Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB)

What is DEIB?

In 2020 Hershey Montessori School took on the work of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging as a theme for the coming years, increasing professional development opportunities, community learning opportunities, and providing additional library and classroom resources. The DEIB Circle (“committee”) is comprised of administrative staff, faculty, and adolescent students.  As the school finalizes the strategic direction, DEIB will continue to be at the forefront of the work we do for many years to come.

Hershey Montessori School’s Position Statement for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

Dr. Maria Montessori, and many other scientists, espoused an educational philosophy that removes the obstacles for healthy development and that allows the student’s innate energies for good to develop in accordance with their natural capacity. She wrote and observed that such an education will reveal a “new child” who is intellectually independent and emotionally drawn to contribute to moral and social conditions of their environments. 

Hershey Montessori School has centered intentional focus on social-emotional development that expands emotional intelligence, communication skills, social leadership capacities with special emphasis on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB).  

We commit to continued exploration and discussion regarding unconscious bias, racism, LGBTQ+ community, and marginalized people. As a staff and school, we have had the opportunity to delve into advancing our awareness of how we create our identity, the difference between explicit and implicit bias, how to actively practice antiracism, the different types of racism, and restorative practices to name a few.  

We are committed to creating practices and environments that strengthen community connection, self-awareness, and to growing in social emotional intelligence so that we can be inclusive and create a place where all feel safe, represented, heard and valued.   

Montessori is a scientific approach to the conditions necessary for optimal human development and the social processes toward the advancement of humanity.   We recognize that our current social systems are out of alignment with these values. We strive to restore this integrity by intercepting the perpetuation of traumas with our values of DEIB and care for humanity. We are holding to Montessori practices of observation and questioning to catalyze the change needed for a more just society. We strive to design structures that equip us to respond to new information with a view to advancing empathy and advocacy for the needs of people who may not have voice or power.

DEIB Circle Vision

The vision of this circle is to steward intentional environments that are safe, inclusive and welcoming of diverse cultures, sexual and gender minorities, race, and religious beliefs for all students, staff and families who have come to Hershey to share its mission and values. Grounded in the work of Dr. Maria Montessori, our school environments and practices center on the value of contribution to human solidarity at developmentally relevant stages, and preparation of the child and adult for participation in community and the advancement of a more equitable humanity. We understand that interpersonal relationship, and contribution toward solidarity in community, is a fundamental need for optimal development from infancy through adulthood. Toward this end, the goal of this circle is to facilitate learning and advance processes to increase diversity,equity and inclusion in our school.  

The aims of the circle are to:

  1. Support the whole community with deepening self-awareness, information and skills to have empathetic dialogue about diversity, equity and inclusion. The first focus will be to prepare ourselves as adults for effectively bringing this work to our children.Offer information, resources and engagement that deepens curiosity and understanding of the needs of others.
  2. Offer explicit awareness opportunities about racism and systems of oppression
  3. Ensure our school’s awareness and regular assessment of the safety and inclusion of all its members; and provide guidance to individuals or groups in our school who have unmet needs around DEIB

Meet the DEIB Circle Members

Lakisha Wingard, Director of Admissions and DEIB Circle Coordinator
Paula Leigh-Doyle, Head of School
Julie Loxterman, Development Coordinator
Judy Kline Venaleck, Associate Head of School and Huntsburg Campus Director
Zaynab Olin Twaddell, Young Child Community and Children’s House Support Coordinator


DEIB Events, Workshops, and Professional Development Activities

2020-2021 Antiracist Initiative Adolescent Student Group

January 2021: Professional Development Workshop with Sage and Maven, “Unconscious Bias and Who Do We Want to Be?”

April 2021: Morning Coffee with Head of School Paula Leigh-Doyle and Dr. Vanessa Jensen: Understanding Gender Identity in Children and Adolescents

May 2021: Panel Discussion and Conversation, Gender Identity in Children and Adolescents Part II with panelists Lucy McNees, Class of 2021; Dr. Vanessa Jensen, Clinical/Pediatric Psychologist, Board Certified Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychologist at Cleveland Clinic Children’s and Treasurer of the Geauga County SOGI Support Network; and Gulnar Feerasta, Director of Programs at The LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland and Board Member of LGBTQ+ Allies Lake County.