A Serious Look at Groton Diversity

With the leadership of Headmaster Rick Commons and a faculty Diversity Committee, Groton has launched a broad diversity initiative to better understand the experience of Groton students, faculty, and staff and to recognize areas in which the School can improve the experience for all members of the community.

After considering several diversity consultants, Groton has hired Paul Gorski and his company, EdChange, which recently did diversity-related work for St. Paul’s School and Phillips Exeter Academy. Gorski uses a two-step evaluation process—quantitative and qualitative. The quantitative portion, a survey, was sent to all Groton students, faculty, and staff on Tuesday, May 22. Each group received a survey customized to its needs. A parent survey is planned for this fall.

To emphasize the importance of this initiative, and of the survey, Rick delivered a personal message about the effort to faculty and students in Chapel on Tuesday morning, and afterward spoke to staff in a special meeting.

The qualitative portion of EdChange’s work will begin next fall, October 3-6, when Gorski will bring a four-person team to campus to conduct focus groups and observe life on the Circle. A “working group” of faculty members and one trustee is helping to facilitate Gorski’s work with the Groton community. The School expects a detailed report in January outlining Groton’s strengths and weaknesses in terms of equity, inclusivity, and support for diversity—as well as suggested changes, modifications, and initiatives to address any identified weaknesses.

Groton’s Diversity Committee crafted the following mission statement: “We describe ours as a ‘diverse and intimate’ community, valuing diversity and intimacy explicitly in our mission statement. In our admission efforts we seek to enhance our diversity. However, at faculty, student, and administrative levels a clear understanding of what we mean by ‘diversity’ is not shared—and the matter of why we value it (or aim to value it) is not universally understood and therefore accepted. The goal of this work is to create a community in which every person feels welcomed, valued and respected. We believe that the successful work of this committee—in concert with the larger community—will enable Groton School to fulfill its mission more robustly and sincerely. Moreover, we believe that this work will render our personal, educational, and professional experiences more joyful and rewarding, as the embracing of our diversity strengthens our intimacy as a community.”

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