How We’re Fostering a Culture of Belonging at CSG (and How You Can Join the Conversation)
Kelly Privette

Earlier this week, we updated families about progress in our diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) initiatives during an online discussion via Zoom.

Led by our Chief Equity Officer, Leisan Smith, the discussion also included updates on the Program for Young Children and the Lower School by Counselor Betsy Esser and updates on Middle and Upper School initiatives by Upper School Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Representative Serena Lett.

Ms. Smith kicked off the meeting with an update about CSG’s progress in crafting a DEIB statement, which she said will ground future work, provide language to help describe CSG, and set the tone for expectations about what it means to be a part of the CSG community.

“We’ve tried to balance both where we are and where we aspire to be,” Smith said before explaining that the statement will continue to be refined as CSG progresses in its DEIB initiatives. 

Additionally, Ms. Smith gave updates on CSG’s Anti Racism Task Force and Action Plan, including development of our hiring process. Ms. Smith now trains hiring committees in recognizing implicit and explicit bias, and she meets with every finalist candidate to gauge their ability to foster cultural competency in our community and help move our DEIB work forward.

We are also focusing on curriculum evaluation. Ms. Smith is working with a professor at The Ohio State University’s Department of Teaching and Learning to evaluate curricula with the goal of ensuring they are inclusive, socially just, and culturally relevant by implementing DEIB learning standards. Faculty will also be  evaluating curricula to ensure they present historically accurate information, support critical thinking and analytical skills, and provide opportunities for students to read texts from diverse perspectives.

Ms. Smith then turned it over to Ms. Esser, who shared how learning to build a culture of belonging starts in the PYC, as students are exposed to and learn how to talk about differences in a judgement-free way. This continues in the Lower School, where students explore inquiry-based social studies curriculum and practice the “platinum” rule: treat others the way they want to be treated (as opposed to the way you want to be treated).

Ms. Lett shared that in the Upper School, students are learning how to lead sometimes difficult conversations in our various cultural clubs and affinity spaces. She indicated that, “Students have really dived into some of those conversations.”

As the Q&A came to a close, Head of School Jennifer Ciccarelli reiterated that here at CSG, every student’s voice matters. “DEI work,” she said, “is core to a CSG education.”

Our overarching goal in all of our DEIB work is to help students feel like CSG is a place where they belong. One way we’re pursuing that goal is by emphasizing the importance of respecting names--and pronouncing them correctly--and and using the correct pronouns. This can be especially meaningful for students of color and those in the LGBTQIA+ community.

If you missed this first installment of our DEIB Parent Series, you can watch the recording here.

The next installment, scheduled for Monday, December 13 at 11:30am via Zoom, will include a continuing discussion about race, racism, and anti-racism, featuring Dr. Melissa Crum, an Equity and Diversity Practitioner and founder of the Mosaic Education Network, and Dr. Hasan Jeffries, a CSG parent and associate professor with The Ohio State University. 

A third installment on gender, gender identity, and gender expression is scheduled for 11:30am on Monday, January 10, and will feature Amanda Erickson, Director of Education & Outreach with Kaleidoscope Youth Center. 

CSG’s Diversity Statement will be shared with everyone during a Community Chat scheduled for 7:00pm Thursday, February 1. 
We hope to see you there!