Any student who emerges into our culturally diverse society speaking only one language and with a mono-cultural perspective on the world can legitimately be considered educationally ill prepared. —  Sonia Nieto

Our Philosophy About Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

At Gateway School, we recognize that an education rich in the practice of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is essential for students to thrive in a multicultural world. We believe that this work is a necessity and that it is not optional. As we move towards Cultural Proficiency, a model for shifting the culture of a school through individual transformation and organizational change, our goal is to promote the viewpoint that cultural difference is an asset.

We are committed to promoting inclusion, embracing diversity and engaging in social justice work. We recognize that these efforts are complex and ongoing. We are committed to the guiding principles of actively questioning our own biases, promoting educational experiences and conversations that deepen our understanding of social justice, and honoring our authentic selves and those of others in safety and respect. 

You really can change the world if you care enough. — Maya Angelou

How we do this work

We understand culture to be a lived experience that is unique to each individual. Cultural differences are all the ways our lived experiences are different. This relates to our skin color, the religion we choose to practice, the way our brain learns, the shape and size of our body, the values we learn in our homes, our gender, our sexuality, and our age, to name a few examples. At Gateway School we are committed to creating and advocating for an environment that serves the needs of all cultures. 

Our faculty, staff, students and families pursue personal and institutional change through multiple pathways:

  1. Actively questioning our own biases
  2. Examining our individual and group barriers to change
  3. Devising a system of language that describes healthy practices and behaviors
  4. Utilizing behavior standards that measure our growth towards Cultural Proficiency

Our DEI Coordinator and the DEI Faculty Committee work individually and collectively to help our faculty and staff with this work. Our goals for students are multi-faceted:

  1. Students will learn to challenge, confront, and disrupt misconceptions, untruths and stereotypes that lead to inequality and discrimination based on cultural differences.
  2. Students will be given and utilize resources necessary to learn to their full potential.
  3. Students will learn in an environment that promotes critical thinking and agency for social change.

Our seventh grade students have been exploring acts of resistance and learning about Freedom Quilts – quilts of the Underground Railroad. In this spirit, one of our seventh grade classes made this “quilt” from fabric and card stock. The guiding principle was to honor those who had to risk their lives for freedom and to reflect upon how we resist injustice in our lives today.

Examples of our DEI work in action

>In 2019, all staff were trained by Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Each participant learned to:

  • Incorporate the Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards to create and sustain classroom and school environments that honor diversity, equity and justice.
  • Speak up—and teach students to speak up—against bias and injustice.
  • Build a collaborative and respectful learning community with a diverse group of learners and educators.

>In 2017, all staff were trained by Gender Spectrum to understand the Dimensions of Gender. We learned:

  • The full complexity of gender identity, and why dominant binary model is flawed.
  • How to reduce our unconsciously gendered language to promote inclusive environments.
  • How to implement gender support plans that create shared understanding about the ways in which a student’s authentic gender can be accounted for and supported at school.
Gateway School was invited to partner with local design shop Stripe to fill their window display. Students were asked “what does love mean to you?” and designed a shape and simple word or phrase to represent their ideas.
Students worked in the Gateway School Discovery Center with Technology Specialist Krissie Olson to create a unique piece of art. They first sketched their designs, then designed them digitally using Zotebook and Adobe Illustrator to turn their drawings into vector graphics, and finally used Gateway’s laser cutter to cut the shapes out of poster board.

Culture is a problem-solving resource we need to draw on, not a problem to be solved. – Terry Cross