As we celebrated the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday and Lunar New Year, I spent some time reflecting on our work around diversity, equity, and inclusion at Trinity.
The topic, and it’s an important one, is never far from our minds and our practices at Trinity, and I was reminded of two recent emails from my California Association of Independent Schools (242 schools) listserv around the topic. Specifically:
And from the Executive Director of CAIS: We are writing to ask for your help in nominating individuals you think would add value to our newly created Inclusion, Equity, and Belonging (IEB) Advisory Committee. Before we explain more about the Advisory Committee, we want to remind you how the IEB Committee came to fruition.
Emails such as these are relatively common throughout the year. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are priority topics at CAIS and in the independent school landscape. So let me try to give everyone a sense of how we’re addressing the topic at Trinity.
Last year, 2021 - 2022, the faculty, staff, and board at Trinity worked with Blink Consulting
to review diversity, equity, and inclusion and construct our section in Trinity 2026 (strategic plan) on the topic. So when we started in August 2021, I was sure we’d focus our work on what many consider the usual eight defining attributes (there are many variations) of diversity, including:
Along our journey, which lasted through the year, Blink Consulting led us through a series of workshops. Over time, we learned that our outcome would be less about identity groups (such as the eight above) and more about our individual life stories and how those stories merged on our collective Trinity School platform and supported the school's mission.
For example, my life journey is significantly different from David Mutunga (CFO and born in Kenya), Brenda Cano (Spanish Teacher and raised in Mexico), Bim Cleland (PE Teacher and raised in Vermont) from Denise Jison (raised in the Philippines) to Alison McKee (who are born in Los Angeles) and so on through the whole faculty. To be sure, the faculty and staff not only arrive at Trinity from different parts of the world but also represent a range of religions, ages, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic statuses (as examples).
We learned as a faculty and staff, over time, when we factor in all the above-mentioned typical attributes of diversity, our life experiences were much different from each other - yet we exist and thrive on the same campus. To be clear, we all realized some experiences are common to groups, but to assign a set of experiences to any single individual didn’t seem like the right path as a school.
As we progressed, we settled into a sense of belonging. But does everyone at Trinity, from students to faculty to parents/guardians, feel like they belong? Do we have structures in place that are welcoming and foster a sense of belonging? Conversely, can we tell if some individuals or families feel they don’t belong but are not expressing that feeling? Is everyone’s story being represented?
In summary, we looked at our individual experiences and how it shaped our voices, shared those experiences and voices, planned how we all could stand on the same platform at Trinity with a collective voice, and examined the sense of belonging at Trinity. The work is never complete, and we’re still moving forward.
Finally, regarding Trinity 2026 and our strategic planning, here’s an excerpt from the workstream relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion:
Trinity School has always fostered a welcoming culture represented by inclusion and respect. The board-approved Episcopal Identity states that Trinity School welcomes people of all faiths and backgrounds and provides an exemplary academic program for all of its students in an environment that emphasizes social responsibility. As we find the world is more connected than ever before and in the backdrop spanning the diversity of the Bay Area, the school desires to take tangible steps to further its mission where each child has a unique voice and identity that we welcome people of all faiths and backgrounds.
To intentionally and strategically further a sense of inclusion and belonging in all school programs and operations among all students and families.
Publish a document to define DEI concepts and Trinity’s goals, and provide a shared vocabulary for all constituencies.
Learn to view DEI through our lived experiences and a shared Trinity School perspective as outlined in the school’s mission and statement of Episcopal Identity.
Define Board governance responsibilities in support of DEI initiatives.
Organize faculty, staff, parents, TPA, church leadership, and the Board to support DEI work and understand how the groups collaborate.
Provide new professional development opportunities for faculty, staff, and board in DEI.
Review and enhance curricular areas to ensure inclusivity and diverse perspectives.
Use financial aid to support Trinity’s goal to serve a diverse constituency.
Assess marketing to determine if Trinity is reaching families who are currently underrepresented at the school.
We’ll continue to work on this sense of belonging at Trinity, welcome people of all faiths and backgrounds, and provide an exemplary academic program for all its students in an environment that emphasizes social responsibility.