Diversity and Inclusion
Our Diversity and Inclusion Mission Statement:
Montessori School of Durham welcomes a diverse, inclusive community and celebrates the uniqueness of all of its members as part of our hope for a peaceful world.
We, as a community, are engaging in an anti-racism journey and urge you to walk that path us. Our staff continue their professional growth by developing awareness of implicit bias and promoting anti-bias educational practices. We seek to learn more about how to support marginalized communities. We organize parent education events that focus on talking with our children about race and ethnicity. We intentionally seek to recruit diverse candidates for job openings.
When we describe the diversity that we experience at MSD, we're not just referring to race or ethnicity. Our community is proud of our diverse global influences, family structures, and array of world religions and spiritual ideologies. And yes, we even welcome both Duke and UNC fans. Diversity for us is not about a single number, but a dynamic experience of rich interactions among our students, faculty, staff, and families in the classroom, on the playground, and at organized school events. It's also an aspect of our school that we are committed to nurturing and growing in meaningful ways.
All are welcomed. All are valued.
This page offers a current snapshot of the unique atmosphere within which our students learn about each other, their community, and the world.
MSD Demographics and Other Markers of Diversity
- Many of our families speaks at least one language in addition to English at home;
- Almost half of our community has lived abroad, representing approximately 40 countries;
- Family structures vary, including dual-parent, adoptive, multi-generational, single-parent, same-sex parents, and two household;
- Numerous religions and spiritual practices are observed by our students’ families including Agnosticism, Baha'i, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism
- The majority of families work in Durham or the Research Triangle Park;
- Afternoon child care needs are met through MSD’s After School care, grandparents/ family, nannies, after school enrichment programs, and flexible work schedules;
- Nearly all of our families actively volunteer by supporting teacher's classroom needs, planning school events, and serving on school committees, including the Parents Association and Diversity Committee;
- 84% of our families live in Durham, 9% in Chapel Hill, and 7% in surrounding areas.
Our Diversity and Inclusion Committee
Montessori School of Durham’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee works with the Head of School each year on various topics related to retention, recruitment, and other business. The committee also organizes Parent Affinity Groups and sponsors educational events to support the community. Contact Julie Barnes or Sarah Kate Fishback, via email with questions or for more information.
Annual Diversity and Inclusion Symposium
This annual Parent Education event features MSD parents who have led sessions on Race, Immigration, Social Justice, Diversity in Children's Literature, Anxiety, Learning Styles, LGBTQ inclusion, etc. This event was organized and facilitated by the Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
Community Conversations is an initiative of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee at MSD. The goal is to create a space for conversations on topics salient to the community and to come together to share our experiences and knowledge in order to support each other as parents, caregivers, and educators. This fall, the conversation will focus on media use and its impact.
Our Parent Affinity Groups
Affinity Group work provides a safe space for all participants to identify salient issues and common concerns through dialogue, using our individual voices to bring about affirmation, fellowship, connection, and empowerment. Some common goals of affinity groups include:
– discussing issues related to racial/ethnic/cultural identity development;
– providing a safe environment where people who share a racial/ethnic/cultural identity can come together for building community, fellowships, and empowerment;
– providing families with an opportunity to discuss feelings, concerns, and issues of cultural heritage, race/ethnicity and racism in a safe space;
– offering underrepresented people in a community a safe space to come together to feel less isolated and more connected and affirmed, to build strength, pride, and resilience;
– building on parents’ pre-existing knowledge regarding issues and experience with race and racism and help parents foster a positive social identity for children;
– enhancing the collaborative efforts between different groups in order to create equity for all.
Goals courtesy of National Association of Independent Schools
Currently, Montessori School of Durham Affinity Groups include:
- Parents of African-American or Multiracial Children
- LGBTQ Families and Allies
For the following families, we have a contact person who can serve as a resource for questions:
- Families of International Origins
- Parents of Children with Allergies
- Neurodiverse Families
We are flexible and open to developing more Affinity Groups in the future with parent support.
Our Staff Commitment to Diversity
Recruitment: Diversity Hiring Fair
Every spring, Montessori School of Durham joins with other Triangle independent schools to host a Diversity Hiring Fair. Triangle-area independent schools are seeking talented educators of color to fill full- and part-time teaching and staff positions in our schools.
Leadership: Professional Development
In 2022, the full MSD staff completed a “Diverse Family and Gender Inclusion in Education Settings” training with Rainbow Collective for Change and received Rainbow Kits full of resources, lessons, books, and materials to help have developmentally appropriate conversations around self identity, family, diversity, unfairness, and standing up against unfairness. Additionally, the Rainbow Kit tools will help us continue striving for our school to be LGBTQ and gender inclusive. You can learn more about Rainbow Collective for Change and Rainbow Kits here. With the guidance of Rainbow Collective for Change, we have started a "Rainbow Club" for which all Elementary age students are eligible. Contact Natalie@msdurham.org if you would like more information or to register your child.
Tammy Squires, Head of School
In April 2018, Tammy attended the NCAIS Diversity and Inclusion Conference. The topic this year was "Creating and Nurturing an Inclusive Community." She also participated in the "Growing in Diversity & Reconciliation" 3-week course led by Dr. Terrance Ruth, Dr. J.D. Greear, and Tremayne Manson. In the summer 2016, Tammy attended the American Montessori Society’s Diversity Conference where she learned from Derrick Gay’s presentation, “The Double-Edged Sword of Diversity: Reframing Community-Life Initiatives in Montessori Schools.” Learn more from his TedX Video.
Staff: Professional Development
Our teachers regularly participate in professional development relative to Diversity and Inclusion such as:
Teaching Tolerance trainings
Embrace Race webinars
TEACCH Autism Program
Anti-Bias Anti-Racism course with Britt Hawthorne
American Montessori Society webinar: Anti-Bias Education for Students and Teachers Alike with Tiffany Jewel
American Montessori Society Diversity Conference with Derick Gay
Association Montessori Internationale conference: Embracing Equity
Trillium Montessori courses on Fairness, Equality, and Justice; Montessori Inclusion; Introduction to Anti-bias Education; and Building an Equitable Holiday Approach
Endicott College course: Culture & Identity
NCCU conference: Let's Talk about Racism
Wisdom of Trauma course
MSD Diversity Symposiums
- Book studies of
- All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
- Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? By Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.d
- White Fragility: Why it's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
- Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
- How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
- Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
- How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith
The Program/Cultural Diversity Committee spent two years studying Anti-Bias Education and used their study to develop culturally inclusive guidelines for holidays in the classroom and led a school-wide professional development series on the text. Learn more about this book here.