DEI Highlights from the Far Brook Community – 2023-24 School Year

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 School 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 included:

  • Updated the Family and Employee Handbooks to include delineated support for trans and non-binary community members
  • Provided input for an upcoming DEI Strategic Plan
  • Incorporated 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. As part of Far Brook’s Community Education Series, we welcomed participants to hear our esteemed award-winning guest speakers – author/educator Dr. Ali Michael and author/illustrator Vashti Harrison – share their insights on the importance of having conversations about race with young children and using art as a tool. After, participants gathered in the Art Studio to experience an activity that is part of Far Brook’s Lower School curriculum, led by Art Integration Specialist Rob Olazagasti.



  • Widening the Lens Conference – November 2023 (8th annual conference)
    • Far Brook was delighted to welcome 12 other NJ independent schools to campus for our 8th annual Widening the Lens Diversity Conference. This year’s topic, “Community: The Power of Empathy in Action” was beautifully represented through a day filled with collaboration and conversation.
    • 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

  • Dr. Sasso (December 2023)
    Dr. Del Sasso, PsyD, of RISE Psychological Services is a non-binary, queer, clinical psychologist, specializing in gender diversity throughout the lifespan. They spoke about gender expansiveness to our adult community via zoom.
  • MLK Day of Service (January 2024)
    On the Sunday before MLK Day, the Far Brook community gathered to celebrate Martin Luther King’s vision of the “beloved community” through a dedicated Day of Service. In the art studio, teacher Rob guided students and adults in making fabric art that will later be transformed into a quilt. We assembled over 250 cold packs that will be distributed to people experiencing homelessness through the organization @bridges_outreach. Junior High students read stories about MLK and what he stood for to our younger students in the Lower School Music Room. The afternoon wrapped up with singing in our music room.


  • Parent Affinity and Community Ally Group Launch (February 2024)
    This is a first step to expanding the affinity and ally group 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.
  • Story Slam! (March 2024)
    Far Brook adults gathered for an inspiring evening at our fifth annual Story Slam event! Parents and faculty shared original personal stories responding to this year’s theme “What I Know For Sure.” The format, modeled after “The Moth” radio hour, created a warm and intimate atmosphere. This meaningful community experience evoked the power of storytelling to foster human connection. Thank you to everyone who shared their stories and to those who came to listen and support.


  • Fireside Chat with Jodie Patterson (May 2024)
    Jodie Patterson is a social activist, entrepreneur, and author. She is the mother of two gender non-conforming children and will share about her memoir, The Bold World. Jodie will be our keynote speaker for Widening the Lens in November 2024.

Heritage Morning Meetings

Our time together in Morning Meeting offers many opportunities to learn, be inspired, and share our stories with one another.  Designated Heritage Morning Meetings have been set aside to celebrate the broad range of cultures and identities in our community.  Many, but not all Heritage Morning Meetings are aligned with the Library of Congress recognition months created to celebrate the histories and contributions of historically marginalized identities. We encourage our families’ participation in the form of photos, videos, stories, music, and other elements that will help us to authentically honor, affirm, and celebrate our beautifully diverse community. Heritage Morning Meeting celebrations for 2023-24 include:

  • Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept-Oct)
  • National Coming Out/Calling In Day (Oct)
  • Native American Heritage Month (Nov)
  • LGBTQ History Month (Nov)
  • Diwali (Nov)
  • Lunar New year (Feb)
  • Black History Month (Feb)
  • Women’s History Month (Mar)
  • Eid-al-Fitr (Apr)
  • Arab American History Month (Apr)
  • Jewish American History Month (May)
  • Asian American Pacific Islander Month (May)
  • Pride (Jun)
  • Caribbean American Heritage Month (Jun)

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

  • 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. 

    GLSEN Day of Silence – April 2024

    Classroom Initiatives

    Each grade is incorporating the four social justice pillars – identity, diversity, justice, and action – into their curriculum in age-appropriate ways, from Nursery 4s mixing paints to match their own skin tone in creating their self portraits, to the Junior High’s biannual Social Justice Trip to Atlanta, Selma, and Montgomery.