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Equity & Belonging

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. Today, during an exciting era of social change, the School’s commitment to diversity, equity, and belonging is stronger than ever before.

“Our founders helped pave new ways to address racism in their time, and I challenge all of you to do the same in our time,” Dr. Carter told the School during a 2020 summer that saw nationwide protests for social justice. “We need to continually aim high to become an educational institution that deeply advances racial justice.”
Throughout the Derryfield community, people are answering that call and acting to create positive change. Faculty and staff are reexamining curriculums and creating meaningful conversations about equity and belonging. Parents, family members, and alumni are enthusiastically engaging with the School on these critical issues, adding their important and diverse perspectives to help move Derryfield forward.
And students have been among the first—and the most energetic—to advocate for action. “They were acutely attuned to the racial events that were happening in the spring; many of them involved in different protests, in movements like Black Lives Matter,” said Dr. Diane Hotten-Somers. “And there was a real need for students to have a place at Derryfield to process all of this.”
Students created that space by leading several virtual discussion groups over the summer, which generated so much interest in working to advance equity and belonging that two strong student organizations, the Multicultural Student Union and the Upper School EQUITY club, have taken up this important challenge with renewed energy.
Derryfield’s leaders are also acting strategically to diversify the student body, build a more multicultural faculty and staff, and make the school more financially accessible to all. These initiatives are aimed at nurturing a sense of true belonging for everyone while celebrating diversities like race, religion, gender/gender identity, sexuality, disabilities, and more.
To honestly assess the School’s progress Derryfield has adopted the National Association of Independent Schools Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism (AIM) tool. AIM is a survey platform that helps to measure how a school’s constituents feel about their level of belonging. “It lets us see what we’re doing well and where we need to improve and how that changes, hopefully for the better, over time,” explained Laura Russell, chair of the Faculty and Staff Equity and Belonging Committee.
While we all hope that these initiatives can help build an ever greater sense of equity and belonging at Derryfield, we recognize that they are only steps on a journey of learning. As that journey continues these efforts, and the new ones to come, the School will be guided by a community spirit summed up by Dr. Carter. “Derryfield strives to prepare our students to be empathetic and purposeful members of any community, which includes an understanding of the value of diverse perspectives, lived experiences, and humanity of every person.”

The Derryfield School

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