Portledge’s mission to provide a competitive college preparatory program in a warm, inclusive community is only realized if every single student experiences a sense of belonging throughout their tenure at our school. When a school makes a true commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, all students are centered in the learning process and all school policies, instructional practices, and extracurricular activities are created, developed, and implemented to meet the needs of each student where they are and where they want to go.
At Portledge, diversity is most certainly reflected in the different races, ethnicities, religions, and geographic backgrounds of our student body. However, the diversity we strive for goes beyond common cultural identifiers. We have realized our mission when each student’s individual identity is validated and celebrated in and outside of the classroom and when we intentionally and consistently elevate students who may feel marginalized, including our students of color, students with disabilities, English language learners, students who identify as non-binary and our LGBTQ+ students.
At Portledge, we provide students with high-quality instruction, top-notch arts, and athletic programs, and a variety of community and travel programs that emphasize the Portledge Pillars of kindness, purpose, honor, and respect. That is our vision and we execute on it every day. Yet, our vision is not fully actualized unless we also look at the individualized needs of our students and then meet those needs in an equitable way. We recognize that different students require different supports academically, socially-emotionally, and financially.
At Portledge, that sense of belonging is everything and it is such a personal feeling. It is about acceptance, safety, and being a valued member of the community. An inclusive school environment is defined by the student experience. Every administrator, teacher, and coach at Portledge is responsible for cultivating that inclusivity through purposeful student engagement and in response to ongoing student feedback. We have begun to do this through the creation of multicultural clubs, affinity groups, and faculty/staff development in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We have begun to do this through the integration of a more culturally relevant curriculum and responsive teaching in the classroom. We have begun to do this by engaging our larger community in this work through our Board DEI committee and Parent Association DEI book club and training.
As the Director of DEI, I work collaboratively with the Board, faculty, staff, students, and families of Portledge to further the school’s mission and vision. Together, we must approach this challenging and necessary work with open minds, meaningful conversations, and a shared understanding that all Portledge students benefit from and deserve a learning environment that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
Traci L Douglas
Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion