Letter from Hillary Blunt
Let me start by taking a moment to share how much I have enjoyed meeting so many of you at our Back-to-School events and activities over the past few weeks. As I transition into this new role, I have felt tremendous welcome and energy, and I am excited to continue learning about what makes the Chandler community thrive.
In addition to the opportunities to meet many of the adults in our community, I have been equally excited to begin getting to know our students. Each day, I am energized by the sight of our students joyfully communicating with their classmates, relishing their time playing outside before morning classes begin, and engaging in fun-filled games of basketball, soccer, and volleyball at lunch.
Over the past two weeks, I have felt privileged to join the first-grade classes for a read-aloud. During each, I chose to share one of my favorite children’s books - the New York Times Bestseller Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry. Hair Love is a book that I cherish reading to my own young daughter and one that resonates with my work as an educator and equity practitioner. It speaks to the importance of loving ourselves for all the beauty we bring to the table and connects to each of the tenets that make up both my title and our school’s commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
The National Association of Independent Schools promotes the following definitions of each of these terms:
The concept of diversity embraces the wide range of human characteristics used to mark or identify individual and group identities. These characteristics include, but are not limited to, ethnicity, race, national origin, age, personality, sexual orientation, gender, class, religion, ability, and linguistic preferences. Diversity is a term used as shorthand for visible and quantifiable statuses, but diversity of thought and ways of knowing, being, and doing are also understood as natural, valued, and desired states, the presence of which benefit organizations, workplaces, and society.
Diversity does not signify a particular race, gender, or cultural background, but simply identifies the vast array of characteristics a person or group may represent.
Equity exists as a condition that balances two dimensions: fairness and inclusion. As a function of fairness, equity implies ensuring that people have what they need to participate in school life and reach their full potential. Equitable treatment involves eliminating barriers that prevent the full participation of all individuals. As a function of inclusion, equity ensures that essential educational programs, services, activities, and technologies are accessible to all.
Inclusiveness means encompassing all; taking every individual’s experience and identity into account and creating conditions where all feel accepted, safe, empowered, supported, and affirmed. An inclusive school or organization expands its sense of community to include all; cultivating belonging and giving all an equal voice.
In so many ways, Hair Love reminds me of the essence of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The power of children seeing themselves reflected in a classroom reading text, the beauty of being exposed to an identity different from your own, and the importance of ensuring we work together to create something better than we started with.
As we move forward on Chandler’s diversity, equity, and inclusion journey, one of my goals is to ground ourselves in shared language and understanding of these core values. As we grow in this shared understanding, we will deepen our awareness of practices that promote DEI at all levels of our community. I invite you to utilize me as a resource as together we look ahead to the coming years.