Our Awareness, Inclusion and Respect (AIR) effort is rooted in the principle of Respecting the Dignity of Every Human Being. This language comes directly from the Episcopal Church’s Baptismal Covenant and has been one of our school’s core values since its founding. Forming this effort as AIR was a student-led effort. A group gathered in 2018 to acknowledge and address areas of student need and decided that AIR was the best way to capture our purpose.
Our priority has always been to be responsive to our community as we implement our efforts. With that said, our role as educators is to teach our students how to think and not teach them what to think. Similarly, we seek to teach our students how to communicate, and working through difficult issues together is the best way to increase understanding and acceptance.
Following the Summer of 2020, we shared our intention to advance our AIR efforts for the 2020-2021 school year and promote a healthy culture by focusing on the following components: Listen to All Voices, Educate the Community, and Embrace Anti-Racism. The process required vulnerability and courage and was not always comfortable.
Below is a listing of some of our 2020-2021 highlights:
Listen to All Voices
- Hosted Community Conversations which allowed and encouraged ESJ alumni, current students, families, faculty, and staff to share their perspectives and experiences.
- Actively sought community feedback in response to [email protected] and other social media posts.
- Supported the establishment of student Peer Groups at the Munnerlyn Campus Upper School to ensure availability of identity-based groups to verbalize common experiences and support each other.
- Head of School and Peer Group students met to share feedback and discuss ways to continue addressing student needs.
- Implemented Civil Discourse programming through professional development at all campuses and student events at the Munnerlyn Campus, providing opportunities to hear and increase understanding of different perspectives.
Educate the Community
- Established Community Norms.
- Engaged Faculty and Staff in Anti-Bias training.
- Provided introductory diversity training to Middle and Upper School students.
- Student voices were represented in the “Making Sense Together” professional development session for faculty and staff.
- Continued Munnerlyn Campus effort to ensure representation of diverse voices and perspectives across curricula.
- Increased faculty, staff, and student diversity on all campuses.
- Hosted OneJax’s Metrotown for a Day for Upper School student leaders and a faculty session “Bringing Civility to the Classroom'' at the Lower Schools.
In 2021-2022, we will remain responsive to community needs and steadfast in our belief that Respecting the Dignity of Every Human Being will nurture and strengthen our community. Last year’s Listening efforts identified the need for additional community building in order to cultivate a sense of belonging for all of our students. The most effective means through which we can attain our goal is through ongoing education. To be clear, AIR is an ongoing and intentional effort that will continue to rely on the participation and voices of all in our community.
Reverend Greene introduced the theme for the year: “Words Matter,” which has been shared during chapel at all campuses. We are committed to complimenting the Words Matter message with continued action. AIR efforts continue to be supported through an AIR Steering Committee of faculty, staff, and administrators and an AIR Student Council, as well as Upper School student Peer Groups. Below is a current overview of our priorities for 2021-22.
- Focus AIR-related efforts on Upper and Middle School faculty, staff, and students.
- Continue the Lower School community focus on fostering empathy and civility inside and outside of the Classroom.
- Support the AIR Student Council’s efforts to positively impact the school community.
- Maintain the safe and supportive environment for Upper School students provided by Peer Groups.
- August 3: College Counseling Beyond the Basics event: “Exploring the HBCU Experience”
- September 8: AIR Student Council Induction Service
- Closing Prayer:
Lord, you show us what it means to love all persons, embracing our differences and our uniqueness. You love all persons unconditionally. You do not favor any group over another. We pray that we may see all persons as you see them, that our differences may be woven together in one community who loves and cares for one another. We pray that we may be able to love as you love, to care as you care. In your name we pray. Amen.
- Closing Prayer:
- “Words Matter” sermon by The Rev. Adam Greene shared with students at all campuses
- September 16 : “Words Matter, You Matter, Community Matters” student program kicks off the Munnerlyn Campus’ Health, Safety, and Well-Being effort. Advisor-facilitated conversation, games, and activities reinforced the message about how small gestures of kindness foster a sense of belonging and can make a big impact on individuals and the community as a whole.