“History matters, and here at St. Hilda’s, you care about your history.”
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
It is with passion, commitment, and humility that we introduce ourselves to you as the DEIL Team at St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s. Standing for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leadership, the DEIL team is dedicated to helping faculty foster an authentically multicultural school community for the benefit of all students and families. In line with the founding mission of Mother Ruth, the DEIL team has been in the making for the past several years, with individual members receiving ongoing practitioner training and consistently volunteering for work within the school with an explicit focus on the area of diversity, equity, inclusion, and multicultural fluency.
In our first year serving the school’s mission of fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion, DEIL is committed to:
- Collaborating with faculty to examine with them their own multicultural experiences and the impact these experiences have on their interactions with students and families
- Examining with faculty the ways in which their cultural practices, values, and beliefs impact their teaching practices, curriculum choices, and relationships with students
- Assisting faculty in crafting curriculum, lessons, and assessments through a multicultural lens
- Remaining current on best practices of multicultural institutions and helping faculty remain current on best practices of multicultural education
- Bringing together various members of the diverse community to challenge and expand their view of what equity means
- Helping the faculty continue to develop a deep understanding of cross-cultural communication and interpersonal styles, in service of positive classroom experiences for children of all identities and backgrounds
- Providing and sharing with faculty professional development opportunities and curricular resources that focus on social justice, identity, equity, and diversity
Additionally, this summer the faculty and staff took part in an all-school book read: we read Culturally Responsive Teaching & the Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students, by Zaretta Hammond. DEIL will guide faculty and staff in using this book to initiate self and group reflections, discussions, and assessments of our work as we move through the year. We encourage parents to read this book as well.
The DEIL Team
Principles of educational diversity, equity, and inclusion were at the heart of St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s mission when it was founded in 1950.
Our founder, the Rev. Mother Ruth, envisioned St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s as a school that would reflect the diversity of New York City and would unite children and families from all backgrounds to learn from one another and about one another, tearing down the walls and divisions that separate people of different cultures, creeds, and classes.
Mother Ruth learned from experience the harm done by discrimination. As a biracial woman from Harlem, she faced rejection when pursuing her religious vocation in the United States. She went north to Canada, where she became a nun and earned a degree from St. Hilda's College, University of Toronto. When she returned to New York, Mother Ruth was determined to build a school that reflected the rich diversity of its city. Enrolling children from different racial, economic, and religious backgrounds, Mother Ruth countered the exclusive tradition that defined independent schools at that time.
For nearly 70 years, St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s has endeavored to fulfill and expand Mother Ruth’s inclusive mission, which recognizes the intrinsic value that each student, teacher, and parent brings to the school community: “We believe that all creation is sacred; each member of the school community is respected as a unique individual.” Additionally, the mission states, “We strive to create an educational community that reflects unity in diversity: a unity of purpose and shared values among a population diverse in race, culture, and religious beliefs.”
St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s school has remained committed to enrolling a diverse community and equitably serving its students, families, and faculty through its academic and co-curricular programs, and we have expanded upon our founder’s original definition of diversity to include ability, gender identity, and sexual orientation. This commitment requires us to be conscious about all the ways in which an individual constructs identity, and we joyfully embrace our vital role in helping students to feel fully themselves as they grow and develop. These efforts are integral to our curricular and co-curricular programming for students and families, as well as to our professional development activities.
My fellow trustees are deeply committed to our students and faculty—and to ensuring, as Mother Ruth intended, that access to an outstanding education should not be limited to one socio-economic class of children, or one race, creed, learning style, or family composition. They know, as she did, that the inclusive educational community here at St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s is transformative, not just for those of us who are part of it but for everyone whom we encounter. Our graduates become the kinds of leaders so sorely needed in the world today—those who work hard and play fair, who create with passion, who act with compassion, who dream, and who achieve. The Rev. Kathleen Liles
DEIL Heritage and Awareness Months
The school’s yearly calendar reflects a variety of national heritage months, feast days, and national/religious holidays to keep the deep diversity of our nation’s population at the center of our prayers and understanding. These heritage months are those set forth by the United States Library of Congress. Over the course of the year, the focus of Chapel will be to bring our students to a deeper understanding of their own lived experiences and those of others. These heritage months are in line with Mother Ruth’s mission for the school and they imbue our community's daily life by influencing the work done in our classrooms, the presentations given during chapel, and the screen imagery displayed throughout our building.