Dear Sheridan Families,
On Monday night, I met with a group of parents who wanted to share concerns and learn more about Sheridan’s hiring practices related to hiring diverse teachers. The discussion ranged from the importance of diverse role models for all children as they develop their ideas about leadership, power and where they might fit into society to what parents can do to support Sheridan’s Diversity Vision.
We are so grateful for all of our professional, caring, and hard-working teachers at Sheridan. The work we are doing engages our children to love learning, to become strong, empathetic leaders and to be prepared for wherever their journey takes them.
At the same time, we know that our children benefit from seeing themselves reflected in the adult community and from having a wide range of people as role models. Unfortunately, independent schools historically have struggled to attract a diverse faculty. Our Lower School Head Stephanie Folarin is conducting research and gathering statistics on teachers of color in independent schools, and we will be using these findings to determine what Sheridan can do differently to realize our vision for a diverse faculty and serve as a model for schools in our area.
In the meantime, steps we have taken and will continue to take to increase diversity in our hiring pool include:
- Partnership with Howard University. We are thrilled to have recently forged a partnership with Howard University that is similar to the one we have with Catholic University. Next year, the Howard School of Education will send practicum and student-teaching students to Sheridan to learn from our teachers. We have also been invited to their job fair to recruit new teachers.
- Connections to Teach for America. We are making connections with Teach for America to identify and recruit diverse teaching applicants.
- Build on CASA. We know that the best way to get diverse teachers is to recruit, so we have been talking with great CASA teachers who teach in public school during the school year about teaching at Sheridan next year. For those who opt not to join Sheridan, we are encouraging them to keep us in mind as they plan their career path.
- Using our networks. We are working our networks to spread the word about our positions, including through the Administrators of Color in the DMV group.
- Diversity recruiting sites and fairs. We post all jobs on diversity sites and attend job fairs designed to attract diverse candidates.
- Inclusion of an esteemed diversity educator on the Board of Trustees. We recruited Rodney Glasgow to serve on our Board. Rodney is well-known across the United States in the independent school community as a diversity educator and leader. Having him on our Board is a signal to diverse teachers that we are a good place to work. His network is vast, and he can help us recruit.
- Substitute lists. We are seeking diversity for our substitute lists.
- Workplace practices. We are working to find ways of supporting a diverse workforce including opportunities to attend the People of Color Conference, creating affinity spaces, supporting social justice teaching, supporting curriculum work to teach to passion, and diversifying the community. As part of the implementation of our strategic planning committee, we have created a Workplace Satisfaction Committee to ensure that Sheridan is a joyful place to work for all of our employees.
- Social justice professional development. We have incorporated social justice learning for all employees of the school, including requiring every employee to participate in one of our six-session trainings on social justice, sending employees to the White Privilege Conference, working with experts in the field, and supporting the faculty SEED group.
- Presentations and professional writing. We have encouraged our teachers to write about and present the work they are doing around diversity and equity for educational journals and conferences.
- Trustee education. Our Board of Trustees regularly engages in diversity-related education and explores the vital role of diversity in our strategic vision.
- Parent education. As we raise children who are experiencing an education that is often much different than our own, we provide numerous opportunities for parent support and education, including SEED, the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee (DEIC), parent education events and affinity groups.
In our meeting on Monday evening, we brainstormed more ways in which the school and the parent community can diversify the faculty. Some of these ideas included:
- Utilizing the vast talents and resources of the parent community to teach lessons that align with curriculum in the classroom
- Sharing job announcements with parents in order to tap into the rich resources within the networks of the parent community.
- Publicizing the diversity on the administrative team, as that is rare in independent schools
- Continued and regular communication to parents and to the greater community about the great work we are doing in social justice education
- Fostering relationships with all-male colleges to increase the number of male teachers
As the traditional hiring season begins, we are grateful that Sheridan has such a high faculty retention rate. I welcome any support or ideas as we work together, in partnership, to make Sheridan a model school for all children. At the end of the meeting, everyone agreed with the parent who said, “Sheridan is such an amazing school, this would be like icing on the cake.”