Recent DEI Initiatives from the Far Brook Community

Far Brook Board of Trustees – Diversity Committee

At the end of the 2022-23 school year, Far Brook’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to make the Diversity Committee a standing committee of the Board, reflecting the Board’s commitment to thoughtfully setting and addressing diversity, equity and inclusion priorities.

Diversity Committee is made up of Board members, several current parents and faculty/staff who meet monthly and provide a regular update at each of the scheduled Board meetings.

Trustee DEI Training

In September 2023, all Trustees spent an evening in an interactive workshop with DEI consultant Martha Haakmat, learning to:

  • build DEI knowledge and skills
  • highlight the crucial role Board Members play in building, strengthening and sustaining diverse, equitable, and inclusive school communities
  • include diversity goals as part of their annual goal setting process.

Updating Far Brook’s Diversity Statement

The Board, in its role as steward of the School’s mission and vision, is partnering with faculty and staff to review and evolve the school’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Social Justice to make sure the statement continues to reflect the breadth and depth of backgrounds and identities that are so essential to the Far Brook community. In particular, we are focused on enhancing language that speaks to supporting students and adults in their exploration and affirmation of gender identity and expression. New language has been added to our family handbook to provide clarity and guidance on the ways in which we support community members in this process.

A living document, an updated Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Social Justice is in the drafting stages and will be shared later in the 2023-24 school year.

 

Head of School Amy Ziebarth and the Leadership Team incorporate Far Brook’s diversity and inclusion objectives into their areas of responsibility including recruitment, enrollment, hiring, curriculum development, and supporting and evaluating faculty and staff. The recent addition of our Director of Human Resources and School Counselor adds capacity for processes and procedures that support the School’s objectives of equity and inclusion.

2023-2024 initiatives include:

  • Updating the Family Handbook to include delineated support for trans and non binary community members
  • Updating the Faculty Handbook
  • Providing input for the DEI Plan
  • Reviewing and developing curricula
  • Incorporating DEI objectives in our 10-year accreditation report

 

Our teachers bring their skills and creativity to the daily infusion of DEI in the classroom creating an environment that nurtures students and provides opportunities for learning from and about one another. One of the priorities of the Strength in Community capital campaign that concluded in 2022 was to raise money to enhance faculty professional development opportunities. The Board allocates resources for extensive professional development for faculty and staff which contributes to the knowledge, skills, and perspective required to teach and lead our diverse community. 

Some recent key professional development experiences:

  • POCC – National Association on Independent Schools (NAIS) People of Color Conference
    • Signature NAIS conference
    • Several thousand educators and students from across the country
    • In 2023. Far Brook sent seven faculty and staff members
    • Opportunity to hear from nationally recognized speakers and educators, to share challenges and best practices with peers from independent schools nationwide

  • NJAIS Series  – Gender Identity and Expression Ongoing 
  • Pollyanna – 9-Part Series 
  • Faculty Equity Team and Faculty GSD Team
    • These teams meet weekly to support the work of the DEC office and to lead the development and incorporation of practices that further inclusion at Far Brook

Innovative and inspiring programming featuring a broad set of perspectives to widen the Far Brook community’s understanding of DEI topics:

  • Vashti Harrison and Ali Michael (September 2023)

“Using Art to Talk to Kids About Race” with Caldecott-winner Vashti Harrison and author, educator, speaker Ali Michael.

  • Widening the Lens Conference – November 2023 (8th annual conference)
    • Participants from 12 schools
    • Keynote speaker: Award winning consultant and author of The Art of Community, Charles Vogl 
    • A special feature this year was the addition of a “Community Engagement” experience on the Friday night preceding the conference 
    • Kent Place, Montclair Kimberley academy, Morristown beard, Newark Academy, and others report that they look forward to this day of collaboration and action-planning to address shared challenges and make our schools more inclusive

  • Jacqueline Woodson (December 2023)
  • Dr. Sasso (December 2023)
  • MLK Day of Service (January 2024)
  • Story Slam! (March 2024)

Affinity and Community Ally Groups for Students, Faculty, Staff, and Parents

  • Initiated in October 2022
  • This school-wide initiative provides a framework for the ongoing affirmation of identity and experience and engagement with themes that are expressed in our guiding documents such as diversity, community, belonging, and action. 
  • Parent Affinity and Community Ally Groups expands the initiative, allowing families to have a parallel experience to that of the students and staff to get to know one another, and to celebrate Far Brook’s diversity.

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