Page 18 - FIS World June 2021
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Looking Within
A virtual Discovery Summit explores important topics
 The Discovery Summit for Equity, Justice and Belonging sought to include voices from all FIS community members with the goal of ensuring that the school is a place where all members feel they belong.
The school’s Equity, Justice and Belonging (EJB) initiative took another step forward this spring with the Discovery Summit, an online event that
brought together groups of FIS community members to explore various aspects of the school through the lens of Equity, Justice and Belonging.
Equity, Justice and Belonging is one of the school’s nine strategic initiatives, and an evolution of the Global Awareness strategic initiative that first became part of the strategic plan in 2018. The original focus was to expand international mindedness across the FIS community. World events, as well as conversations within our community, prompted us to look more deeply into what it means to be an international school and to investigate the experiences of our community members more intentionally, with the aim of further developing our internationally minded community into one in which everyone feels they belong.
This includes developing our community's understanding of the impact of real or perceived stereotypes relating to (but not limited to) gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, nationality, disability, family structure, and economic diversity. It is also about providing opportunities for students to explore their own personal, linguistic and cultural identities, and taking action to address issues of social justice more explicitly, both locally and globally.
One key part of the EJB work this year has been to select and utilize a data collection tool to gather perspectives, inputs and experiences from community members. It was a challenge to find a tool that perfectly suits our community given our context and community composition. The National Association of Independent Schools Assessment of
Inclusivity and Multiculturalism (AIM) was ultimately selected because it met a number of criteria, including the provision of qualitative and quantitative data, the involvement of all major stakeholder groups, data privacy (GDPR) compliance, and its proven track record over ten years.
On 25 March, over 100 community members, including parents, teachers, students, staff, alumni, administrators and board members, met on Zoom for the first part of the AIM process, the Discovery Summit. In the weeks leading up to the event, 10 facilitators and 10 notetakers underwent training for how to lead each group in meaningful and productive conversations around topics that may not have been explicitly explored before at FIS. Consultant, speaker and author Elizabeth Schroeder, a long-time collaborator with FIS, gave guidance to the facilitators for setting group norms, maintaining the flow of the conversation, and navigating the challenging moments that may have arisen.
The opportunity to share and speak openly about issues of equity, diversity and inclusion, and how these connect with different dimensions of the school from admissions to alumni to curriculum and parental engagement was a powerful way of bringing more voices into the work of the EJB initiative.
After the three-hour event, participants from each of the ten groups reported feeling exhausted, but their feedback was overwhelmingly positive. We had a really rich, open discussion,” said one parent participant. “It’s an absolute pleasure to know what this event strived to achieve. I was apprehensive about attending but I am so glad I did,”added another.
Notetakers produced a written summary of conversations within their groups and these will be compiled into a final report that includes both the Discovery Summit findings and data from an online Climate Survey, which was sent to all FIS community members aged nine and older in April. The findings from the AIM process will be used to generate future actions across dimensions of school life to support and enhance Equity, Justice and Belonging at FIS as part of the school’s strategic plan. These will be presented to the community during the 2021/2022 academic year, along with information about how to get involved. In the meantime, any community member can connect with the Equity, Justice and Belonging team by emailing
Leila Holmyard FIS Parent
16 FIS World June 2021

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