DEI & Cultural Competency

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are integral components of everyday life at St. Margaret’s. Our mission, core values, and DEI work are rooted in our Episcopal identity, which calls us to seek and serve God in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself. Read more about our DEI philosophy here. 

Cultural competency represents the skillset component of DEI work.  When we consciously work toward our own cultural competency, we are more equipped to authentically nurture equitable and inclusive communities, and these are Core Values of St. Margaret's. Cultural competency is possessing the understandings, perspectives and skills needed to recognize and respect diversity, and to effectively communicate, interact and develop meaningful relationships with each other across our differences, within our school community and in the world beyond St. Margaret’s. 

We also embrace diversity as an individual and community strength to be treasured and celebrated. An inclusive community is highly creativity, healthy, innovative and productive. 

We are nurturing our students' growth and well-being today and preparing them for college and the rest of their lives. Cultural competency will serve them well as they join and contribute positively to their future communities and institutions--where they can bring people together through an authentic appreciation for difference, shared understanding and purposeful connection.  

DEI and Cultural Competency Skills

Cultural competency is a lifelong journey and commitment, and begins with self-awareness and reflection. We each have individual identities to explore and share, and we each belong to communities with others who have their own beautiful identities. Developing understanding of oneself and empathy for others are crucial steps toward cultural competency development.
Inclusive social and communication skills are also paramount to cultural competency and allow us to truly value, respect and learn from one another. They include listening to understand rather than listening to respond, speaking thoughtfully and with intentionality, managing the intent and impact of our words and actions and the ability to advocate for others.
Finally, recognizing broader systemic inequities allows our students to understand how their own identities interact with the world around them and provides insights to our larger commitment to inclusivity, equity and justice.

DEI and Cultural Competency In Action at St. Margaret’s

Read 2021-2022 school year DEI priorities here focused on health and well-being, cultural competency and our communities. 
  • We build cultural competency skills in all Tartans. Examples include: adoption of Learning for Justice’s Social Justice Standards from Early Childhood School through Grade 12 to guide our students’ cultural competency development; a service learning program that incorporates systems-level learning and experiential experiences in our local community; the creation of student-led affinity groups as spaces for students to connect with each other, celebrate their identities, and collaborate on shared experiences.
  • We guide and work toward institutional DEI goals in part through a collective, collaborative Equity Team comprised of more than 30 professional community members from throughout the school and who are committed to equity work and represent our diverse community.
  • We engage in culturally responsive teaching, a pedagogical approach to understanding the self as instructor and meeting the needs of a classroom of diverse learners. An example: members of our professional community’s Equity Team have committed to year-long inquiries to further develop their pedagogy as culturally responsive teachers.
  • We uplift and celebrate our diverse student, family, and local communities. An example: we incorporate cultural celebrations into the school life at all four division levels, in order to elevate the range of experiences represented at St. Margaret’s.
  • We partner with national DEI thought leaders, like Yvonne Adams, Rosetta Lee, Steven Jones, Robert Greene, who work in workshops and conversations directly with students and provide professional development for faculty, staff, trustees and parents. 
  • We support and nurture student voice and leadership through the Tartan Inclusion and Diversity Education (TIDE) student leadership group in the Upper School, which leads school-wide activities and forums for students and adults.
  • We prioritize DEI professional development. An example: We host professional community in-service days devoted to DEI conversations and work, led by the Equity Team. Annually faculty, staff and trustees attend DEI conferences like 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.
  • We engage our alumni in the conversation, listening to their lived experience as students and their preparation for life beyond St. Margaret’s to inform and reflect on areas of improvement and continually advance our efforts.
  • We are committed to diversity in recruitment and hiring practices. We aim for a professional community that acts as both mirrors and windows for our students—mirrors to see themselves represented and windows to learn about other backgrounds. 
  • We ask prospective students and families to share their thoughts on the importance of equity and inclusion within a school community in the admission application process. 
  • We adopt affinity groups in response to community needs as safe spaces where individuals who identify as members of a group can gather to form community, develop a sense of belonging, celebrate identity, and troubleshoot the everyday challenges they face.
  • We will continue our institutional commitment to socioeconomic diversity. An example: Annually we award more than $4 million in need-based financial aid to students and families. 
  • We will continue to engage in authentic partnerships with our local community. An example: St. Margaret’s hosts two programs, Special Camp and Breakthrough San Juan Capistrano, and both serve as opportunities to authentically meet community needs.

DEI & Cultural Competency News

List of 5 news stories.

An independent preschool through grade 12 college-preparatory day school in Orange County, California
St. Margaret's Episcopal School does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, color, religion, sexual orientation or national and ethnic origin in the administration of its educational, admission, financial aid, hiring and athletic policies or in other school-administered programs.
St. Margaret’s Episcopal School
31641 La Novia Avenue
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
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