CURRENT DEI-ABAR INITIATIVES
Wellan's DEI-ABAR work cuts across all the domains of the strategic framework that the School has adopted, touching on all areas of operations. Below are some examples of key initiatives the School is currently undertaking.
Curricular Initiatives/Student Learning
An ABAR-certified faculty member has been given release time in 2022-2023 to develop specific DEI-ABAR lessons for students in grades 4 – 8. The goal of this curriculum is to empower students to capably and knowledgeably engage with a perpetually changing social landscape and gain the confidence, tools, and language to mindfully take part in positive change. Through this curriculum, students will receive explicit instruction to learn a shared vocabulary and a strategic, open-minded approach to this work. Wellan is committed to providing students with experiences to deepen this learning outside of the classroom. Currently, Wellan annually sends students in grades 6 – 8 to the AISNE middle school DEI Conference.
At Wellan, we aim to provide print material in our school library that covers a wide range of reading levels and developmentally appropriate content through a collection that is relevant, diverse, and in good condition. In recent years, the librarian has been weeding and building the collection to eliminate texts that reinforce biased stereotypes and add new titles that align with our DEI-ABAR learning outcomes. We recognize that "representation matters," so we aim to include literacy resources that serve as "mirrors," allowing all students to see people like themselves reflected in book characters. We also seek to include texts that give students "windows" into the lives of those very different from themselves. (Note: The concept of "mirrors/windows"comes from the work of Rudine Sims Bishop.)
Professional Development/ABAR Certification
Wellan offers ongoing professional development to school employees relating to all types of diversity and social justice issues. Recent all-school examples include sessions led by Carlos Hoyt and ongoing book discussions of This Book Is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell. In addition, faculty engaged in workshops related to gender and human sexuality education led by human sexuality consultant and author of Talk to Me First, Deborah Roffman. Our Elementary and Middle School faculty also received extensive training in the Our Whole Lives human sexuality curriculum.
The School has also invested in sending individual teachers to a 12-week ABAR Certification program offered through the American Montessori Society. Additionally, Wellan annually sends several faculty members to the AISNE Diversity Conference and the AISNE Health and Wellness Conference.
We recently launched Wellan Institute to offer adult learning workshops and a Montessori Teacher Education Program (TEP). A major goal in developing the Wellan Institute TEP is to increase the ranks of people of color who are Montessori-certified.
A Wellan faculty team is developing a proposal for ways to create Affinity Spaces for students, employees, and/or parents in our school community. This initiative is a follow-up to requests from students and parents. This past year, Wellan has supported parents who are members of the LGBTQIA+ community in planning several family get-togethers. We are eager to facilitate other community gatherings to meet student, faculty, and family needs. If you’d like help connecting with others with whom you have something in common, reach out to email@example.com and we will be in touch!
Pre-COVID, the Head of School welcomed parents to a series of Fireside Chats at which various school-related topics were raised and discussed. These informal, open-ended conversations, hosted in the homes of Wellan parents, provide an opportunity for members of the Wellan community to engage in meaningful dialogue about important issues. We are looking forward to reinstating this tradition in 2023-2024 and commit to focusing on DEI-ABAR themes at one or more of these annual events.
Racial Equity Data Project
Wellan recently signed a 3-year contract with Flair, a company whose mission is to help schools “take data-backed action on racial equity.” Annual surveys of students in grades 4 –8 and Wellan employees will give us useful data about our school’s diversity and growing understanding of racial equity issues. Flair uses “advanced analytics to uncover blindspots and remove subjectivity” so that we can develop plans to focus our DEI-ABAR efforts in more targeted ways for greater impact.
Admissions and Financial Aid
Wellan seeks to reflect in its student body the diversity of the greater Boston population. In an effort to diversify enrollment, the school plans to expand from a 1-person to a 2-person Admissions Office. We are currently seeking to fill a Director of Marketing and Enrollment position, which will focus on recruiting students and managing enrollment in ways aligned with diversity and other strategic priorities.
Wellan uses financial aid as a tool to enhance socio-economic diversity. Since 2017, the percent of tuition revenue allocated for aid has increased from 4.8% to 6.1% (with a high of 8.2% in 2020-2021 due to families experiencing new or short-term financial hardships due to COVID).
FINANCIAL/OPERATIONAL HEALTH AND SUSTAINABILITY
Recognizing that inclusivity begins with access, Wellan has for years been working with its landlord, Sacred Heart Parish, on improving building access for people who use assisted mobility devices, including wheelchairs. West Hall now has a ramp, elevator, and lift, making all learning areas fully accessible. Though the main school building, built in 1922, was “grandfathered” as is, Wellan recently had an ADA audit done to determine what improvements are needed. We now have architectural designs for an elevator that would provide entry to three floors, a corridor that would connect the Beginner Wing and Arts Wing, and a lift from the corridor down to the gym and stage. Next steps include obtaining permissions from several entities, obtaining engineering and construction drawings, and securing funding. We optimistically anticipate having these improvements completed in time for the 2025-2026 school year.