About Us

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Severn

Words and Action

Every Severn student deserves to feel a sense of belonging, to be acknowledged, affirmed, and celebrated for each aspect of their identity — gender, religion, ethnicity, culture, race, learning ability, physical ability, and more. But acknowledging and celebrating isn’t enough. We must also advocate for our students and empower them to advocate for themselves, and others, to cultivate a community of understanding, mutual respect, and social responsibility. We recognize that we have only just begun this work. But in both words and action, we are committed to ongoing change.

Inclusivity Vision

Severn aspires to be an inclusive community where each person is welcomed and affirmed. We find strength and value in our similarities and differences thereby inspiring students and adults to participate in and sustain a vibrant exchange of ideas and perspectives. In designing thoughtful programs and practices, we will broaden a culture of belonging and respect and an appreciation for the complexities within ourselves and others, and foster the desire to participate in a dynamic, global society.

Click here for our current Strategic Plan.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiative

List of 2 items.

  • Near-Term Actions

    • Create a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Team as a subcommittee of the Board, composed of Trustees, Admin, faculty, parents, and alumni that will critically examine our policies, practices and processes, recommend changes and develop goals and success metrics. Constitution of the committee will be completed by September 1, 2020 with the work of the committee ongoing.
    • Hire a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Director who will serve as a contributing member of the Executive Admin team and ex-officio member of the Board of Trustees.  The DEI Director will report to the Head of School and Chair, DEI Board subcommittee. To be completed by September 1, 2020.
    • Clearly communicate ways for students to report racist and/or discriminatory incidents and make the disciplinary process specific, actionable and age appropriate. To be completed by September 1, 2020. 
    • Establish and promote affinity groups to enhance students’ care and support and to better educate the entire community. To be completed by September 1, 2020.
    • Permanently change the title of Headmaster to Head of School in Severn School’s documents of incorporation, effective immediately.
    • Allocate additional resources to train Board of Trustees, faculty and staff in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work, to include implicit bias and cultural competencies.  To be funded by September 1, 2020 with work ongoing.
    • Allocate additional resources to expand Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programming for students, including a systemic review of the preschool through grade 12 curriculum.  To be funded by September 1, 2020 with work ongoing.
  • Longer-term and Ongoing Actions

    • Increase Severn’s student diversity by identifying admission strategies that will improve outreach to students of color, and with a focus on increasing Black student enrollment. 
    • Increase racial diversity of Severn’s Board, administration and faculty through an examination of our processes to identify success and failures, and using that information to inform an intentional strategy to recruit, support and retain minority candidates. 
    • Expand the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion goals and initiatives in the current strategic planning process, incorporate metrics and report on our process, to ensure actions are sustained.

For Our Teachers

We are a community of learners. And as adults, it is our responsibility to model the qualities we wish to see in our students. To that end, we support our faculty with consistent professional development, both on and off-campus. Our teachers are the heart of Severn School. Their leadership in the classroom is key to creating an environment where each student has equitable opportunity to realize their full potential.

Past and Ongoing Professional Development

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  • Off-Campus Conferences and Training

    Below are some of the professional development opportunities for our teachers in the past 5 years: 
    • AIMS Inclusivity Conference
    • World Artists Experiences: Arab Cultural Immersion Experience
    • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Conference
    • Equity Design Lab on Culturally Responsive Teaching
    • Harvard Culturally Responsive Literature Instruction Program
    • Institute for Teaching Diversity and Social Justice: Talking About Race with Children
    • NAIS Inclusive Schools Network Institute
    • NAIS People of Color Conference
    • Orton Gillingham Conference
    • Pollyanna Racial Literacy Curriculum’s "From Diversity to Community" Conference
    • AIMS Gender & Sexual Orientation Conference: Making Schools Safe
    • AIMS Talking About Race with Our Students and Each Other
  • On-Campus Conferences and Training

    Below are some of the professional development opportunities for our teachers in the past 5 years: 
    • Severn Summer Institute Inclusivity Sessions
    • NAIS Equity Workshop
    • AIMS Birds of a Feather: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
    • AIMS Navigating Challenging Conversations
    • AIMS Diversity Conference hosted annually at Severn
    • Faculty Inclusion and Collaboration Training with Charles Belo
    • Workshop with Jennifer Bryan Ph.D. on learning to communicate about issues of gender, sexuality, and diversity 
 

For Our Students

Students come to us from many different backgrounds and with varying life experiences. Every student will experience their time at Severn in a different way. Our goal is to listen to and value each student for who they are and who they want to become while preparing them to be respectful, compassionate, and thoughtful adults. We commit to developing course curricula that incorporate diverse perspectives, materials, and experiences in and out of the classroom. We offer programs to foster an appreciation of different cultures, combat bias, and promote genuine understanding and acceptance of others. And we help our students develop leadership, critical thinking, and communication skills to engage meaningfully and responsibly in our community and the world beyond our doors.

Antiracism Library Collection

Our libraries endeavor to foster the love of reading and lifelong learning by maintaining a robust collection that caters to diverse backgrounds, perspectives, interests, and opinions. The Antiracism Collection (created by our Teel Campus librarians) includes a wide range of books; some are explicitly about racism and some are about the history that has brought us here. But many are just great stories by Black authors, in every genre. View the collection online here.

Lower School

List of 4 items.

  • In the Classroom

    Our Lower School has developed a strategy to create intentional and meaningful learning opportunities that promote inclusivity at every grade and developmental level. This approach includes things like:
    • Investigating how gender is represented in our world. For example, 5th graders read literature with themes from Sudan, Guatemala, Vietnam, Russia, Oman, and Brazil and discuss traditional gender roles in those countries. 2nd graders discuss whether stores should sort and display toys as "toys for girls" and "toys for boys" in their entrepreneur unit.
    • Examining race and identity in different contexts. For example, prekindergarten students read The Skin You're In, The Colors of Us, and Shades of People, and create self portraits, mixing paint to create their unique shade of skin. 4th graders use primary source photographs and articles to compare the experiences of immigrants coming to Ellis Island (with larger number of people from Western European countries) and Angel Island (with larger number of people from Asian countries). 
    We also implemented the Pollyanna Racial Literacy Curriculum in 2019 to foster positive understandings about race and culture in our Lower School community. Through this ongoing work, our teachers help students make natural connections to an array of perspectives and experiences.
  • Arts and Culture Programs

    We schedule assemblies and programs throughout each year for students to learn about different cultures. Recent presentations include:
    • Musician in Residence Kevin Martin of Rockcreek Steel Drums gave a presentation on the history and musical traditions of Trinidad followed by a week-long workshop for students to practice and perform steel drum music for our community.
    • We hosted Into the Great Unknown, an educational tour from The Smithsonian Institution's Discovery Theater featuring Black explorers throughout history and today.
    For more, check out the Birney Appreciating Differences Program and the Elizabeth Wegner Musician in Residence Program.
  • Open Doors and Heartstrings

    Open Doors is a program designed to educate students about diversity and inclusivity. It is geared toward fostering an appreciation of others — how we are different from one another and how we are similar. The ultimate goal is to reflect upon barriers that people create based on these differences. Teacher Ms. Spears creates thoughtful lessons, incorporating a diverse selection of literature and resources, for students to openly discuss their thoughts in a safe environment.

    In Heartstrings, students develop strategies to deal with academic and emotional challenges, to manage their own learning, and to help their peers. With counselor Ms. Karin Mitchell, students work through lessons to develop empathy and problem-solving skills, and to learn how to handle difficult emotions. This social-emotional curriculum strengthens social responsibility by building a foundation of understanding and respect for others.
  • Updated Library Collection

    Using strategies from the ALA program, “Evaluating, Auditing and Diversifying Your Collections,” Ms. Kristen Kwisnek conducted a library audit and updated the collection with a more robust selection of diverse texts to support inclusive instruction.

Middle School

List of 3 items.

  • In the Classroom

    In our Middle School, we use diverse literature and engage in meaningful class discussions to examine our shared human experience and highlight a broad spectrum of voices throughout history and today. Examples include:
    • In the multidisciplinary unit, "The Breadwinner," 6th graders explore the history and culture of Afghanistan through the perspective of young Afghani girl. They learn that culture and identity are a combination of many elements — from history, climate, and economics to personal perspectives and relationships.
    • Every 8th grader crafts and delivers a speech to raise awareness about local and global issues in society. This is a chance for students to practice research-based advocacy while sharing personal connections with their peers.
    • Identity, Diversity, Equity, and Action at Severn (I.D.E.A.S.). This required class for 6th graders navigates historical perspectives on race, culture, and inequity in the U.S. through the lens of groups and individuals whose stories have been hidden throughout history.
  • Community Life Day

    Community Life Day challenges middle schoolers to think about what it means to be part of a world community. They explore everything from self-identity and positivity to understanding others and equity. The student-led Community Life Committee plans the event each year which mimicks a mini-conference with rotating workshop sessions. Past workshop sessions include:
    • Gender and Sexual Identity
    • Illustrate Your Equality
    • Culture Equality
    • Inside Out Self Portrait
    • Empathy
  • Conferences and Workshops

    Strong leadership stems from listening to the needs of your community, including as many voices as possible, and empowering others to do their best. In addition to work in the classroom, middle schoolers can develop these skills in Student Council, Community Life Committee, and by attending conferences with peers from local area schools. Past conferences include:
    • Be Seen. Be Heard: A Middle School Diversity Conference
    • Middle School Leadership Summit in Baltimore

Upper School

List of 5 items.

  • In the Classroom

    We are dedicated to developing classes that encourage our students to view the world from multiple perspectives and gain a broader understanding of history. We also offer seminars for Upper School students to develop characteristics of emotional intelligence including self-awareness and regulation, empathy, social communication, and more. Current Upper School classes include:
    • African American Voices in Literature
    • The Immigrant Experience in America
    • Women in American Literature
    • Freedom and Identity in LGBTQ Literature
    • Literature of Oppression and Reslience
    • The Modern Middle East
    • The Harlem Renaissance (multidiscliplinary)
    • Sophomore through Junior Seminars: "Getting to Know Myself" and "Getting to Know Others"
  • Conferences, Workshops, and Speakers

    Upper School students and faculty attend and present at conferences each year, often bringing valuable lessons home to Severn. Annually, we also organize three leadership labs in which students gather for discussions and workshops on effective community leadership. Many student-led advocacy initiatives are informed by skills they learn at these events. 

    Past conferences include:
    • Baltimore Student Diversity Leadership Conference
    • National Student Diversity Leadership Conference
    • AIMS Diversity in the DMV Conference
    • Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network Youth Summit
    • AIMS Gender & Sexual Orientation Conference: Making Schools Safe
    • GDS Summit on Sexual Assault and Consent
    • Amnesty International Regional Conference
    • Lessons of the Shoah
    Past speakers include:
    • Inclusion and collaboration consultant, trustee, and former Severn parent, Charles Belo spoke to our students about perceptions, triggers, and bias. 
    • Best-selling author and educator Julie Lythcott Haims presented a talk on Real American, her memoir about being Black and biracial growing up in White spaces.
  • Multicultural & International Night

    Each year starting in 2014, our Upper School hosts an evening to celebrate and share our home traditions and multicultural backgrounds with food, activities, music, and performances from students, families, and teachers.
  • Student-Led Activities and Clubs

    Throughout the year, clubs host events to drive support for their causes and promote allyship in our community such as United Spectrum's "Day of US" and "Day of Silence" and SWAG's annual Period drive.
    • Gay-Straight Alliance
    • Faces of Severn
    • United Spectrum
    • Language Clubs
    • Multicultural Alliance
    • Model UN
    • Supporting Women Across the Globe (SWAG)
    • Student Diversity Leadership Club
    • Umbrella Club
  • Unity Day

    There’s a growing interest among our students in learning advocacy and leadership strategies through healthy discourse and community-building activities. This annual full-day conference, created and led by our students, is one stop along a continuum of inclusion and social awareness work at Severn. The conferences include workshops developed by students on global and local issues, a keynote speaker, and reflection activities. This event evolved from previous student-led workshops and presentations on inclusivity in celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Past Unity Day topics include:
    • Civil Discourse in Modern America
    • Feminism: What Is It?
    • Finding Common Ground: Discussing Politics Without Hysteria
    • Hidden Biases and the LGBTQIA+ Community
    • How to be an Ally
    • Intersectionality
    • Know Your Power: Understanding Voter Suppression
    • LGBTQIA+ in the Media
    • #metoo
    • The Minority Experience
    • Prison Reform Today
    • and more

Lower School

Preschool-Grade 5
Chesapeake Campus
1185 Baltimore Annapolis Blvd
Arnold, MD 21012
410-647-7700

Middle/Upper School

Grade 6-12
Teel Campus
Severna Park, MD 21146
410-647-7700