Update on Steps Toward Racial Justice at Catlin Gabel


July 24, 2020

Dear Catlin Gabel Community,

Since our communication on June 9, when we shared our commitment to creating a truly inclusive and welcoming culture for our Black students, employees, and parents as well as other communities of color, we’ve started to make structural changes that address systemic racism at our school. As we expressed in that communication, “we know it’s time to reflect, act, and make changes that are overdue and that our students deserve.”

We are grateful to Catlin Gabel’s Black Parents Affinity Group and TRIBE (Black student affinity group), and the many students, alumni, and colleagues who stepped forward to share with us (via email, in person, and on social media) their stories, experiences, and requests. We acknowledge as an institution the lived experiences of inequity expressed by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in our school community, and we commit ourselves to doing the work to make meaningful change.

The Board, administration, faculty, staff, Parent Faculty Association, and Student Association join together in a pledge to do all we can to become an antiracist institution and provide equity of opportunity and experience, as well as safety and a sense of belonging for all. To that end, we are sharing this update on steps we have taken so far and further changes we will pursue in the months ahead.

Action steps to date:

  • Formed an antiracism work group composed of our Inclusion and Outreach office team, teachers, staff, and the Head and Assistant Head to work this summer to develop antiracism initiatives that we will pursue in the 2020-21 school year.
  • Revised employee and family handbook policies regarding race-related non-negotiable language and behaviors, including consequences and accountability.
  • Expanded reporting language in school handbook to include racism and other forms of discrimination.
  • Funded antiracism curriculum design classes and workshops for teachers.
  • Appointed Erica Babino as Assistant Director of Inclusion and Outreach. One of her primary responsibilities will be recruiting outreach and retention strategies for BIPOC teachers.
  • Charged the Board of Trustees Inclusion and Diversity Committee (trustees, administrators, parents, and students) and the Diversity Action Council (employees, parents, and students) with leading our school’s antiracism work in 2020-21.

Action steps underway this summer/fall:

  • Drafting a Vision for Catlin Gabel as an antiracist institution, and asking students, families, and employees to commit to realizing this vision.
  • Providing teachers with guidance for academic curriculum and classroom discourse regarding race-related historically oppressive words.
  • Identifying and addressing the impediments to increasing the enrollment of Black and other underrepresented students. 
  • Creating antiracist curriculum guidelines and expectations across grades and departments.
  • Funding and developing ongoing cultural responsivity, antiracism, and white privilege teacher training programs.
  • Auditing our vendor list and creating a new policy to increase investment in BIPOC-owned businesses.

Additional steps:

  • Develop an Annual Report to the Community on progress toward becoming an antiracist institution.
  • Develop new systems to collect and track student data related to social identity to identify potential and hidden systemic inequities.
  • Conduct a school culture analysis—traditions, symbols, language, etc.
  • Audit school curriculum for inclusion of BIPOC histories and implicit biases in curriculum selection.

As we define our vision for what a more equitable and inclusive community, curriculum, and culture looks like at Catlin Gabel School and put into action tangible changes to support this vision, we continue to invite your feedback by emailing us at hos@catlin.edu regarding our plans and intentions. This work is not the responsibility of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in our community; it must be work that each of us embraces and pursues, and it must be sustained. This is the only way we can ensure that the mission and values to which we aspire hold true for everyone who is a part of this educational community.

We will share more updates on our efforts in September. Until then, we welcome your input, appreciate your support, and encourage you to join us in this important antiracist work.

In partnership,
Indira Nallakrishnan
Chair, Board of Trustees        
Tim Bazemore
Head of School