Eight action steps

The Board of Trustees’ plan for sustaining momentum and setting a vision for its mission-based objectives of equity, inclusion, and a diverse community

The Board of Trustees’ plan for sustaining momentum and setting a vision for its mission-based objectives of equity, inclusion, and a diverse community
During the 2013-2014 school year, the Board of Trustees reviewed the findings from the Community Diversity Assessment, and approved these eight action steps:

Address the financial barriers that impact families’ ability to benefit from all of Gordon’s extracurricular programs
Parent responses to the survey revealed concerns about inconsistencies in the fee structure of Gordon’s after school programs and the impact that has on students’ experiences. Gordon will perform a comprehensive study of the current structure, and those of peer schools, and create a timetable to enhance access for all students. 

Increase the number of African-American and Latino families at Gordon
Parent and student responses indicated this need, echoed by Gordon’s research into regional census data and trends in the independent school community. The next steps in this effort will begin immediately, including soliciting feedback from families currently at Gordon and implementing strategic marketing efforts. 

Create an ongoing adult education program highlighting equity, inclusion and multicultural education
The parent survey called for a continuation of Gordon’s successful parent forums. By opening these to families beyond Gordon, these events can support the outreach efforts of the school. Two programs are scheduled for this academic year: one focused on theater education and one, co-sponsored by Brown University, on the impact of race on education and broader society. 

Strengthen the social curriculum in classrooms
A survey of seventh and eighth grade students indicated the need to strengthen the existing social curriculum. While maintaining the Open Circle curriculum, Gordon will further invest in the Responsive Classroom curriculum for Kindergarten to fourth grade, while strengthening the social curriculum in Middle School. Faculty professional development in these areas has already been initiated for September 2014. 

Reshape existing structures for parent leadership
The assessment revealed that further work is necessary to integrate all families into the life of the school. Two main arteries that fuel parent leadership have already received attention; the Admission Office’s mentoring program has been refined, and the GCA’s grade representative program has been reorganized, with improvements to be implemented this year.

Establish a pattern for schoolwide events that affirm the diversity of Gordon’s families
Many parents cited schoolwide events like the annual Carnival, 2004’s Communitas, and the 2010 Centennial Weekend as high points in their families’ experiences at Gordon. Gordon will develop a three-year calendar for events actively designed to increase families’ participation in the life of the school. 

Sustain current and historic intentions for the student demographic 
Careful work has led to the student demographic currently at Gordon. From its inception as the only coeducational independent school in Rhode Island, Gordon has emphasized the role that the composition of the student body plays in what a child ultimately learns in school. Over the last twenty years, the increasingly racially diverse student body has been a valuable part of the Gordon experience. Board-level strategic action will continue to ensure that the school’s commitments to coeducation and racial diversity are sustained. 

Create a ten-year vision that advances Gordon’s core mission 
Gordon’s twenty years of work on racial diversity and fourteen years of focused professional development on the tenets of multicultural practice have demonstrated that real progress is made when concrete goals are specified and appropriate resources are allocated. As the Board looks ahead, there is a strong desire for new long-range plan with a ten year horizon that defines a fully-realized vision for an independent school committed to equity, inclusion and multicultural education.

Community Diversity AssessmentOver the course of the 2012-2013 school year, the Diversity Committee of the Board of Trustees conducted a schoolwide Community Diversity Assessment.
Members of the entire community—parents, trustees, faculty and staff, and Middle School students—had opportunities to participate through focus groups and online surveys. 
Under the guidance of Eileen Sweeney Craddock, Diversity Committee chair, and Kim Ridley, Assistant Head for Faculty Professional Growth and Multicultural Practice, consultant Susan Saxon led the data collection and analysis and compiled the results. Complete sets of the data are available in the Joukowsky Family Library.
The findings were presented to parents, staff and faculty at a series of forums, and formed the basis for the eight action steps approved by the Board of Trustees in June.
Major findings included:
The majority of parent respondents (90%) felt connected to the Gordon community and were satisfied with their children’s academic (93%) and social experiences (94%).
73% of parents surveyed reported the institutional commitment to diversity was a significant factor in attracting them to Gordon.
82% reported their experiences at Gordon have strengthened their commitment to diversity, inclusion, and multicultural education.
While many respondents expressed appreciation for Gordon’s efforts in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion, and multicultural education, nearly 20% of respondents said that Gordon is not racially diverse and expressed desire for improvement in this area. Many respondents among this subset identified a lack of racial diversity specifically with respect to African American and Latino families.
A lack of socioeconomic diversity and awareness across the Gordon community was a concern for approximately 35% of the parent participants. Many respondents expressed the view that Gordon is already addressing racial diversity, and wished for expansion of current initiatives to also include socioeconomics.
Efforts to address socioeconomic diversity, and improving parent communication and education, topped the list of suggestions for improvement.