Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
I answered, of course, that I am no critic of skins; that I teach all who come to receive my instructions, and who conduct themselves in such a manner as to promote the ends of the institution; that I never can or will give way to this inhuman and infernal prejudice, — no, not for one hour!
If I am compelled to relinquish my situation here because I cannot sell myself to the skin-aristocrats to help them in heaping contempt upon those whom God loves as well as he does you and me, — why, then so be it, so be it
Frederick William Gunn
Working Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion:
Our continuous focus on moral character development intentionally engages all members of our school in the work of creating an inclusive and equitable living and learning ecosystem. Community and citizenship are at the heart of our aspiration to both social justice and academic excellence, with individual diversity integral to the strength of that community. When we embrace difference and pursue school life with respect, equity, and compassion, we prepare our students to be engaged citizens, as described in the school’s Character Statement.
In keeping with the tenets of our founder Frederick Gunn, who was himself a prominent abolitionist and progressive educator, The Frederick Gunn School seeks to provide a pluralistic learning environment for all inclusive of (but not limited to): culture, ethnicity, gender identity or expression, national origin, learning differences, physical difference, political affiliation, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic differences.
Our current working groups are comprised of:
- A working group of senior administrators and faculty led by the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, LaDarius Drew
- Board of Trustees Task Force Chaired by Omar Slowe '97
- Current student-led affinity groups such as the Black Student Union, Gender and Sexuality Alliance, and the Asian Student Association
Excerpt from The Biography of Frederick Gunn
DEI Initiatives In Action
The Frederick Gunn School celebrated and learned about the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday, January 16, with a full day of programming, featuring presentations by Kip Bordelon and Pascale Musto, two seasoned Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging practitioners. Working in partnership since 2016, they form a unique and insightful team on matters of leadership and DEIB. As a team, they complement one another in style and enhance each other’s strengths. Both are graduates of New England boarding schools and thus love working with the independent school community.
The Frederick Gunn School Faculty will present a staged reading of Love, Loss, and What I Wore, written by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron and directed by Gunn faculty member Sarah Rose Archer. The performance will be held on Saturday, May 14, at 7 p.m. in the Tisch Family Auditorium. Students, faculty, staff and the community are welcome to attend. Admission is free with general admission seating. All theatre patrons are asked to comply with the school’s current Visitor Policy.
This year’s celebration of the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will focus on the themes of restoration, mercy and community service. In the spirit of celebrating MLK Day as a national day of service — “a day on, not a day off” — students will not have classes on January 17 but will gather in the Thomas S. Perakos Arts and Community Center for a day of programming and a service-oriented activity. On January 18 at 7 p.m., the school will welcome Reginald Dwayne Betts, author, lawyer, poet and founder of Freedom Reads, a first-of-its-kind organization working to radically transform access to literature in prison, as part of its 2021-22 Speaker Series.
On February 25, the school’s Black History Month celebration concluded with an impressive, virtual mini-concert, featuring select students from the String Ensemble, Vocal Ensemble, and Concert Jazz Band, who performed sacred and secular music interspersed with poetry to bring the theme of Black joy as expressed through the arts to life.
Students and faculty paused to reflect on the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., at School Meeting on Monday. The presentation by history teacher and Director of Diversity Equity and Inclusion LaDarius Drew was the first in a series of programs planned over the next six weeks as part of the school’s Black History Month celebration.
The 2021 Speaker Series began January 14 with an all-school presentation by Eric Ward, a longtime civil rights strategist, who spoke via Zoom about the history of anti-Semitism and its resurgence.
Two students and two faculty members representing The Gunnery attended the 2019 People of Color Conference/Student Leadership Diversity Conference sponsored by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) in Seattle in December. Marley Berano ’20 and Danny Infante ’21 were among 1,600 students from independent schools across the country who attended the sold-out Student Leadership Diversity Conference (SLDC). In addition to large group sessions, the SDLC offers students the opportunity to share their experiences in “affinity groups,” which NAIS describes as “safe and supportive spaces defined by membership in a specific racial or ethnic identity group.
Students celebrated the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. over the past week by participating in activities and discussions focused on storytelling and perspectives. These events were intended to illustrate the different lenses, or “glasses,” through which we view the world and others’ stories.
On Monday, The Gunnery joined the Washington Business Association in support of “Washington Gives,” a day of service in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The daylong event brought together local residents, business owners and non-profit organizations, who participated in service activities at various locations in Washington Depot as part of a national Day of Service commemorating the life, works and spirit of Dr. King.