Cultural Competency

Cultural competency is possessing the understandings, perspectives and skills needed to effectively communicate and interact with others across differences, both within our school community and in the larger world.
We view diversity of culture, thought, identity and perspective as a strength to be leveraged and recognize that our students need real skills to do this. As we prepare students for college and the rest of their lives, we are committed to providing them with the skills to capitalize on diverse contexts as opportunities for learning, growth and innovation.
Today’s world is increasingly interdependent where technology allows us to connect as humans across boundaries, real and perceived, as never before. St. Margaret’s is developing cultural competency skills in our students so they can serve as leaders who bring people together through shared understanding and authentic connection.

Specific Cultural Competency Skills

Cultural competency begins with an understanding of one’s own cultural identifiers and those of others. We each have individual identities to explore and share, including race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, ability and socioeconomic. Developing understanding of oneself and empathy for others are crucial steps toward cultural competency development.
Inclusive communication skills are also paramount to cultural competency and allow us to truly value, respect and learn from one another. They include intentionally pronouncing others’ names correctly, listening to understand rather than listening to respond, and managing the intent and impact of our words and actions.
Finally, recognizing broader systemic inequities allows our students to understand how their own identities interact with the world around them and provides insights on the larger commitment to inclusivity, equity and social justice called for by our Episcopal identity.

Cultural Competency Development at St. Margaret’s

St. Margaret’s partners with national diversity and inclusivity thought leaders who provide professional development for faculty, staff, trustees and parents, and who work directly with our students themselves. This overarching expertise is then leveraged to embed cultural competency development in the classroom and student life experiences across all four divisions.
Faculty, staff and trustees also attend the annual National Association of Independent Schools People of Color Conference for further context and connection around this important work. Upper School student leaders attend the NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference and deliver informative and thought-provoking presentations to adults and students across campus.
Time and again, students are invited to reflect on who they are and how they fit into the community around them by celebrating their unique differences and the common bonds they share as Tartans. From a preschooler mixing paint colors to create her authentic skin tone in a self-portrait to an Upper Schooler researching his genealogy for a history project, from multicultural representations in the literature our students encounter at the earliest ages to participation in our signature community outreach programs Breakthrough San Juan Capistrano and Special Camp for Special Kids, St. Margaret’s students have opportunities to develop and apply the skills for understanding, appreciating and navigating difference. In this way, they are prepared for success as global citizens in the world that awaits them beyond St. Margaret’s.

List of 3 news stories.

  • SMES Develops Cultural Competency Skills with National Diversity Expert

    National diversity expert and thought leader Robert Greene of Jones Consulting spent time with parents, students and administrators during a day-long series of workshops intended to foster understanding around cultural competency.
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  • A Celebration of Culture, Heritage and Traditions

    St. Margaret’s students, faculty and staff came together for a celebration of culture, heritage and traditions during Language and Culture Day. Led by the school’s world language department and Department Chair Marta Austin, Middle and Upper School students participated in various activities supporting the inclusivity of the St. Margaret's community.
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  • Study and Conversations on Cultural Competency

    Much like math, reading and writing, St. Margaret’s educators believe that developing cultural competency in our students is essential for their futures. Last week, St. Margaret’s engaged cultural competency thought-leader Robert Greene to work with Middle and Upper School students, faculty and staff.
    Read More
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An independent preschool through grade 12 college-preparatory day school in Orange County.
St. Margaret’s Episcopal School
31641 La Novia Avenue
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675