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Walnut Hill School for the Arts

Diversity and Inclusion

Walnut HILL STATEMENT ON DIVERSITY & INCLUSION

Walnut Hill seeks to cultivate a spirit of inclusivity and multiculturalism by weaving diverse curriculum, programming, and practices into the academic, artistic, and social fabric of the school. We believe it is critical to educate members of our community to be responsible global citizens. In order to navigate the tensions and challenges of our world, it is imperative to understand where we each came from, where we are, and where we are going.

We promote a sense of worth and belonging in everyone. We ask that all members of the school community consider those who are marginalized. We ask all members to attend thoughtfully to instances of difference including but not limited to opinion, age, ability, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, ethnicity, race, and religion. We expect community members to both form and express their own viewpoints, consider and understand divergent perspectives, and confront difference with maturity, civility, and respect.


MLK 2017 SPECIAL ASSEMBLY

Melinda Weekes-Laidlow delivered a powerful speech titled, "The Bread of Hope: Taking Cues from MLK: Art & Artists in the Work of Social Justice" at the Walnut School of the Arts in Natick, MA for their Martin Luther King Day celebration in January 2017.

Our Commitment

Walnut Hill School for the Arts demonstrates its commitment to diversity, inclusion, and social justice in the following ways:

Walnut Hill Diversity Committee, comprised of faculty and staff

Diversity Committee Mission Statement

The Walnut Hill Diversity Committee works collaboratively to advocate for, promote, and support diversity and inclusion in all areas of campus life. The WHDC encourages students, staff, and faculty to grow in their own understanding of diversity, and works to ensure an equitable and inclusive experience for every member of the community. The committee actively facilitates and fosters the following:

• Multicultural curricula in academic and artistic courses that raise awareness of and celebrate difference in safe, intellectual, and thought-provoking settings;

• Community programs that encourage exploration, appreciation, and tolerance of diverse cultures and lifestyles; spark dialogues about social justice; and provide opportunities for meaningful advocacy;

• Progressive skill sets for all community members, including cooperation, listening for understanding, cultural competency, and the ability to lean into discomfort.

Committee definitions of Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity is quantitative and speaks to who we are. Diversity is the entire range of human differences that includes but is not limited to race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status, physical and cognitive abilities, religious affiliation, ethical values, national origin and political beliefs.

Inclusion is qualitative. Inclusion is the deliberate act of welcoming diversity and it recognizes the inherent worth and dignity of all people. An inclusive school promotes and sustains a sense of belonging; it values and respects the talents, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of living of its community members so that all different kinds of people can thrive and succeed.

Student Representatives for Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice

Diversity and Inclusion Student representatives work on student-led initiatives and they also provide a student voice for diversity work. They focus on events and assembly programming as well as doing reflective and personal growth in the areas of diversity, inclusion and social justice. These students are Leadership Students, and as such, participate in student community life activities.

The 2016–2017 Student Representatives are:
Aniella Day ’18
Nyah Malone ’19
Chili Shi ’18

Affinity groups for students

Affinity groups for students are being launched during the 2016–2017 school year. NAIS defines affinity group as “bringing together of people who have something important in common, e.g., race, gender, profession, or special interests. Any significant historical movement or everyday social interaction could probably be traced to the actions of people who share a common experience and passion.”

Faculty Professional Development

SEED Group (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) Training for Faculty and Staff

“The National SEED Project SEED is a peer-led professional development program that creates conversational communities to drive personal, organizational, and societal change toward greater equity and diversity. We do this by training individuals to facilitate ongoing seminars within their own institutions and communities. SEED leaders design their seminars to include personal reflection and testimony, listening to others' voices, and learning experientially and collectively. Through this methodology, SEED equips us to connect our lives to one another and to society at large by acknowledging systems of oppression, power, and privilege, without blame, shame, or guilt.”

Events and Speakers

Walnut Hill regularly hosts events and bring speakers to campus around issues of diversity, inclusion, and social justice. The Diversity Committee helps coordinate this effort along with student input.

Speakers have included:

Dr. Christina Marin
Dr. Christina Marín is a Professor of Performing Arts at Emerson College were she teaches courses in Theatre of the Oppressed, Human Rights in Theatre, Drama as Education, Qualitative Research, and Contemporary Issues in Education. She holds a Ph.D. in Theatre with a concentration in Theatre for and with young people from Arizona State University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre with a concentration in Acting and Directing from Northwestern University. She is an international practitioner of Theatre of the Oppressed and a professional theatre director who focuses on plays addressing human rights violations, especially along the U.S.-Mexico border. Her work has taken her to Singapore, Jamaica, Ireland, Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia, Turkey, and South Africa, as well as all across the United States. Her work has been funded by the American Association of University Women, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, and the Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship through the Department of Education. She is one of the founders of the Girls’ Leadership Camp at Kimball Union Academy in New Hampshire and has worked with both the Theatre Department and Humanities Department at Boston Arts Academy. She has been involved in theatre since the age of 10 and still considers herself an evolving artist and student of the art form.

Marshall Davis Jones
Marshall Davis Jones is a world bridger. His unique gift to make us think, feel and realize runs deep into the human experience. As a prominent and accomplished poet, speaker and workshop facilitator Marshall has taken his talents across the globe with performance and education at the helm. He has spoken for companies such as Microsoft, Square and Proctor & Gamble. He has appeared on TV Ones Verses & Flow, TedX and has even had one of his poems launched into space. When Marshall isn't writing poems he enjoys asking his daughter for the keys to the universe. Whether, he is speaking for a corporation or to a group of high energy youth, the center of his work is the power of how we connect, the power in how we contribute and the necessity of finding our greatest potential, to continue. He has dedicated his life, to building bridges and bridging worlds, so that others, may find meaning in their lives.

SpeakOUT
SpeakOUT is a community of speakers working to create a world free of homo-bi-trans-phobia and other forms of prejudice by telling the truths of our lives.

State Representative David Linsky
David Paul Linsky is the State Representative for the 5th Middlesex House District representing the towns of Natick, Sherborn, and Millis. He was first elected to the seat in 1999. Representative Linsky serves as the Chairman of the House Committee on Post Audit & Oversight and as the House Chair of the Joint Committee on Federal Stimulus Oversight. Prior to joining the State Legislature, Representative Linsky served as Assistant District Attorney in Middlesex County for fourteen years, during which he prosecuted hundreds of cases including sexual assault, murder, and white collar crime. He is currently an active practicing trial attorney and a member of the Massachusetts Bar Association. Linsky, a life-long Natick resident, was educated within the Natick Public Schools and is a graduate of Natick High School. He earned his B.A. from Colby College in 1979 and his J.D. from Boston College Law School in 1982. Linsky has three sons.

Performances have included:

Theatre Espresso

Saakumu Dance Troupe from Ghana, West Africa

Lunar New Year Celebration


For more information on these initiatives, please contact Director of Diversity and Inclusion Linda Hughes at lhughes@walnuthillarts.org.




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