This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing to use this website, you consent to our use of these cookies.

Equity & Belonging

Diversity Mission Statement

Derryfield believes that a school is strengthened by its diversity. Therefore, we are committed to building and nurturing a diverse and inclusive community with individuals from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. Working together, we strive to provide experiences both in and out of the classroom that will allow students to consider and embrace their own and others' identities and perspectives. This will empower our students on their journey to leading lives of purpose and passion.

Opportunities & Initiatives

List of 6 items.

  • In the Classroom

    Students of all backgrounds benefit from a diverse curriculum because it better prepares them to be citizens and leaders in a multicultural society.  Across Derryfield’s academic programs, from the humanities to the STEM disciplines, our teaching increasingly includes perspectives and discussions of gender, race, and other aspects of equity and belonging. “I think that if we can help kids have these opportunities where they actually get to see life from a perspective that they have no access to, it will allow them to start to be able to ask the questions that need to be asked and to engage in dialogue,” said upper school English teacher Dr. Diane Hotten-Somers.
    In the humanities, those discussions often start with students being able to see themselves in what they read and study. And with a diversity of perspectives presented in literature, they also learn to see things through the eyes of others, which is key to developing understanding and empathy. Diverse authors offer students different lenses through which to view these topics and a shared experience through which they can discuss and examine them.
    English faculty choose from a diverse library of texts to help students explore themes of race, ethnicity, identity, justice, gender norms, and belonging. World cultures courses help students explore nations and people beyond our shores, while others delve into what it means to be an American through the very different experiences of all who call this country home.
    In history, students build a foundation for civic responsibility by understanding the complexities of the past. World Justice topics range from Jim Crow America to the Holocaust. Upper School students explore the history of Asia and Europe, social upheaval, and global issues like environmental sustainability. While studying the past, students also learn how historic injustices continue to inform the world in which we live today. Service projects with new Americans living in Manchester, for example, enable our sixth and eighth graders to experience this firsthand.
    Gender parity is an ongoing priority in the School’s STEM departments where the faculty, including leadership positions, is nearly evenly divided between men and women. Teachers have also been implementing initiatives aimed at attracting more girls to STEM fields where they have been traditionally underrepresented.
    The Science Department has hosted the TechWomen Ambassadors program which invites women working in technology to Derryfield to discuss different paths to careers in STEM. Science Department Chair Mary Ann Watt has conducted a monthly “Open Circuit” forum designed to bring together girls from all grades interested in STEM. And to help inspire our students about possibilities in real-world STEM careers, a group of girls shadowed professionals at a Manchester software company for a day. 
    Preparing our students to be future leaders means teaching them to be anti-discriminatory and receptive to a diverse range of experiences and ideas. In every area of the curriculum, the faculty is addressing these issues to ensure that Derryfield graduates truly represent the Schools’ philosophy that “academic achievement without compassion and concern for others is meaningless.”
  • Student Activities & Explorations

    Asian Culture Club
    (Advisor: Dr. Gauthier)
    ASL For Everyone (Advisor: Mr. Leary)
    Equity Club (Advisors: Mrs. Shutz and Mrs. Byron)
    Gay, Lesbian, or Whatever Club (GLOW) (Advisor: Mr. Bonjorno)
    Paper Airplanes Tutoring (Advisor: Mr. Watt)
    We Deliver Periods (Advisor: Mrs.  Assetta)
    Women in STEM (Advisor: Mrs. Watt)

    Equity Club (Advisors: Mrs. Shutz and Ms. Murphy)
    Model UN (Advisors: Ms. Romilla and Mr. Slefinger)
  • Enrollment Strategies

    A commitment to equity and diversity at The Derryfield School seeks to embrace a broad swath of identities and individuality. Our founders were, and we continue to be, deeply committed to ensuring that the community is one of belonging for all students and their families. 

    For many years, Derryfield has implemented marketing plans and admission practices that sought to increase the number of qualified students of color through marketing, merit aid, and financial aid. In the last twelve years, Derryfield has increased the number of enrolled self-reporting students of color by 200%, reaching a high of 24% in fall of 2022. 

    For all students, the most significant change has been implemented through an Equitable Tuition model of financial aid. Applicants are provided a tuition rate based on their unique family’s financial profile, and this intentional shift has facilitated access to a Derryfield education for bright, motivated students in our region. This doesn’t mean that we are need-blind. As a young school with a small endowment, Derryfield is highly tuition-dependent, but the Equitable Tuition model is successful in communicating access in a more welcoming and inclusive way than the historic approach to financial aid. 

    Through collaboration between the Philanthropy & Engagement and Admission teams, Derryfield has provided a pathway for donors who seek to designate their annual gift to Equitable Tuition, and/or to Equity & Belonging, which funds new and existing equity and inclusion programs.

    With the encouragement and support of generous donors and foundations, Derryfield utilizes three endowed need-based scholarship funds to help enroll motivated students who could otherwise not afford a Derryfield education. One fund, awarded to Derryfield from the Malone Foundation, targets underserved gifted and talented students. Another, created by a Derryfield family, targets students from Manchester. The third, created by Derryfield’s Board of Trustees, allows for the tuition-free enrollment of bright, motivated students from local underserved communities.

    Finally, Derryfield’s reputation of kindness has encouraged a growing number of families led by LGBTQ+ parents to join the community, and for applicants across a spectrum of identities to feel a sense of inclusivity.
  • Multicultural Student Union

    Sarah Naje ’23 says she’s an advocate for being your true self while finding a sense of belonging in the Derryfield community. Those are the beliefs that led to her involvement in helping to launch the MSU. “These activities give us the opportunity to give everyone what they deserve: a voice and to be heard,” she said. "Getting involved in these clubs gives you a sense of awareness and different perspectives to look through on all kinds of discussion and issues as well.”
    The new Multicultural Student Union (MSU) is a student-driven initiative that grew out of spirited faculty-student discussions held over the summer on the issues of racial justice, equity, and inclusion. “Several students wanted a safe space for people of color, as well as those interested in understanding and exploring cultural diversity, to talk about issues of concern as well as to celebrate cultural diversity” said Jenny Boesch who with Laurie Byron serves as a faculty advisor to the group.
    Inspired by the strong interest shown among their peers, a core team of students dedicated part of their summer months to developing and refining ideas for the organization, which they introduced to the School during Community Meeting. Jen Pei ‘23's fantastic "This I Believe" speech prepared the ground by reflecting on her experiences growing up in a culture shaped by Disney princesses. Sarah Naje then introduced the MSU and welcomed students who had an interest in the organization.
    The new club is already off to an amazing start. The group hosts regular meetings and is planning a social media site for sharing ideas and hosting informal chat groups. MSU leaders will also be attending a virtual, weeklong conference in December hosted by the NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference. Sarah Naje and the other MSU leaders hope to be forces for change not only at Derryfield but also beyond campus and throughout the community. 
    Ms. Boesch reflected that even before the club was officially formed she was impressed by how much thought these students had already given the issues of racial justice, equity, and inclusion. “They are a passionate but thoughtful group and have understood the importance of honing their message from the beginning,” Ms. Boesch said. “Their hope is to be inclusive and celebratory of cultural diversity while at the same time having a space for honest, frank discussions.”  
    That can be a difficult balance, even for adults! But by recognizing its importance the students of the MSU are well on their way to building an organization that can be a force for advocating change and celebrating multicultural diversity on campus and wherever members of our community represent Derryfield.
  • Professional Development

    Recognizing that there is more work to be done, Derryfield’s faculty and staff have embraced an equity and inclusion training program that explores issues like implicit bias, equity and organizational change, and culturally responsive hiring. The initiative is a key part of the School’s commitment to building a truly diverse and inclusive community not only in the classroom, but in the cafeteria, on the court, and even beyond the boundaries of campus. 
    “I feel like the faculty has really been increasing their capacity to have these conversations and ask questions about how we are creating a sense of belonging,” said Director of Equity & Belonging Laura Russell. 
    Faculty groups met virtually three different times over the summer to study timely and challenging writings that offered a variety of perspectives on these issues and reflect on their own learning in the area of justice and inclusion. They held open discussions to explore ideas about how those views and philosophies might inform their teaching at Derryfield and aid their understanding of the experiences of people of color at Derryfield.
    When the school year approached, all faculty and staff kicked off the year by attending a daylong workshop led by Liza Talusan, a leader in helping organizations plan and implement strategic change in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and leadership.
    Derryfield also encouraged faculty and staff to attend conferences including the National Diversity Practitioners’ Institute, which helps educators create a framework to aid equity and belonging efforts at their institutions, and implement best practices to achieve real results. The Multicultural Educators Forum (MEF) at Fenn School also welcomed several Derryfield teachers. By coming together as a larger community of independent schools, these committed professionals can help each other learn how best to further multicultural education on a global scale. 
    Dr. Diane Hotten-Somers was just one faculty member who also attended (virtually) equity conferences hosted by ISANNE and AISNE. “These events were really great opportunities to learn about how to facilitate challenging conversations around the political moments that are upon us right now,” she said. The experience shows how valuable lessons learned by collaborating with colleagues can be brought directly back to Derryfield, where they can help build a diverse, just, and inclusive community in which everyone feels a true sense of belonging.
  • Breakthrough Manchester

    Breakthrough Manchester is housed on Derryfield's campus and is the second oldest of the 24 Breakthrough program sites in the country. Our Breakthrough students are all Manchester area residents and the program currently serves 169 students, 73% of whom identify as students of color. In 2016, we partnered with Southern New Hampshire University, in an effort to meaningfully expand this academic enrichment program beyond the middle school years, all the way through grade 12. On Derryfield’s campus, middle school students have their summer and school year educational experiences, while SNHU supports them through high school and the college enrollment process.

List of 17 news stories.

  • Matimano on Exhibit in Lyceum Gallery

    The Lyceum Gallery is currently hosting the work of fine art painter Jozimar Matimano. In his portraits in oil Matimano comments on social issues, while sharing concepts that are important to him.
    Read More
  • Teachers Attend People of Color Conference

    Elaine Loft
    Derryfield English department faculty members Laurie Byron and David Baroody recently attended the NAIS People of Color Conference (PoCC) in San Antonio, TX. More than 7,800 adults and students from around the country participated in the annual event. Ms. Byron said, “It was an amazing experience to see over 7,000 educators gathered in one space to talk about issues around equity and belonging and personally it reaffirmed for me a re-commitment to this work.”
    Read More
  • Asian Culture Club Samples Global Spices

    Elaine Loft
    Members of the Asian Culture Club and numerous culinary aficionados gathered at lunchtime on November 17 to hear Director of Global Education Brandon Gauthier expound on the history and characteristics of three spices–Sichuan peppercorns, Grains of Paradise, and Long Pepper. The attendees first gathered their own sample bags of each spice, and then settled in for enlightenment.
    Read More
  • Derryfield Welcomes Amoskeag Scholars

    Read More
  • Multicultural Potluck Celebration

    Elaine Loft
    The tables were laden with foods from nineteen countries, and music from different cultures filled the air at the April 16 potluck dinner sponsored by the Derryfield Multicultural Student Union (MSU).
    Read More
  • Equity Club Hosts Waypoint Presentation

    The Derryfield Equity Club hosted Erin Kelly, Waypoint’s Director of Homeless Youth and Young Adult Services, at a lunchtime meeting on March 10 in the Lyceum. The Equity Club strives to provide DS students with a safe and supportive place to explore and discuss various social issues. The goal of the club is to educate the members, and their peers, on inequities in the community, in order to make Derryfield–and the world–a more tolerant and inclusive place....
    Read More
  • International Women's Summit

    Elaine Loft
    Through connections with other academic programs, Derryfield students are able to participate in programs that connect them to students throughout the world who share similar interests. To celebrate International Women’s Day (March 8), Derryfield junior Madison Viger attended a virtual summit that brought together a diverse group of students to learn about various issues women and girls face on a global level....
    Read More
  • World Holocaust Remembrance Day at Derryfield

    Elaine Loft
    On a special January 24 Community Meeting, Derryfield observed World Holocaust Remembrance Day. The guest speaker was Eva Berger, the grandmother of a seventh-grade student and the daughter of Holocaust survivors.
    Read More
  • Working Towards a Beloved Community

    Elaine Loft
    On January 18, Derryfield commemorated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day during Community Meeting in a program that included music, a keynote address, and reflections from members of the Derryfield faculty....
    Read More
  • Diverse Voices in Literature

    Elaine Loft
    For the past several years, Laurie Byron (upper school English teacher) and Jodie Leen (middle school English teacher) have worked to broaden and diversify the scope of Derryfield’s literature program. This year students in both classes had the amazing opportunity to visit (via Zoom) with the authors whose works they had been studying throughout the fall term....
    Read More
  • Expanding Global Competencies

    Beginning in the fall of 2020, Dr. Brandon Gauthier, Director of Global Education, began working with the faculty to integrate global competencies into course work and global study programs. Gauthier frames his role as: “help(ing) Derryfield continue to conceptualize global education as about person-to-person connections...
    Read More
  • Derryfield's first Malone Scholar at his graduation from Brown University.

    New Student Scholarships

    Derryfield is pleased to announce two new need-based scholarships for applying students. While the current Equitable Tuition program provides reduced tuition to 32% of our families, the new scholarships strengthen the school’s commitment to inclusivity and will allow the school to reach an even broader community....
    Read More
  • EQUITY Club Experiences Growth

    Many Derryfield students are eager for a venue to explore issues of diversity and social justice, and a vehicle to create real change in the School and beyond. Because of this energy and enthusiasm, Derryfield’s Upper School EQUITY club is enjoying unprecedented success. The club, which expanded the scope of the former Gender Equity (GEQual) Club, has rededicated itself to promoting discourse on intersectional issues, incorporating race, gender, sexuality, religion, able-bodiedness, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and other areas where inequity is a fact of American life.
    Read More
  • Finding Your Blueprint

    Manchester-based social-impact innovator Deo Mwano served as Derryfield’s 2021 Sanborn Speaker for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January. With a broad range of professional expertise, from dance to technology start-ups, his work focuses on education, technology, business, community, and individual development....
    Read More
  • Building on Our Founders' Legacy of Inclusion

    Actively opposing racism and creating a sense of belonging for all have been core parts of Derryfield’s culture since the turbulent days of the 1960s when the School was founded. Many of the Founders were dedicated civil rights activists and some were instrumental in launching Manchester’s chapter of the NAACP....
    Read More
  • Equity & Inclusion in the Classroom

    Among the most important areas of development in recent years is that of curriculum. From the humanities to STEM disciplines, teaching and learning includes discussions of race, racism, and inclusion. Professional academic organizations such as the National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE) and the Gilder Lehrman Institute encourage teachers to consider the value of students having opportunities to see themselves in what they read and study.* Derryfield’s humanities teachers choose a range of texts that are intellectually challenging and diverse in perspectives....
    Read More
  • Leadership, Ethics, and Development Curriculum

    Derryfield’s “Leading for the Common Good” campaign has certainly delivered results. Created with the goal of involving all Derryfield students in leadership development experiences and fostering influence, character, and awareness, the initiative has seen hundreds of students participate in conferences, retreats, and activities. However, prior to the 2019-2020 school year, Derryfield lacked a program that would expose students to a cohesive curriculum focused on leadership and life skills in 6th-12th grades....
    Read More

List of 3 members.

  • Photo of Laura Russell

    Laura Russell 

    Director of Equity & Belonging
  • Photo of Bernadette Robinson

    Bernadette Robinson 

    Advisor to BIPOC Affinity Groups
  • Photo of Tony Bonjorno

    Tony Bonjorno 

    GLOW Advisor

Video Library

The Derryfield School

2108 River Road, Manchester, NH 03104     p: 603.669.4524     f: 603.625.9715