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St. Luke’s Invited to Speak at NEASC Virtual Global Forum

On Tuesday, April 27, St. Luke’s participated in the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) Virtual Global Forum “DEI in Learning Communities.” Director of Equity & Inclusion Jaci Nelson shares information about the experience.

Being invited to represent St. Luke's in the NEASC Global Forum was a tremendous opportunity to talk about how, as a learning community, we are striving to ensure that every individual belongs, is valued, and has a stake in the life and purpose of the school. With over 390 Global Forum attendees from all over the world, participating in this panel alongside two student leaders from St. Luke’s, provided us with a unique platform to discuss our insights, questions, and stories of successful community engagement. As we continuously observe, reflect, reexamine, and strategize to find the most effective ways to invite the SLS community into the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work, the fact that NEASC reached out to invite St. Luke's to be a part of their forum, based on what is proudly and publicly shared regarding the school’s DEI efforts, is affirming and validating of work that has been evolving over many years. It was both an honor and a privilege to speak on behalf of St. Luke’s to share our journey to creating a more welcoming, equitable, and inclusive environment for students.

Upon further reflection, the most valuable part of this experience was hearing directly from the student panelists. As was the case at our first-ever SLS Equity Leadership Conference, putting student perspectives at the heart of DEI conversations makes clear the why, how, and what that’s required of our collective efforts to promote belonging. I am reminded that we often embrace complex and uncomfortable discussions in an attempt to better understand one another and to be responsive to issues impacting students’ lives. Our equity and inclusion work must be grounded in a shared objective in order to provide enduring knowledge, positive affirmation, and a welcoming community experience. We do this work to inspire student agency, social action, a moral compass, and commitment to serve. In genuine collaboration with students, educators and administrators must be willing to leave titles at the door. The work of fostering inclusion and belonging in a school community requires dedicated adults who are able to partner from a place of logic and truth, as well as a shared imagination of what a more equitable community and world could potentially look like.

My hope is that St. Luke’s will take advantage of every opportunity, like the NEASC Global Forum, to proudly demonstrate what it means to be a learning community working toward a Vision for Inclusive Excellence that embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion as core values understood and shared by all members of the SLS community.

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St. Luke’s School is a secular (non-religious), private school in New Canaan, CT for grades 5 through 12 serving 25 towns in Connecticut and New York. Our exceptional academics and diverse co-educational community foster students’ intellectual and ethical development and prepare them for top colleges. St. Luke’s Center for Leadership builds the commitment to serve and the confidence to lead.