Awareness, Inclusion, & Respect

Second Semester 2021 AIR Update

ESJ’s Awareness, Inclusion, & Respect (AIR) Initiative, led by a Steering Committee made up of representatives from each campus, began programming this fall in each of its three-step implementation plans - Listen to All Voices, Educate Our Community, and Embrace Anti-Racism. Community conversations were held with alumni, faculty, and staff in late summer and early fall to begin facilitating discussion and sharing perspectives with each other. Upon return to campus in August, faculty, staff, and students participated in OneJax’s Civil Discourse and the University of North Florida’s Department of Diversity Initiatives Cultural Competency training. Student peer groups with particular focuses, such as the Black Student Union, formed. In September students received Diversity Education facilitated by Deidre Lane of OneJax. On Election Day students discussed self-care to ensure each member of the community felt safe and heard. Community Norms were reinforced through advisory discussions.

During the spring semester and in the coming months plans include additional training and education with OneJax; Civil Discourse discussions and training with students and faculty that explore more pressing topics relevant to the social climate; and provision of additional resources for faculty, staff, and students, such as professional development, programming, and more community conversations. Our multi-year work to enhance our curriculum continues.

“We understand that this work is ours to do. No one can do it for us -- not a trainer, or a new textbook, or a single club or conversation. This is both short- and long-term work. The goal for AIR is to keep the forward momentum by encouraging all of us to continue in conversation,” said Amy Burrows Perkins ’92, Director of Student Services. “Within our community are people anxious to move us forward and people who seek to value traditions. ESJ senior Taylor Wells was especially insightful when she noted that ‘there is a need to help others understand that our actions and words may mean one thing to us but another thing to others...’ When we can talk through how we perceive each other, only then can we really begin to know each other. We are all individuals with different perspectives who all contribute equally to the community we share.”

Episcopal’s focus on Health, Safety, and Well-Being in our students, faculty, and staff is a priority that continues to ensure important conversations are happening, an environment open to tackling tough conversations is in place, and most importantly, our students, faculty, and staff feel cared for, included and safe on our campuses.


These resources are provided with the intent to connect the ESJ community to information so together we can engage in challenging conversations. These sites are not associated with the school.
The Way of Love: Practices for a Jesus Centered Life  by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry
Living into God's Dream: Dismantling Racism in America   Edited by Catherine Meeks, foreword by Jim Wallis
Race and Prayer: Collected Voices, Many Dreams by Malcolm Boyd and Bishop Chester Talton

Unconscious Bias Video

Look Different Project

The Importance of Juneteenth, by ESJ History Department Faculty member Mr. Brant

"The Social Implications of Race," TEDx Talk by ESJ Parent Tammy Hodo

An Essential Reading Guide for Fighting Racism

Anti-Defamation League Anti-Bias Tools & Strategies

Learning for Justice

For Young Children:

Jacksonville Mom - "Not Quite Snow White" and More Books Celebrating Our Differences

Social Justice Books - Booklists, Teaching for Change, Guide for Selecting Anti-Bias Children's Books

Action Steps

  • Host Community Conversations, starting this month
  • Strengthen Student Peer Support Groups at the start of the school year to ensure availability of protected spaces to verbalize experiences
  • Launch Faculty and Staff Peer Support Groups at the start of the school year to ensure availability of protected spaces to verbalize experiences

Leslie Bransford, St. Mark's Campus Faculty
Christy Hodges, Dean of Student Life
Emily Farmer, Munnerlyn Campus Faculty
Dr. Derrick King, Munnerlyn Campus Faculty
Marta Pauly, Dean of Faculty
Amy Perkins, Director of Student Services
Rachel Ricker, Beaches Campus Faculty
The Rev. Teresa Seagle, School Chaplain
Marcus Wells, Director of Upper School Admissions, Financial Aid, and Student Transition

Previous Communications

Dear Episcopal Community Members:

Over the past few weeks our Black students and alumni have shared their own painful experiences of racism within our Episcopal community, and our school family is calling for change. As Head of School, I want you to know that the Board of Trustees and I hear your voices, and we will work with you for change. 

I want to share with you additional details about what we will do to promote a healthy culture where all are equally regarded with respect and dignity. Episcopal’s Action Plan contains these essential components: Listen to All Voices, Educate our Community, and Embrace Anti-Racism in our Structures, Policies, and Curriculum. Specific steps have already been identified for immediate action prior to the start of school, and the Plan will also continue to evolve over the coming months. 

Our Awareness, Inclusion, & Respect (AIR) Initiative is being driven by a newly appointed Steering Committee, consisting of faculty and senior administrators. The AIR Steering Committee will identify ongoing specific actions we will take to ensure a safe place for all as we start the new school year and continue forward. The Steering Committee will also partner with the existing Student AIR Council to improve awareness, inclusion, and respect on campus. 

A number of these immediate steps align with feedback we have received from many of you, and future steps will continue to incorporate input from the community:

Listen to All Voices

  • Host Community Conversations, starting this month
  • Strengthen Student Peer Support Groups at the start of the school year to ensure availability of protected spaces to verbalize experiences
  • Launch Faculty and Staff Peer Support Groups at the start of the school year to ensure availability of protected spaces to verbalize experiences

Educate our Community 

  • Continue to proactively increase senior leadership, faculty, staff, and student diversity through intentional hiring and marketing
  • Engage Faculty and Staff in Anti-Bias and Anti-Racism training during August Pre-Planning 
  • Develop Advisory-based small group activities for all students on awareness, inclusion, and respect 
  • Expand Anti-Bias training for all community members 

Embrace Anti-Racism

  • Launch in August a thoughtful process to identify opportunities for additional academic studies that reflect diversity in thought, ideology, and experiences 
  • Update the Student-Parent Handbook to state: “Communication or action (verbal or electronic) that demeans and demoralizes another person’s race, religion, gender, or sexuality” is a Severe Violation with a minimum consequence of some form of suspension
  • Update the Faculty and Staff Handbook and Code of Conduct to explicitly state expectations in regard to acceptance of students and people of color

Right now, Listen to All Voices continues to be a major priority. The AIR Steering Committee will host Community Conversations beginning in July to provide an opportunity for attendees to share additional feedback and identify solutions, ensuring that Episcopal lives out its mission of respect and inclusion. During the Community Conversations, facilitators will ask attendees to focus on the following:

  • What are some best practices that promote equity and inclusion and fight racism that you think would be effective at Episcopal?
  • What unique opportunity(s) are in front of Episcopal that we should not miss?
  • What new initiatives should we undertake? Which existing ones should we expand?

We welcome your feedback to the questions via our online feedback form.

The Board of Trustees and I are deeply committed to an Episcopal culture that is nurturing and that promotes racial justice and truly respects the dignity of every human being. We thank our Black students and alumni, who have provided us with painfully honest accounts of their experiences as well as concrete and actionable feedback over the past few weeks. We are holding ourselves accountable. We ask that you stay engaged and commit to this process with us as we Listen to All Voices, Educate our Community, and Embrace Anti-Racism. This will be an ongoing effort for our great school, and we look forward to your being a part of this essential journey. As always, thank you for your support and your love for Episcopal. 


The Rev. Adam Greene 

Head of School

Dear Episcopal Community:

Over the past few days, I have read so many letters and emails regarding our nation’s current crisis. Sparked by the terrible, horrific death of George Floyd, these notes from my alma maters, from CEO’s of large corporations, from church and religious leaders and from other school heads have each acknowledged that George Floyd’s death was senseless and profoundly disturbing. Racism continues to scar our country. The Covid-19 pandemic has had an outsized impact on our minority communities. There has been some condemnation of the violence and riots in our streets, and there has also been some apologizing for this violence.

Over the past few days, I have also been praying a great deal. Praying for our country, praying for our city, praying for our school community — our school family. And I have prayed for guidance as to what we can do better. What can we as a school community do to help those who are suffering, those who feel disenfranchised, those who have felt the pain of being discriminated against. If we were together on campus, I would gather our students together in Chapel. I would say as directly as I possibly could that judging someone based on their race goes directly against our Baptismal Covenant to “respect the dignity of every human being” — the theme that has been at the forefront of our worship life these past three years. I would say to our students that anyone in our community who intentionally makes someone feel diminished because of who they are cannot be part of this very special place that we call Episcopal.

While words are important, I would like to see more proposed actions and answers to end racism and bigotry in all their terrible forms. Those actions must begin with us. So what have we done and what are we doing as a school to educate, support, build up, and ensure that we truly are, as St. Paul says, one body with many members? We provide love and support for each individual in our community. We never tolerate anyone being made to feel “less than” or “other.” Our goal is unity through our differences, which makes us a stronger community.

Specifically, the following are some examples of our commitment:

  • Through our Diversity and Inclusion Council, we will continue to provide a forum for discussion and idea generation on ways to continue to improve awareness, inclusion, and respect of all individuals within the community. This committee is a safe place for discussion and sharing of views and ideas.
  • We are intentional about building an increasingly diverse culture and organization. Already a key goal within Seek Boldly, our strategic plan, this includes an increase in professional development with faculty and staff related to raising awareness. For example, all three campuses came together in January to participate in training by the Anti-Defamation League. Faculty and staff also discussed White Fragility, and viewed a TED Talk by ESJ parent Dr. Tammy Hodo.
  • A senior member of our administrative staff is responsible for financial aid and student transition, a role we created to provide meaningful guidance to students and their families as they acclimate to Episcopal. This staff director works with these students and their families to ensure student success in academics, arts, athletics, and spiritual life.
  • Serving all of our neighbors is another way of strengthening the Episcopal family, and St. Paul also calls us to lift each other up and support one another regardless of our gifts, talents, and differences. This year our senior class alone provided more than 29,000 hours of community service as they put others above themselves.
  • Our collective worship in Chapel celebrates diversity and teaches tolerance as a human value, as do Global Community Day and Celebrating Service Day.

Yes, we have been making strides as a school community in ensuring that love for one another, regardless of who or what we are, is at the forefront of all that we do. But we must do more. And we will do more. We will come together as students, faculty and staff, parents, and alumni. We will discuss in an open and honest way how our school can continue to be a place where all feel equally welcome, how our school can be its best — for every member of our community. Over the coming year, I look forward to speaking with you all about these issues in a deep and thoughtful way. For now, know that our Episcopal family stands together as we condemn the racial hatred, mistrust, and injustice that sadly still exist in our world.


The Rev. Adam S. Greene
Head of School

We want to hear from you.

Three questions are being asked of the community members participating in our Community Conversations regarding Awareness, Inclusion, & Respect. We invite you to share your ideas on how we move forward using the form below.