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The “Rich Cultural, Racial, and Ethnic Mosaic” That Is Notre Dame

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and the Gospels

As its mission attests, and practically from its founding, Notre Dame School of Manhattan has been graced with a beautifully diverse student population.  Students and families enjoy and benefit from the gift of diversity every day, as long-lasting friendships form Chez Nous among young people who might not otherwise have crossed paths.  Our students hail from different races, ethnicities, faith traditions, neighborhoods, and socio-economic backgrounds.  Visitors to our campus unfailingly remark on the refreshing and, sadly, elsewhere rare mix of students they encounter simply by walking our hallways and chatting informally with those they meet along the way.  Yet, as a school, we know that the fact of a diverse student population does not necessarily ensure that all students feel respected and enjoy a full sense of belonging at our school.  We have coined the term DEIG (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and the Gospel) to reflect how our identity as a Catholic school, especially, draws us to this purpose.  There is work to do, and we are engaged in that work consistently, with purpose, joy, and prayer.

Notre Dame is committed to maintaining and growing the diversity of its students, increasing the diversity of its faculty and staff, and working toward stronger awareness and action in terms of equity, belonging, and justice at our school.  We are also committed to graduating young leaders who are fully aware of the painful legacy and present realities of racial injustice and equipped to work for a more just nation and world.

List of 4 items.

  • Board of Trustees

    STARTING AT THE TOP: DEIG AND GOVERNANCE AT NOTRE DAME
    Notre Dame School’s Board of Trustees has been active and supportive of the school’s increased focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. In 2020, The board supported the school’s engagement of professional consultants on DEI initiatives. They approved the hiring of Dr. Sandra Chapman of Chap Equity Consulting to work with our faculty, students and parents. The board also supported the president’s decision to hire Martha Haakmat of Haakmat Consulting to work solely with the Board of Trustees throughout the school year. Ms. Haakmat met with the Board more than a dozen times since the 2020 and will continues to provide presentation and discussions during the 2023 - 2024 school year. During these sessions, the Board of Trustees:
    • Defined important terms in DEI work
    • Wrote and presented a Board Resolution to establish a DEIG task force for the board, which the Board voted on and passed. This new task force ensures each board committee will function with an awareness aligned with  DEIG initiatives.
    • Participated in various role-plays regarding DEIG work in the school.
    • Studied and applied the “Board Leadership and Institutional Support for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Anti-Racism,” which is a three-stage rubric
    • Worked in small groups based on committees and examined and discussed how DEI work needs to be a concern for each committee
    Our Board of Trustees has now engaged in over 24 hours of focused diversity training and strategic planning, under the guidance of Martha Haakmat, who specializes in leadership coaching and support for DEI strategic planning for schools and other organizations. Our trustees are focused on Envisioning Strategic DEI and Anti-Racism frameworks for action plans and goals for the years ahead.  Notre Dame believes the important work of DEI initiatives and real change must originate and be firmly supported at the leadership level.
  • Faculty and Staff

    ONGOING TRAINING, WORK, AND COMMITMENT
    Notre Dame has a longstanding commitment to providing diversity training for and developing awareness among its faculty and staff.  We were pleased to partner with Diversity and Inclusion Strategist Dr. Derrick Gay for a session on “The Double-Edged Sword of Diversity” in 2018.  Faculty and Staff members have also dedicated time for the Ignatian Family Teach-In each fall, which features keynote and small group sessions on the topics of racism, racial justice, and how to confront the painful legacy of racism in the Church, among other social justice topics.  For the past two years, Notre Dame faculty and staff have learned from and grown under the guidance of DEI consultant, Sandra Chapman (Dr. Chap) with sessions dedicated to microaggressions, racial anxiety, courageous conversations, stereotype threat, and anti-bias frameworks.  During the 2023 - 2024 school year, faculty and staff with meet with consultant Julie Mencher on the topic of gender equity in single-sex education.

    Notre Dame teachers know the importance of open-minded listening, engaging in meaningful dialogue with students, and being responsive and anticipatory about constructive curricular changes.  The work is ongoing and productive.  ND faculty have a special relationship with their students, based on mutual respect and responsibility.
  • Students

    STUDENT LEADERSHIP AND ENGAGEMENT
    Notre Dame students are at the heart of all we do Chez Nous, and their insights, engagement, and leadership in all of our DEIG initiatives are vital and impactful.  In early 2019, Dr. Derrick Gay presented to our entire student population on the topic of diversity and the blind spots we may have as a school community. Each year a group of ND students participate in the Ignatian Family Teach-In, which offers whole group and small break-out group sessions on a variety of social justice topics, including institutional racism, the prison pipeline, and the humanity crisis at our country’s borders.  Our student peer leadership group, Anne’s Leaders, receives regular training from  DEI consultant, Sandra Chapman (Dr. Chap) in order to facilitate student courageous conversations about identity, belonging,  microaggressions, stereotypes, and how to become an ally and foster and anti-racist atmosphere at Notre Dame.   

    Notre Dame students have been voices for change at several listening sessions held with the school’s administrative team, along with club moderators.  Curricular and policy changes have been made after these important sessions.  Students leaders have worked closely with our Arts Department Chair to produce and present the annual arts showcases, What Is Black? Our student club Union of Color, moderated by Diversity Coordinator Dashea Hickson, provides a regular forum for discussion, activism, and celebration for communities of color and ethnic affiliations within the ND community.  
  • Engagement and Support

    INDIVIDUALS AND ORGANIZATIONS LEADING THE WAY
    Diversity Coordinator, Consultants, Clubs and Committees

    Dashea Hickson:  School Counselor and Diversity Coordinator
    As the Diversity Coordinator for Notre Dame, I am committed to creating an environment where all students are seen, heard, and valued. After studying and taking coursework at Binghamton University  in Black Families, Psychology and Racism, LGBT Adolescent Development, and Youth and Social Policy, I learned how to unpack complex theoretical concepts and social issues within communities and organizations. My responsibility is to assist in the fostering of a diverse, equitable and inclusive school community. Diversity at Notre Dame School is represented in various ways: family structure, race, ethnicity, religious traditions, socio-economic backgrounds.  My goal is to guide the members of our school community into a clearer understanding that everyone has a role to play in the pursuit of equity and justice. I want to encourage and motivate our school community members to be positive and effective agents on this journey.

    Martha Haakmat:
    DEI Strategic Planning Consultant
    Ms. Haakmat works regularly with Notre Dame’s Board of Trustees to at the level of policy, procedures, and messaging regarding the schools DEIG objectives and expectations.  She guides our trustees in comprehensive and systemic DEI action planning, leveled training and assessment.

    Dr. Sandra Chapman (Dr. Chap)
    :  DEI Educator, Leader, and Facilitator
    Dr. Chap from Chap Equity works directly with our faculty, staff, and parent community to foster a deeper understanding of DEI issues.  She presents data, research, and scenarios to help us reckon with the realities of institutional racism and work toward understanding, growth, and solutions.  She helps to create a supportive and safe environment for courageous conversations about race to support our school’s DEIG initiatives and to increase the deep sense of belonging that our mission calls us to nurture and protect.

    Julie Mencher, MSW:  A nationally recognized speaker and consultant, Ms. Mencher serves as a strategic advisor to organizations on gender diversity and sexuality. She will be working with Notre Dame faculty during the 2023 - 2024 school year.

    Union of Color:
    ND Student Club moderated by Dashea Hickson
    Union of Color is a safe space that provides cultural diversity at Notre Dame with special regard to students of African descent.

    Building Bridges:
    ND Student Club moderated by Scott Vasey
    Building Bridges seeks to provide a safe, non-judgmental, and affirming space for members of the LGBTQIA+ community and its allies to come together to share experiences, observations, and concerns with each other.  The club is dedicated to building networks with clubs at other schools who share a similar mission, and working together with like-minded community organizations to keep paths of dialogue open and to stress the vital importance of unconditional compassion, acceptance, and love.

    Young Feminists:
    ND Student Club moderated by Scott Vasey
    Young Feminists Club’s mission is to provide a forum for ND students to come together to find strength in each other as they insist on their unconditional, full, and equal humanity.  The club welcomes all students and prioritizes discussion and debate, affirmation, community involvement, and efforts to shape the future so that everyone’s full and unconditional humanity is realized.