the White Privilege Conference.
- Affinity Groups
- Student Diversity Leadership Committee
- Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network (GSA)
- 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 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 the eight 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.
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 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 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, Latinx/Hispanic-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.
Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network (GSA) 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. Below are a sampling of diversity and inclusion-related assemblies hosted on our campuses.
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.
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:
Samantha King, MSW, MEd, LSW, Education Coordinator and Intake Specialist at the Gender and Sexuality Development Clinic at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, raises awareness of gender identity and works to improve gender inclusivity in the classroom.
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 recognizes and seeks to have conversations about many cultural identifiers:
socioeconomic status (class)
beliefs (political, social, religious)
These cultural identifiers are informally introduced in Grades K-4, and formally introduced beginning in Grade 5.
We are intentional about the principles that guide interpersonal interaction, understanding that conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion are sometimes difficult. In order to foster an environment in which all voices are lifted, we have agreed upon the following community norms:
- Speak from The "I" Perspective
- Consider Your Air Time
- Expect and Accept Lack of Closure
- The Learning Leaves and the Stories Stay
- Explore Discomfort
WAIT - Why Am I Talking? Why Aren’t I Talking?
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.
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, race, religion, ability, etc.).
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.
Grade 6 DEI Activities
- Race and Ethnicity Puzzle Piece Project
- Age Poetry Writing Seminar
Form I DEI Activities
- Ability Padlet Exploration
- Religion Question Quest
Form II DEI Activities
- Gender Padlet Exploration
- Sexual Orientation Padlet Exploration
- Socioeconomic Status Game Challenge
In addition, a cultural competency curriculum is integrated into advisory beginning in Grade 6.
Our Student Diversity Leadership Committee (SDLC) facilitates 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, Equity, and Inclusion Department includes a team of approximately 30 faculty 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. This 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 cultural competency skills is required of all.
Programming that promotes cultural competency for students within the Pingry community is developed and implemented by Multicultural Team Coordinators for each division—Lower, Middle, and Upper. Their goal in developing training and other programming is to foster an open and inclusive environment for students and parents.
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 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Department oversee the systematic and organized approach to increased cultural competency within the K-12 school community.
- Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Leadership Team
- Board of Trustees Diversity & Inclusion Task Force
- Administrative Team
Mr. Gilberto Olvera, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, K-12
Ms. Heather Smith P '16, Interim Lower School Assistant Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Ms. Bria Barnes, Middle School Assistant Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Ms. Alexa López, Upper School Assistant Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Ms. Taunita Stephenson, Assistant Director of Athletics and Athletics Coordinator for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Mr. Donald C. Mullins, Jr. P '15, '20
Betty Galvan P '25, '29, '31
Ian Shrank '71
Janice Beckman P '15, '19, '19
Jeff Edwards ’78, P ’12 ’14, ’18
Lisa Billington P '20
Lori Halivopoulos ’78, P ’23
Maggie O'Toole '05
Denise Grant P '23
Lori Halivopoulos ’78, P ’23
Administrative team members of the task force
Ms. Ananya Chatterji P '25, Upper School Director
Ms. Laurie Piette, Middle School Director
Dr. Thu-Nga Morris, Lower School Director
- Ms. Carter Abbott, Director of Athletics and Community Wellness, Physical Education Department Chair
- Mrs. Allison Brunhouse '00, P '31, Director of Institutional Advancement
- Mr. Brian Burkhart, Director of Technology and Curricular Initiatives, Computer Science Department Chair, English Teacher
- Ms. Ananya Chatterji P '25, Upper School Director, College Counselor, Mathematics Teacher
- Dr. Reid Cottingham, Director of Teaching and Learning
- Dr. Delvin Dinkins, Assistant Head of School–Basking Ridge Campus, English Teacher
- Mr. Tim Lear '92 P '25, '27,'30, Dean of College Counseling and Director of Student Support Services, English Teacher
- Mr. Matt Levinson, Head of School
- Ms. Thu-Nga Morris, Lower School Director
- Mr. Gilberto Olvera P ‘29, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, K-12
- Ms. Laurie Piette, Middle School Director
- Mr. Olaf Weckesser P '25, Chief Financial and Operating Officer, Financial Literacy Teacher
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) education is a critical component in Pingry's vision of "preparing students to be global citizens and leaders in the 21st century." DEI 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, and Inclusion
Countries represented in the Pingry Community