Student Life

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Diversity Statement

At Westminster School, diversity encompasses respect, compassion, engagement and growth. Through diversity, we embrace intellectual curiosity, cultivate empathy for those around us, and seek courage to overcome whatever challenges we may face on our own or in support of others. We commit to diversity in education and provide programs that deepen cultural competency, expand global understanding, and foster a resilient and dynamic community.
 
Diversity builds and sustains us. Our community is an inclusive environment where people can share their stories and contribute their ideas. We encourage our students to be authentic, to feel inspired to learn from those different from them and to celebrate diversity and multiculturalism. At Westminster School, diversity includes, but is not limited to, race, ethnicity, cultural identity, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, physical ability and religious practice.
 
We firmly stand on the four pillars of our Core Values: Community, Character, Balance and Involvement. The success of each is dependent on the others and diversity strengthens them all.

Westminster Programs and Partnerships

Westminster’s commitment to diversity in education drives its support for programs that foster global awareness and encourages students to experience cultural immersion.

Student Groups

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  • Alliance Groups

    Alliance Groupsare student-led and faculty-advised organizations that are open to the entire community. While they aim to develop friendship among students who are interested in exploring together and being curious with others, alliance groups focus on topics on diversity. Through scheduled discussions and schoolwide events, students develop spaces and learning environments intended to be empathetic, respectful and collaborative.
    • Multicultural Student Union
    • Gender & Sexuality Alliance
    • All As One Feminist Alliance
    • Jewnion
    • Conversations About Christianity
    • Westminster Latinx Alliance
  • Affinity Groups

    Affinity Groups follow the best practices outlined by the National Association of Independent Schools. Although we may claim multiple identities, affinity groups are designed to encourage interaction among participants who share a similar identity. Because students and faculty participants can speak from the “I” and “we” perspective, these spaces affirm lived experiences and generate fellowship and empowerment.
    • Black Affinity Group
    • The Gathering
    • Ladies of Color
    • Hispanic or Latinx Affinity
    • Asian/Pacific Islander Affinity
    • LGBTQ+ Affinity Group
  • Peer Facilitators

    Advised by the Director of Health Services and the Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Peer Facilitators are Fifth and Sixth Form leaders who provide and facilitate a supportive atmosphere for group discussions on health and wellness as well as on diversity and identity. They help lead the Fourth Form Health Curriculum sessions and small group discussions on equity and inclusion. In preparation for these conversations, they meet regularly with the Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for peer facilitator training.
  • Mentor-Mentee Program

    With help from the Admissions Office, the Fifth and Sixth Form co-heads match all students with a mentor or mentee. Specifically, all Third and Fourth Formers and new students are paired with Fifth and Sixth Formers. The co-heads encourage mentors to reach out to their mentees before the fall term, particularly if the assigned mentees are new to our community, while school wide activities promote mentor-mentee connections during the school year.

Academic Programs

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  • English

    Westminster’s English curriculum aims to help students to be aware of the inherent bias at the core of the self and to understand the complex and nuanced concepts associated with the narratives and histories of "Otherization": to understand the paradox that the subjective self and personal experience are vitally important and, simultaneously, veils that must be rent in order to approach the truths of lived experiences beyond one's ken. The English department's signature visiting writer program enhances our curricular offerings with the work of six contemporary writers during each academic year; in addition, the winter and spring elective offerings for Sixth Form present a choice of eight different areas of literary study; this broad range of authors and texts allows students to read and discuss works from a wide and diverse range of backgrounds.
  • History

    Above all, it is the goal of the History Department to provide a rich curriculum and to create a learning environment that encourages all Westminster students to see themselves in human history. Beginning with our Third Form Global History and Society course and continuing with Fourth Form Contemporary History, Fifth Form United States History, and our AP and other electives, the Department's curriculum introduces students to the human story in many ways.
     
    Students progressing through the core curriculum participate in a close examination of the world's cultures and peoples, including issues of economic and political development, social hierarchies, divisions and disparities, gender equity, religion, and environmental issues.
     
    • United States History is taught in a non-traditional format, without a formal textbook, and focuses on the use of primary and secondary sources and texts to encourage students to ask good questions and seek good answers based in historical scholarship about American history in all its successes, failures, and continuing challenges.
    • Our electives continue this effort to broaden the study of history to provide focus on those who have been marginalized.
    • Both AP European History and AP United States History place increasing emphasis on social history, including considering issues of gender, poverty, immigration, and identity.
    • AP Comparative Government takes a global perspective, covering the peoples and political systems of six very different countries from four continents.
    • AP Art History students study art from around the world and across thousands of years of human history.
    • History of the Forgotten, an elective course that has been part of the Westminster curriculum for over two decades, asks students to revisit their understanding of history and look much more closely at groups otherwise marginalized in traditional survey courses.
    • Moral Philosophy, another long-standing elective in the Department, challenges students to think about important questions of right and wrong and to apply their study of philosophy to real-world problems.

School-Wide Programs

List of 3 items.

  • Diversity Day

    Diversity Day is an all-day program set aside in January for dialogue and development on issues surrounding diversity. With student and faculty facilitators, our breakout sessions focus on a range of topics related to introspection and reflection, identity and connection, community and society, and history and the arts.

    Diversity Day 2020
    Diversity Day 2019
    Diveristy Day 2018
    Diveristy Day 2017
    Diversity Day 2016

  • The Chapel Program

    The Chapel Program is one of Westminster School’s oldest traditions that encompasses the Judeo-Christian tradition while embracing the world’s religions and philosophies. It offers time for reflection as students, faculty and guests share experiences through chapel talks or give musical performances. The program encourages members of the school community to think beyond themselves, to appreciate sacrifice and to be compassionate, sensitive and inclusive.

    To see the Black History Month Chapel from 2020, click here.
    To see the MLK Day Chapel from 2020, click here.
    To see Giovanni Hamilton's '19 Chapel Talk, click here.
    To see all of the Chapel Talks (listed by date), click here
  • Guest Speakers and Visiting Artist Series

    Our guest speakers and visiting artist series encourage our school community to engage in presentations related to the intersectionality of self-identities and social groups, the compassionate ways to connect with others to foster an inclusive community, and the powerful impact of words, actions and art in all its manifestations.

    Guest Speaker Poet Ross Gay 2020
    Guest Performers Cirque Mei 2019

Conferences for Students and Faculty

List of 3 items.

  • CAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference

    The mission of the CT-SDLC is to bring together students from grades seven through 12 and adults from independent schools across the state for a day of peer facilitated workshops rooted in cross-cultural understanding and a call to action to improve our school communities and our world.
  • NAIS People of Color Conference & Student Diversity Leadership Conference

    The NAIS People of Color Conference (PoCC) is the flagship of the National Association of Independent Schools’ commitment to equity and justice in teaching, learning and organizational development. The mission of the conference is to provide a safe space for leadership, professional development and networking for people of color and allies of all backgrounds in independent schools.

    The NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference is a multiracial, multicultural gathering of upper school student leaders (grades nine through 12) from across the U.S. and abroad. SDLC focuses on self-reflecting, forming allies and building community.
  • SPHERE Events

    SPHERE is a consortium of independent schools from the greater Hartford area that came together in the early 70s because of a common commitment to diversity, originally expressed through summer enrichment programs for students from the City of Hartford. Today, the mission of SPHERE is to encourage and assist member schools as they collaborate in sustaining diverse, inclusive and culturally responsive environments for teaching and learning. Member schools seek to foster a respect for difference and an understanding of multicultural perspectives in curricular and extracurricular programs.

Hartford Partnerships

List of 3 items.

  • Horizons at Westminster

    Horizons at Westminster students come from Hartford Public Schools for a six-week summer program — starting in first grade and returning every summer through eighth grade. This deep, long-term investment over eight summers is designed to serve the whole child — fostering academic and social development that benefits students, their families and the broader Hartford community.
  • Loaves and Fishes

    On the second Thursday of each month, this outreach effort draws on several constituents from the Westminster community — faculty, staff, parents and students — and sends a contingent to help serve lunch at Loaves and Fishes, a soup kitchen which assists the very neediest people of Hartford.
  • Spring Break in Hartford

    During a week in the month of March, the Spring Break in Hartford program seeks to extend its outreach further by lending a hand to various service organizations (like Loaves and Fishes) and schools in Hartford.

Admissions Outreach

List of 7 items.

  • A Better Chance

    Vision: To be the preeminent resource for identifying, recruiting and developing leaders among young people of color throughout the United States.

    Mission: To increase substantially the number of well-educated young people of color who are capable of assuming positions of responsibility and leadership in American society.

    Find out more about ABC, click here.
  • Harlem Lacrosse

    Harlem Lacrosse’s mission is to empower the children who are most at risk for academic decline and dropout to rise above their challenges and reach their full potential. Harlem Lacrosse inspires children to dream about tomorrow while working hard on the field and in the classroom.
  • Hartford Youth Scholars

    Hartford Youth Scholars (HYS) helps highly motivated Hartford students gain access to and graduate from best-fit high schools and colleges. The organization provides scholars and their families with academic and mentoring support for 10 or more years, beginning the summer before students enter seventh grade and continuing through college graduation.
  • NJ Seeds

    Founded in 1992, New Jersey SEEDS is a privately funded, statewide, nonprofit organization. The organization changes the lives of motivated, high-achieving students from low-income families by transforming their educational opportunities.
  • TEAK Fellowship

    TEAK is a free program that helps talented students from low-income families achieve their potential. Through intensive after school and summer classes, TEAK prepares middle school students to get into the nation’s most selective high schools and colleges. TEAK’s strong support system ensures that students thrive in their independent (day and boarding) high schools and graduate from college, ready to pursue their professional goals and positively impact the world.
  • Wight Foundation

    The Wight Foundation provides opportunities for talented students from the Greater Newark, New Jersey vicinity to achieve academic success and personal development in a college preparatory boarding school environment, with the intent to nurture future leaders who socially impact their local communities.
  • PREP Athletics

    PREP Athletics’ goal is to help high school basketball players find the right fitting prep school. A traditional high school might not be the right way to proceed for players wanting to play in college. The first reason for this is that some high school coaches don’t have the time or experience to help their players with the college recruiting process. Also, there are multiple AAU teams in each area that may or may not have these college connections. Prep schools, by contrast, offer opportunities for better competition, academics, exposure and overall growth. In short, prep schools are built to help get players better prepared and exposed to schools at the college level.

List of 1 members.

  • Photo of Lisa McGrath

    Lisa McGrath 

    Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
    (860) 408-3726

Equity and Inclusion Initiatives

List of 2 items.

  • Six Coalition Initiatives

    1. The Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, in coordination with other offices on campus, will facilitate and implement ongoing conversations about racial identity.

    2. Continue development and revision of the academic curriculum with a focus on cultural competence. In order to elevate the Black student experience holistically, implement specific efforts to address offensive and insensitive language and cultural references in literature, formal texts and supporting documents.

    3. Expand the Dean of Faculty Office to boost faculty recruitment efforts, diversify professional development opportunities, and assess and guide faculty sensitivity to the experience of Black students. 

    4. The Advancement Office will encourage financial support of DEI work during interactions with donors. Further, Advancement will develop strategies that more sensitively consider student comfort during interactions with alumni and other donors, whether in-person or through correspondence. Advancement will plan and schedule events specifically organized around Black alumni, both locally and beyond Williams Hill.

    5. The Admissions Office will increase outreach efforts, paying particular attention to engagement strategies with Black communities and families.
     
    6. Diversify the Health Center staff by seeking to add Black nurses and a Black consulting therapist.

    To see details related to these initiatives, click here
  • Recent Communications

Westminster at a Glance

List of 9 items.

  • 15%

    International Students  
  • 20%

    U.S. Students of Color
  • 10%

    Faculty of Color
    (Six are classroom teachers and four are school leaders.)
  • 47%/53%

    Male/Female Faculty
  • 25

    States Represented
  • 30

    Countries Represented
  • 50%/50%

    Boys/Girls in Student Body
  • $5.86 million

    Financial Aid Budget
  • 34%

    Students Receiving Financial Aid

Equity and Inclusion at Westminster — a Coalition of Westminster Faculty and Trustees

Contact Us

995 Hopmeadow Street
Simsbury, Connecticut 06070

P. (860) 408-3000
F. (860) 408 3001
Notice of Nondiscriminatory Policy as to Students
Westminster admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the School; and Westminster does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered program.
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