Diversity & Inclusion
Rutgers Prep is a diverse Independent School. We are diverse in age, ethnicity, nationality, learning style, and culture. On our campus and in our classrooms, we strive to create an environment that is welcoming to people of all religions, races, ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, sexual orientations and gender identities. Rutgers Prep is committed to supporting, encouraging and fostering an open and inclusive community that respects the dignity of each individual, embraces diversity as a means of promoting a learning environment, encourages an exchange of information, values and ideas, and is free from discrimination, harassment and intimidation. The spirit of inclusion is a core value at Rutgers Preparatory School.
Our faculty members are not only passionate teachers, but passionate people in making this world a better place. Faculty members joined together and created a committee to research information about social justice and diversity. This faculty group is called AID (Advocates for Inclusion in Diversity). AID seeks to harness the strengths that reside in our community’s diversity - including race, gender, ability, ethnicity, religion, financial circumstance, geography, and sexual orientation- to inspire faculty and students to become advocates of social justice. We can be contacted by emailing AID@rutgersprep.org.
The mission of Advocates for Inclusion and Diversity (AID) has been primarily focused on providing workshops and resources to explore, gain an understanding of, and help faculty minimize implicit and explicit bias. We pledge to continue that work to guide our school community, as we continually strive to create a more inclusive school environment. From its inception AID’s Mission has been “to harness the strengths that reside in our community’s diversity - including race, gender, ability, ethnicity, religion, financial circumstance, geography, and sexual orientation - to inspire faculty and students to become advocates of social justice."
In the Lower School, we will use established diversity awareness months to add to our curriculum. Our main goal will be to ensure that our classrooms highlight differences and place value on those differences. To do that, we will use grade appropriate lessons with literature representing diverse perspectives. As Rudine Sims Bishop explained, “Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created or recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror. Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection, we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books.” The LS is also examining the ways in which we teach holidays and celebrations to ensure that we are encapsulating authentic voices. There will be a parent committee working with the LS AID subcommittee to provide feedback and make recommendations regarding resources that can be used to create more structured and actively anti-racist programming. The LS curriculum is still being developed for each grade level.
In the Middle School, History 7 & 8 are now called American Founders (grade 7) and Civics and Citizenship (grade 8). History 7 starts with materials from the 1619 project and weaves them into an exploration of the American founding, covering the period from Jamestown to 1861. History 8 is focused on the adoption of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments and how they reshape the republic from 1865 forward. In both classes, we will use an assortment of historical documents as well as America: History of Our Nation textbook. Summer reading for grade 8 is a collection of readings to get students engaged in the content of the Civics and Citizenship class: segments from The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, an essay on Juneteenth by historian Annette Gordon Reed; an essay on Confederate monuments by historian W. Fitzhugh Bondage, a segment on slavery's end in New Jersey from the Princeton University slavery archives, and some Langston Hughes and Richard Wright poems about the Great Migration.
In the Upper School, the Humanities Department has taken a deeper look into ways to incorporate more influences from a full spectrum of diverse voices to strengthen the curriculum. English courses are being structured into thoughtful themes: 9th grade-Finding Your Voice, 10th grade-Progress and Protest, 11th grade-American Literature/American Immigrant Perspectives to broaden the scope of knowledge that our students are studying. Within our History courses, specifically 9th-grade students, the teachers of those courses are taking a more contemporary approach shifting to presenting ancient and modern history in a parallel format. Beginning with a two-week dive into the complex history of our very own school. We have also taken a look at Divisional Policies.The school administrators on this committee have evaluated both our faculty and parent handbooks to assess our current policies with a renewed lens for potential issues. During the summer, our faculty have been offered the suggestion to read one of the following books - Waking Up White by Debby Irving, White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, or The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin. We are excited to engage in active conversation and discussion about these titles when we arrive back on campus.
"Through excellence in education, we inspire students to discover and pursue their passions, embrace intellectual curiosity and creativity, and lead with confidence." -The Rutgers Preparatory School Mission Statement
A group of RPS faculty began to meet informally in 2016 to identify ways in which we could optimize the benefits our diversity offers our community, since we are a school that celebrates diversity in age, learning styles, race, religion, sexual orientation, culture, geography, and socio-economics. From those initial meetings Advocates for Inclusion and Diversity (AID) was formed.
When COVID disrupted our on-campus routines, RPS partnered with the nonprofit research group 6 Seconds (www.6seconds.org) and innovation network OESIS (www.oesisgroup.com) to build an approach that focused on faculty training in the areas of Emotional Intelligence and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Leadership to form a common foundation from which potentially difficult conversations about DEIB (Diversity/Equity/Inclusion/Belonging) can occur. AID assisted in creating a series of custom modules that are specific to our community. An essential advantage of this approach is that any faculty/staff member who joins us in the future can take advantage of these modules so that the experience, vocabulary, and involvement remain common to all faculty.
Dr. Loy was recently featured in the cover story of OESIS Network magazine, the monthly publication of the OESIS Network, a faculty-focused nationwide innovation network of 600+ schools and thousands of teachers which seeks "catalyze change in the learning models of schools with an emphasis on the innovative practices in pedagogy, curriculum development, 21st-century assessment and school culture change."
The article, entitled "A New Breed of Trust-Focused Leaders Building Capacity for the Future," is a profile of Dr. Loy, including an interview about his early career, as well as his leadership approach to supporting DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) initiatives at Rutgers Prep.
From the article: "Steve was the first Head in our network who had decided on community emotional readiness for a new systemic plan around DEI, with its mission-appropriate form as a pre-requisite."
Read the full article on the OESIS Network website.
From our partners in social-emotional learning- Six Seconds, the AID Committee would like to share with you a few recommended resources such as books, games and hands-on activities for those families who want to explore emotional intelligence in a fun and engaging way.
Please click on the link below to access the website. These resources are for all ages “interested in developing emotional competencies and interpersonal understanding”.
An Education Vital Signs (EVS) Survey Task Force which consists of several AID committee members continues to work in partnership with 6Seconds to customize questions in preparation for the Fall roll-out of our EVS Survey to our student population. What sets the EVS apart from other climate survey initiatives thus far is that it is a normed and validated tool, designed to be implemented annually to all school stakeholders.
6Seconds is a community of changemakers contributing to a world of insight, connection, and purpose. Our professional development learning modules were created in conjunction with OESIS.
Our 6Seconds and OESIS collaboration is two-fold: it is structured to promote and support civil discourse on our campus and provide continuous learning opportunities for our school community.
Rutgers Prep’s Allies for Inclusion and Diversity (AID) committee seeks to help members of our community deepen their understanding of and commitment to issues of diversity and inclusion; as part of that work, AID invited educator and community trainer Dr. Liza Talusan to facilitate a workshop specifically designed for Rutgers Prep parents, some of whom included their children in the session.
On the evening of August 27th, our Head of School, Steve Loy, kicked off a special webinar with welcoming remarks that reaffirmed Rutgers Prep’s commitment to listening to alumni perspectives as we seek to strengthen our ongoing commitments to diversity and inclusion. “We’re here to listen. We’re here to hear. We’re here to be curious. And then, what we’ll do, is take this to help inform and guide what we do next.
We are pleased to announce that Rutgers Prep has partnered with Dr. Liza Talusan to work with our faculty and staff as we continue our commitment to diversity, inclusion, equity, and justice. Dr.Talusan is an educator, strategic change partner, leader, writer, leadership coach, and parent.