Professional Community Devotes In-Service Day to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Symposium

St. Margaret’s professional community dedicated an in-service day on Tuesday to immersing in diversity, equity and inclusion professional development, which included the formal launching of affinity groups, insights from panels, and workshops around culturally responsive teaching, concurrent learning and classroom ideas for teaching identity, diversity, justice and action.

The symposium was organized by St. Margaret’s 52-member Equity Team, led by Director of Equity and Inclusion Victor Cota. The symposium had three main objectives:
  • To connect with one another through dialogue centered on growing as good-ish people (a term used by PTF Parent Up speaker Dolly Chugh).
  • To continue building mindsets and skillsets that move the professional community and the St. Margaret’s community from DEI ally to practitioner.
  • To become an increasingly antiracist institution.
The symposium featured opening remarks by Mr. Cota and Head of School Will Moseley, followed by three different sessions self-selected by members of the professional community.

“The DEI Symposium was an engaging and meaningful learning experience that was nurtured through thoughtful, safe spaces to share lived experiences, ask questions, report current efforts, listen with open hearts and a growth mindset, and take time for reflection. I am very proud of the work our school community is doing together to move diversity, equity and inclusion forward, and as it has been the case for many years, it continues to be a school-wide goal this year with our commitment to become an increasingly antiracist institution,” Mr. Moseley said.

“The foundation from which this work flows is our Episcopal identity, our mission and our core values. This work is a part of our DNA. It is who we are, and it is the most impactful work we will do together. I offer my sincere gratitude to Victor Cota for his tremendous leadership, and the members of the Equity Team and symposium session leaders for their hard work and planning in order to make this extraordinary day possible for our professional community.’  

Symposium offerings included four affinity group spaces. Affinity groups provide a safe and brave space to share and affirm common experiences, including joys and challenges; create community; build a sense of belonging; learn and grow positive feelings about one’s own identity; dialogue through best practices; and design for equity within our school and broader communities. The four affinity groups were:
  • LGBTQ+: A space for colleagues who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, and other historically marginalized gender or sexual orientation identities.
  • Women in the Workplace: A space for women to gather and discuss personal, societal, and workplace realities, joys, and challenges.
  • People of Color: A space for people of color to share both unique and common narratives around the experience of their ethnic identities.
  • White: A space for white colleagues to discuss the identity of whiteness and the realities and privileges that come along with that identity; as stated in the session, “The major difference for this affinity group is that the conversation is centered on developing a sense of self as a member of a majority group and learning concrete strategies to combat systemic injustice.”
In addition, a number of concurrent sessions were organized for professional community members to further explore DEI work in a variety of areas in a meaningful and impactful way, including: 
  • DEI and Antiracism 101
  • Inspiring Female Students to Pursue STEAM
  • The Power of Understanding Mental Health Through Artistic Expression
  • Diversity Recruitment Focus Group (Hiring)
  • The Experience of Our Black and African American Colleagues
  • How Inherently Biased Artificial Intelligence and Algorithms Affect the Way We See the World
  • Supporting Your LQBTQ+ Community Members
  • Challenging Ableism
  • Equity During COVID-19: Best Practices for Supporting Concurrent Learners
  • Culturally Responsive Teaching: What It Is and What It Isn’t
  • Early School – Grade 12 Cultural Competency Framework
After the affinity group and concurrent sessions, members of the professional community met in their teams to debrief and reflect on the day.

“I’m proud of this symposium because it provided a dedicated space for colleagues to share with each other in practical, meaningful, and collaborative ways about our diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism efforts,” Mr. Cota said. “The beautiful thing about this work at St. Margaret’s is that it is happening on a daily basis in so many spaces and in so many ways. The symposium provided the space and time for us to share with each other about successes and lessons learned, so that we can continue to grow as a collective.

“I’m proud to report that 97 percent of colleagues strongly agreed and agreed that the symposium is relevant to their roles at St. Margaret’s, was delivered in an effective manner, and will have an impact on how they carry out their roles. As well, 115 professional community members attended at least one affinity group and 94 percent left those sessions with a deeper connection and sense of belonging to the community.”

St. Margaret’s has devoted professional development toward DEI and cultural-competency work in recent years, including visits from outside experts like Yvonne Adams, Rosetta Lee and Robert Greene.  

The school will continue to build on the work done at Tuesday’s professional development, with planned steps that include continued affinity group connections, shaping student affinity spaces, attending the NAIS People of Color Conference and Student Diverstiy Leadership Conference, and follow-up sessions to continue digging into relevant topics.
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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