About NFS

Diversity at NFS

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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at NFS

At Newtown Friends School we seek to create a school that cultivates a global mindset in our students so that they develop the skills, knowledge, and disposition to lead and contribute thoughtfully and meaningfully to our diverse world. We are committed not only to making our school a warm and welcoming place for everyone but also to preparing our students to enter the world demonstrating the skills they have developed at Newtown Friends School, so that they may lead and live dynamically and peacefully with all whom they encounter.

In harmony with the Quaker testimony of equality, we strive to engage our students, parents and staff in lessons, activities, workshops and a school culture that affirms the humanity of each member of our community.  At every level of instruction, Newtown Friends School students are given the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of another and also to tell their own story.  Our goal is to graduate students who see the value in themselves as well as others, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, age, nationality, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

As Director of Equity, along with the Diversity Committee and faculty and staff,  I work with all constituents of Newtown Friends School to ensure this is a safe place for everyone.  It is my desire that every student entering our doors comes in with a sense of belonging and leaves believing they have the power to change our world, and a deep commitment to advocating for justice and equity for all people wherever they may be.

Sydney Lewis
Director of Equity
    • Sydney Lewis, Director of Equity

Diversity Statement

Newtown Friends School believes that diversity is one of our greatest strengths and that inclusion is one of our most important daily practices. The School’s focus on equity, justice, and community is rooted in the Quaker belief that there is “that of God in every person.” Every voice contributes to and strengthens our community.

We demonstrate our commitment to diversity, equity, and justice through our hiring and admission processes, curriculum and professional development, strategic planning, and governance. We believe that an excellent academic program and a healthy community require diversity of thought, identity, perspective, and experience. We embrace the challenge of building, nurturing, and sustaining our community and understand that it requires thoughtful engagement and consistent, intentional care. 

Through these practices, we seek to create a school that cultivates a global mindset in our students so they develop the skills, knowledge, and disposition to lead and contribute thoughtfully and meaningfully to our diverse world. 

DEI Committees @ NFS

List of 3 items.

  • Parent, Faculty and Staff Diversity Committee

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  • School Committee Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee

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  • TASC Diversity Committee (student led)

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2020-2021 Diversity Events & Activities

Diversity Roundtable - October

The Newtown Friends School Diversity Committee invited community members to an hour of telling our stories, connecting, and discussing our future.  For our first virtual roundtable of the year in October,  we explored the questions: 
 
Who are we?  
What brought us to Newtown Friends?
What is the value of a Quaker education in our current climate?
Where do we as a community go from here?


Virtual Watch Party and Diversity Roundtable - December

The Newtown Friends School Diversity Committee, in partnership with the George School Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, hosted a Virtual Watch Party followed by a roundtable discussion.  We viewed the moving and impactful keynote address given at the National Association of Independent Schools' People of Color Conference.  The speech, given by Dr. Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. was a "call to arms" for diversity, equity, and justice in independent schools.  
 
Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. is the author of Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul, and In a Shade of Blue: Pragmatism and the Politics of Black America. Currently, he is Chair of Princeton University's Department of African American Studies and president of the American Academy of Religion.
 
Members of the Pennswood Diversity Committee and Newtown Quaker Meeting were also invited to attend.

Diversity Roundtable - March

 
Roundtable attendees engaged in a lively discussion around the hot-button topic of Cancel Culture.  We explored questions around reframing and reexamining items from the past with a modern sensibility. The conversation ranged from Dr. Seuss to gaffes made by prominent political figures.  The conversation dove deep into what it means to adjust cultural norms, art, ideas to reflect new understandings and current thinking.  The videos and articles we used can be viewed by accessing this Padlet: Cancel Culture NFS Roundtable 3/2020

NFS School Committee and Staff work with Jen Cort

 
Throughout the 2020-2021 school year, the School Committee and staff of Newtown Friends engaged in on-going work with Jen Cort.  Jen facilitated two sessions with the School Committee to help them more deeply understand their role and connection to diversity work.  In addition, Jen worked with the staff to create "Equity Learning Circles" and are working collaboratively in small groups to deepen their understanding of certain topics.  Jen supplied well-stocked Google Drives replete with resources on each topic. The learning circles have met twice since then and will continue to meet throughout the fall and winter of the 2021-2022 school year.  The goal will be to have each group share what they've learned with the rest of the staff in Spring of 2022.  Equity Learning Circles at NFS are organized around such topics as race, gender identity, cognitive ability, religion, ethnicity, bias, mental health, bias and values different from my own.

Diversity Roundtable - November

The theme for the Newtown Friends School Diversity Committee’s November roundtable discussion was : Democracy = Diversity, Lift Every Voice. How do we make space for all voices in our lives and in our community to rebuild after division?  
 
Participants shared  in an evening of exploring tough questions together with the hope of community building and individual reflection and sharing.
 
This session was led by Jason Allen, 7th grade parent and principal of xCHANGEs.

Virtual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Activities

The Diversity Committee, along with the Upper School faculty and students, planned a day of events for the entire family to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday, January 18th. 
 
Morning Read Alouds for Lower School
In our long tradition of forging connections between our older and younger pupils, students in grades 6-8 volunteered to read books to Lower School students (PreK-5).  The read aloud was followed by a discussion led by the Upper School students.  
 
Student-Led Diversity Camp for Parents, Faculty, Staff, and Upper School Students
Eighth grade students facilitated discussions about topics dealing with diversity (Race and Racial Inequality, Gender and Sexuality, and Ethnicity and Religion).  Parents, faculty, staff and Upper School students were invited to attend.  
 
Food Drive for Mercer Street Friends
In keeping with the spirit of MLK Day as a National Day of Service, we supported Mercer Street Friends Food Bank with a food drive the week of January 18-22.  The school donated 1841 pounds of food.

Diversity Roundtable - April

 
In April, NFS welcomed Melissa Perkins of the Persad Center to present a special roundtable: The Basics of SOGIE (Sexual Orientation, Gender Expression and Identity to our Upper School students, parents, faculty, and staff.  Melissa guided attendees through a privilege walk, and gave them some basic definitions and understanding with regard to these topics.  Students, parents, and staff were able to ask questions and share their thoughts with the group.

NAIS People of Color Conference

The entire staff of Newtown Friends School attended the National Association of Independent  Schools' People of Color Conference on December 2, 2020.  Faculty, staff and administrators participated in a wide variety of sessions on diversity led by renowned scholars, activists, leaders and fellow educators.

Diversity Roundtable - February


In February, NFS Celebrated the history-making Inauguration of President Joseph Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris by having a special roundtable.  We watched Amanda Gorman read her poem, "The Hill We Climb" at the inauguration and her TED talk "Using Your Voice as a Political Choice".  Next, we engaged in lively discussion around the themes she presented and shared our own thoughts, opinions, songs, poems, and art that champion diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

DEI Focused Upper School Advisories

 
In our Upper School DEI topics are regularly staples of the curriculum.  However from time to time something may occur that causes our students to request information, dedicated time and discussion around certain events or topics.  This year was no exception.  Special advisory sessions were planned for our 6th through 8th grade students on topics such as LGBTQIA basics, rights, expression etc., the complicated history of the "N" word and its impact, and the rise in hate crimes against the Asian American community and how to combat them.  

Diversity Roundtable - May

 
In May, NFS Celebrated Asian American and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month with special guest-speakers at our roundtable.  Two Asian members of our community, Dr. Jinbo Chen and Ms. Jacqueline Kowalski shared some aspects of their cultures with attendees, talked about their families' experiences at NFS, and addressed their responses to the recent uptick in hate crimes against their community.  Attendees were treated to an evening of listening and learning from valued members of our school community.
Located In Newtown, Pennsylvania, Newtown Friends School is a Private School For Grades Pre-K-8th Grade.