In many schools, their programs for art, dance music, theater, fitness, language, and STEAM are considered “specials.” At Aspen Academy, Our programs are “Essentials” because we believe they are Essential ingredients in a life well-lived. Given their significance in our student’s lives, they are also crucial programs for integrating our commitment to Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JED/DEI).
Justice, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Developing Cultural Competence:
Our Mission & Vision
Aspen Academy is committed to creating and maintaining an environment that supports diversity, equity, and inclusion by promoting respect and understanding of diverse cultures, social groups, and individuals. Cultural competence is the ability to understand, communicate with and effectively interact with people across cultures.
We believe that an organization that prioritizes diversity, equity and inclusion creates an environment that respects and values individual difference along varying dimensions. In addition, inclusive organizations foster cultures that minimize bias and recognize and address systemic inequities, which, if unaddressed, can create disadvantages for community members. These efforts are reflected in our organizational mission, vision, and values; are incorporated into strategic plans; and inform all we do as a school.
We as a school do not shy away from potentially difficult conversations, such as, but not limited to: differences, diversity, identity, privilege, bias, prejudice, race, and injustice. Instead, we take them on as moments to grow and create an even more inviting and inclusive environment- conducive for the learning for all people.
Actions We Are Taking and Opportunities for Growth: 2020 Initiatives
All students, families, and staff members are valued for their unique experiences and perspectives they bring to our community. Everyone is encouraged to grow into their most authentic self and to be seen, valued, and heard in that process of growth.
At Aspen, we put feet to our mission, vision and values by using and applying this work in every classroom using the Social Justice Standard (from Teaching Tolerance) as a framework to guide connections to leadership in the areas of: Identity, Diversity, Justice, and Action.
We edify and inspire students and educators to grow, learn, and lead. (Aspen Academy's Mission) We do this through celebrating diversity and affirming all cultural dimensions and identities:
- Acknowledging & Evaluating Systems of Justice and Equity from Local to National to International Environments
- Providing Safe Spaces for Courageous Conversations for Students, Parents and Faculty
- Providing Affinity Spaces for Students, Parents and Faculty
- Providing ongoing and current information and resources for Students, Parents and Faculty to remain engaged in their own life-long work and personal growth
- Identifying the need for and fostering an environment in which increased work can be done in the areas of Self-Identity and Self-Awareness
- Integrating Teaching Tolerance Standards into existing curriculum to reflect Social Justice
- Leveraging Aspen Academy’s own Future Holders Curriculum and Lessons in the areas of Social Emotional Learning, Character and Development, and Cultural Competence
- Integrating Pollyanna’s Racial Literacy Curriculum for Grades K-8 which is designed to help students gain knowledge about race as it has been constructed in the United States.
- Engagement in ongoing curricular evaluation to ensure inclusive and cultural representation in instructional materials, lessons and textbooks.
- Ongoing professional development providing best practices for teachers in the areas Social Justice Instruction and creating/maintaining Culturally Responsive Classrooms.
All humans have the right to thrive with dignity and freedom from racism and discrimination in all its forms.”
- Amina J. Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary General
Your Sphere of Influence: Danielle Coke
"While fighting racism will be a long and difficult journey because of how engrained it is in many aspects of society, there are so many steps you can take in the short-term to contribute to change." - Danielle Coke
Anti-racist awareness and action is a continual process of becoming. It is fundamentally iterative.
Several of our Middle School teachers and faculty took time to talk with me about their Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) efforts: Corey Sampson (Middle School Director), Eric Peterson (8th Grade Communications & Literacy), Susan Perkins (6th Grade Communications & Literacy), and Jake Lovett (5th & 6th Grade Social Studies).
As part of Aspen Academy's commitment to continuous improvement, every five years, department chairs revisit each curriculum area. Learn more about this review from the lens of DEI in this interview with Joanna Weisel.