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Community Leadership

Building an ABAR community is a shared endeavor among all employees at Westtown. We are guided and nurtured in this important work by many leaders who are dedicated to our growth and betterment, and to realizing our goals together. 

Equity and Inclusion Specialist
Marissa Colston

It is truly a joy to be able to lead Westtown in becoming an Anti-Racist Anti-Bias community. I care deeply about creating a sense of belonging for all community members.

I work closely with the principals of each division in support of curricular changes and development. I also lead employees in professional development to support growth in ABAR community work. I connect with parents and families to lead workshops and collaborate with Westtown parent organizations to sponsor events that bring our diverse community together for learning and community building. When community members experience an incident of bias or discrimination, I help ensure that they receive support and due process. I work with our Human Resources office and other school administrators on follow up and education for students and employees after a bias incident. I also have a wonderful team of Equity and Inclusion coordinators that support this work in each division of the school. I work closely with them to ensure that students in each division are supported and that all of our programs and classes are aligned with our strategic goals for creating an ABAR community.

 

Dean of Access and Equity
Jay Farrow ’75

I am so appreciative of the school's ABAR vision and objectives. I enjoy my role as Dean of Access and Equity because it enables me to be a significant and tangible resource to high financial need students, regardless of race or ethnicity.

I came to Westtown School as a student in the early 70s from an access organization. I was very appreciative of the opportunity to be invited into the school community, but to be honest, I struggled, silently, to be a full participant. I also had difficulty gaining a real sense of belonging due to the very small number of "people like me" and my inability to fully engage in school programming due to my very limited financial means. The lack of BIPOC faculty and administrators also contributed to my feeling further silenced and marginalized at school. These days, I am so appreciative of the school's ABAR vision and objectives. I enjoy my role as Dean of Access and Equity because it enables me to be a significant and tangible resource to high financial need students, regardless of race or ethnicity. In my position, I also have the pleasure of developing positive relationships with a number of access organizations as I work to invite their applicants into our community.

Equity and Inclusion Coordinators

The Equity and Inclusion Coordinators in each division work to advance meaningful and intentional anti-bias, anti-racist intiatives in their divisions. They work in collaboration with the principals and the Dean of Diversity and Inclusion. These coordinators serve as liaisons for faculty and staff of their divisions, and take leadership roles in facilitating professional development and supporting curriculum development. They help foster positive, growth-oriented environments in which to explore topics of equity and inclusion, identity development, implicit bias and privilege, and cultural competency.

Celeste Payne

Upper School Equity and Inclusion Coordinator

Throughout my career in independent schools, I have been deeply committed both in word and deed to social justice.  Compatible with Westtown’s strategic vision, equity and inclusion work is an essential part of and a central role in my own personal mission as well as my own identity as an individual human being, as a teacher, as a DEI practitioner, and as a social justice educator.

I am a lifelong learner, one who continues to be actively engaged in personal and professional development in ABAR as a member of the MCRC@ADVIS Program Advisory Committee in our local region and the Teaching Tolerance Advisory Board on the national level. 

In an effort to work towards becoming an ABAR community, I recognize that we must shift teaching pedagogy, school cultures, and individual and shared mindsets with a long-term goal of embedding ABAR within Westtown’s culture.  As the Upper School Equity & Inclusion Coordinator, I serve as an ABAR change agent both in leadership of and in partnership with other Upper School community members.

 

Kelly Yiadom

Lower and Middle School Equity and Inclusion Coordinator

My role as Equity and Inclusion Coordinator has been a fulfilling one in multiple ways. Firstly, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with different faculty and staff members, support Westtown educators with their ABAR, equity and inclusion goals, develop student programming, connect with different BIPOC students, and support the leads for Families of Multicultural Community. I regularly meet with the Lower School principal and Dean of Diversity to provide updates surrounding my work, and I also meet with the Middle and Upper School Equity and Inclusion Coordinators to discuss ideas and ways to support BIPOC students. I create meeting spaces for Lower School Westtown faculty and staff to share their ideas of equity and inclusion implementation and, as a member of the Student Support Team, conversations regarding maintaining culturally responsive approaches to learning are constantly occurring. I have worked closely with the school psychologist to develop a themed curriculum that aims to provide a foundation for Pre-K through 5th graders having common language and engaging in ABAR work. Students can further their understanding of and action to support this work in one of three newly formed 4th and 5th grade affinity groups: BIPOC, LGBTQ+ & Allies, and White Upstanders. My work ultimately lies in supporting cultural shifts at Westtown that will create a consciousness and action-oriented approach to ABAR work.

Staff Equity and Inclusion Representatives

Because our ABAR community building is school wide, we have a group of non-faculty staff equity and inclusion representatives. This group works to support the school’s ABAR goals and to ensure all voices in our adult community are included. They are members of the three-divisional diversity team. These representatives participate in all-school programming involving DEI issues and professional development, monitor the climate of race and ethnicity in staff departments, and facilitate addressing associated needs.

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