Founded as a progressive school, social justice has been a core value at Putney since its founding in 1935. Putney is committed to building an inclusive community that respects and affirms each of its members, honoring their diversity of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, and socioeconomic status. We continue to build an educational program that recognizes and values the many peoples and perspectives of our community and the world. We realize that conflicts may arise in the creation of such a community, but we see these possible conflicts as opportunities for growth, for open and honest communication, and for learning. Through our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion The Putney School community prepares students for the challenges and choices they will face as citizens of the world.
We seek to ensure that all aspects of student school life — including admissions, curriculum, residential life, evening arts, and athletics reflect our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and these will be diligently assessed and actively supported.
We recognize that our school and students exist in an ever-changing world, and that our understanding of, and support for, diversity, equity, and inclusion will grow and evolve.
All faculty and staff are working to understand what it means to commit to being anti-racist, specifically about anti-Blackness, and we recognize that we must do more as an institution.
This is a living document. Updates are planned quarterly. — July 16, 2020
Student and Student Diversity Committee Work
- Student Orientation: building common language and understandings
- Starting "the work" with all students
- BIPOC student meetings/gatherings
- Learning to be anti-racist in thoughts and action for white students
- 11th Grade American Studies-Course Description
Faculty & Staff
- Faculty and staff participated in summer DEI workgroups. The groups have decided to continue throughout the year.
- Faculty workshops have included:
- Creation of faculty working and learning groups:
- BIPOC Faculty and Staff affinity meeting
- Anit-Racist White Educator Learning Group
On Campus Events
- Speaker: Arshay Cooper, author, A Most Beautiful Thing
- Hakeem Rahim, speaker, educator & advocate committed to creating communities of wellness, joy & acceptance.
Upcoming Events, Programming & Work for Fall 2020
- NAIS Climate Survey (scheduled for early November)
- Families of BIPOC families Zoom session
- Staff & Adjunct training
- Film series
- Dialogue evenings
- School audit
Board and Strategic Plan DEI Goals
In 2026, Putney will be a diverse community in which cultural, language, and ethnic distinctions will be cultivated and celebrated. The school culture will be one of curiosity, contemplation, engagement and dialogue, sending out graduates who can work collaboratively across race, class and cultural divides.
Diversity and Cultural Fluency
We will continue to work on cultural integration and social justice education on campus. We will need sufficient off-campus opportunities for students to meet the new graduation requirements in cross-cultural competency.
Board of Trustees:
- Add to the board position descriptions trustee responsibility for networking to support Diversity and Equity on campus.
- Map diversity and cultural fluency as they exist in our curriculum and campus culture
- Create systems for conflict resolution based on restorative justice approaches to conflict
- Develop off-campus cross cultural opportunities for all students
- Develop a homestay program for international students with strong family engagement
- Re-revamp DEI mission statement to explicitly include anti-racism
- Write set of anti-racist expectations/attitudes for prospective board members to commit to before joining
- Incorporate anti-racist language in board functioning and documents
- Seek out and interrogate/fix exclusive and non transparent systems within board functioning
- Prospect for future BIPOC board members
- Act as ambassadors for the school
- Create a coalition of alumni and parents to support the school in DEI efforts
Done since 2018:
- Facilitated workshop on diversity and inclusion for alumni weekend
- Explicitly prioritized Black American experience in DEI efforts (universal design principles)
- Co-created #BLM statement for school
- Pushed for DEI Director position
- Presentation for board on unspoken norms
- Presentation for board on equity vs. equality
- Revamp of DEI mission statement
- Changed name from from "Diversity Committee" to "Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee"
Next steps (or in process):
- Organize ongoing Alum PoC Public Forum/meeting (as affinity spaces and some meetings with an administrative team)
- Antiracist book club for board members
- Examine financial policies (where admissions and development $$ is spent) for alignment for DEI mission statement
- Create Alum of Color/Student of Color connection program
- White Supremacy workshop for board
- Advocate for regular update on Putney doings for class secretaries and agents, especially on antiracism, inclusion, and calls for board membership
Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
- Assess school culture, students, and adults
- Work with Dean of Faculty on DEI professional development
- Work with Dean of Students on student programming
- Work with teachers and department heads on curriculum development
- Run student Leader Workshops: Fitting In vs. Belonging
- Support students speaking at the Brattleboro Youth Climate about the intersection of Climate Justice and Racial Justice
- Road Trip with BIPOC Students visiting colleges in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York
- Support Student-led discussions/affinity spaces on micro (macro) aggressions
- Organize student DEI learning, such as Social Justice Leadership Institute at Phillips Exeter
- Organize MLK 2020 Workshop Offerings-34 workshops (Faculty and Student Developed)
- Launch Civil Disagreement sessions
- NAIS AIM Survey and DEI audit: A Report to the Putney Community 2020-2021. The audit will include information and updates on the following (sample topics): Recommendations; discipline and bias; diversity and hiring; affinity groups; residential program; curriculum and program; infrastructure; implicit bias
- Organize ongoing Public Forum /Meeting for families of BIPOC students
- Develop a “reporting” protocol for microaggressions that includes students, faculty, and staff access
- Require annual professional development for faculty and staff on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Require annual zoom updates from Development/Alumni office for Class Agents and secretaries on DEI efforts and progress as well as efforts and progress in other Putney priorities (environmental activism, socially responsible investing, involvement in the local community and world community, speaking truth to power, amplifying repressed voices, etc).
- Continue to explore and work on the challenges to support and retain faculty of color
- Name the barriers to access to Putney and explore ways to break down barriers to Putney specifically to include student applicants from currently underrepresented communities
- Create an Alumni Equity and Inclusion Engagement Committee to be transparent about the work that is happening on campus and help inform the critical work.
- Supporting further professional development for faculty as teachers, advisers, house parents, and coaches to strengthen their work with and support students of color.
- Continue to identify, create, and support affinity spaces for students, alumni and families.
Student Diversity Committee
- To facilitate an education about intersectionality in order to maintain and form an inclusive and safe environment at Putney
- To support the various identities on and around campus within and outside of race, including but not limited to: LGBTQ+ community, religion, spirituality, neurodivergence, disability and more
- Encourage respectful disagreement and conversation amongst students and faculty alike for the betterment of ourselves and the community
- Help dismantle -isms on and off of the hill
- To be a resource that the community can reach out to for better understanding
- Work closely with the Director of Equity and Inclusion to access and address issues of diversity at Putney, and organize events accordingly
- Coordinate and run bi-weekly affinity meetings for different identities such as students of color, Spectrum, and International students
- Plan, prepare and run multiple all school events
- Hold all-school meetings on social issues. Additionally working in tandem with a variety of student leadership groups, such as: Heads of School, Spectrum, International Ambassadors, and Sustainability, in order to host collaborative meetings
- Make presentations in assembly about important social issues, current events, or anything important that the community should know.
- Run the Putney Justice Instagram account.
- Students participated in the Social Justice Leadership Institute at Phillips Exeter
- MLK 2020 ( A Day Spent in Community- Learning, Stretching and Doing)
- AISNE Diversity, Equity & Inclusion High- School Virtual Gathering
- Organize MLK 2020 Workshop Offerings-34 workshops (Faculty and Student Developed)
- Student-led discussions/affinity spaces on micro (macro) aggressions
The Putney Core outlines academic objectives for a student’s years at Putney. There are 7 throughlines, defining knowledge and skills that are essential across disciplines. The first throughline is:
Ethical, Cultural & Social Justice Perspectives: Understands the ethical implications of questions raised in each discipline. Understands that all fields may be viewed through differing cultural lenses, and appreciates the value of other perspectives. Understands the complexities of social justice. (RUBRIC)
Issues of social justice and race are taught across the curriculum, with particular emphasis in these classes:
- Humans in the Natural World (9th grade integrated curriculum)
- Social Contracts (10th grade history)
- American Studies(11th grade Humanities)
- Financial Literacy and Realities in all Math Courses
- Say What You Mean (writing)
- Feminist Perspectives (elective)
- World Language Courses
Recent Project Weeks groups include:
- Facing Whiteness
- Stamped from the Beginning
- Border Links
- Social Constructs and History of Gender
- AISNE Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
- Teaching While White Conference
- Diversity and Inclusion in Vermont Libraries
- NAIS People of Color Conference
- Beacon Academy Symposium on Race and Class
- Social Justice Mediation
- Examining Equity Practices in Enrollment: Exploring Implicit Bias
- Summer Working Groups for DEI
Information on the Diversity of Students and Adults on Campus
Resident faculty members and dorm heads who identify as people of color: 8
We are eager for Putney alumni and families to share their wisdom as we do this work. Thoughts and ideas will be shared with Emily Jones, Head of School, Lisa Muñoz, DEI Director, and Nkomo Morris ’94, chair of the trustee DEI committee.