About Us

Inclusion and Multicultural Practice

Our Diversity Mission Statement


Shady Hill is a diverse, inclusive school that offers a rich multicultural curriculum. It is our diversity — in ethnicity, family structure, gender, gender identity, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socio-economic background — that makes us a wiser and stronger community. We teach children to explore human similarities and differences, to challenge stereotypes, and to understand how our perceptions affect our ideas about truth. A Shady Hill education validates children's individual lives and prepares them to succeed in a multicultural society.

We are committed to building a community that understands and values our diverse world and we actively seek students, faculty, and staff from a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives. We promote social justice and seek to eliminate bias in school life, including admissions, hiring, and financial aid. Our board maintains and affirms this commitment by formally reviewing the diversity of our community and our admissions, hiring and retention results on an annual basis.
As one of the very first independent schools in New England to enroll Black students, Shady Hill has a long and storied history of working towards racial equity and justice. This work is never done. Racism and white supremacy are deeply rooted in our society and are also present in our institution, demanding an ongoing, thoughtful, systematic response. We must examine our mistakes and missteps, and take responsibility for the pain and harm we’ve caused in moments when we did not live up to our racial equity mission. Through this honest and transparent assessment and analysis, we can repair relationships, build new systems and practices, and shift ideologies and culture to create a more equitable school. 

Shady Hill is proud of its commitment to providing a sense of belonging for all students, and affinity groups are an important resource for building communities. Affinity group spaces provide opportunities for our students to connect around shared experiences.  Our newest affinity group, called Gender-Expansive Kids, welcomes students from Beginners to Grade VIII who identify as transgender, nonbinary, gender non-conforming, or gender identity other than cisgender. In addition to our affinity group spaces, the Middle School has added a new program called  Social Justice Spotlight.  In pursuit of our mission to develop students who are “intellectually adventurous and wholeheartedly just,” all Middle School students this year, whether they attend an affinity gathering or not, engage in conversations and activities focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion during Social Justice Spotlight time. Aligned with the Shady Hill commitment to diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging, the School announced in May 2021 to expand and rename the Office of Inclusion and Multicultural Practice to the Equity Office. In the fall, education consulting firm Diversity Directions virtually revisited the School to help assess and focus the mission of the Equity Office as we advance our work at Shady Hill.

Diversity at Shady Hill

DASH (Diversity At Shady Hill) was founded in 1987 by a group of parents and faculty to help foster and celebrate the diversity of the Shady Hill community.  DASH strives to cultivate an atmosphere of mutual respect and welcomes participation from ALL members of the Shady Hill community. DASH accomplishes these goals by: 

1) organizing educational, supportive, and enrichment opportunities for parents,
2) coordinating events to support underrepresented families through our family affinity group structure,
3) hosting social gatherings for the full Shady Hill community.

DASH is led by volunteer parent co-chairs who work closely with the Director of Inclusion & Multicultural Practice. Groups that are part of DASH include:

Parent Affinity Groups: SHS parents and guardians connect through shared experience and shared identity via activities and learning opportunities. Affinity groups are open to those who identify with these specific affinities. Parent leaders of these groups and their emails are highlighted below. 
  • Families of Children of Color
  • LGBTQ Families
  • Adoptive Families
  • Neurodiverse Families
  • People Parenting Alone/Single Parent Families
If you are interested in getting involved in affinity group leadership, please contact Laniesha Gray.

Parent/Guardian Learning Cohorts: SHS parents and guardians connect and build relationships through robust learning communities that challenge prejudice and create meaningful action. Learning cohorts are open to all parents/guardians.

  • Parent/Guardian SEED: An opportunity to engage in a series of engaging, interactive sessions on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Multimedia stories, hands-on simulations, conversation, and reflection generate deep conversations and action about race, gender, and class equity. Led by SHS community members trained as facilitators by the National Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity (SEED) Project.
 

A Commitment to a Diverse Faculty

Recruiting and retaining a diverse faculty is one of our top institutional initiatives. Shady Hill strives to increase the number of faculty of color to mirror the make-up of our student body. In 2019-20, 20% of faculty identify as faculty of color. 37% of students self-identify as students of color. This fall, Shady Hill will welcome its most diverse group of faculty and administrators in its history.

Why We Have Student Affinity Groups

The primary purpose of these short meetings has been and continues to be, to provide time and a safe space for children of shared affinities from different classrooms to come together in an environment where they make up the majority. We help all students understand the definition of affinity and explain that having these groups is not an act of intentional exclusion. These are voluntary meetings for children who identify with these affinities.

Affinity Groups are by no means the only time children discuss diverse, multicultural topics related to affinity. These themes are explored throughout our grades and our curriculum, and in-class discussions take place on a regular basis. 

Learn More About Our Student Affinity Groups
617.520.5260        178 Coolidge Hill    Cambridge MA 02138