Montessori School of Durham

Skip to main content

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.
Everybody's talking about diversity these days.  (If they're not, they should be.)  At MSD, we're not just talking about it.  We're actively working together toward our goal.  We intentionally seek to recruit diverse candidates for job openings (which are rare, since our staff are so happy here!  But that's another story), we organize parent education events that focus on talking with our children about race and ethnicity, and our staff continue their professional growth by developing their awareness of implicit bias and promoting anti-bias educational practices.
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.

We are also pleased report that the recent hiring season for the 2018-19 school year will increase our faculty and After School staff diversity by 15% taking our total staff diversity to 35%.  Also, in the last three years, we have doubled our Financial Aid funds available to families. 


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

  • One in five families speaks at least one language in addition to English at home;
  • 41% of our community have lived abroad, representing approximately 40 countries;
  • Family structures vary, including traditional, adoptive, blended, 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 (nearly 36% of students), grandparents/ family, nannies, after school enrichment programs, and flexible work schedules;
  • Nearly all of our families actively volunteer by sending in classroom snacks, taking care of classroom pets, giving classroom presentations, supporting school events, and serving on school committees, including the Parents Association and Diversity Committee;
  • 82% of our families live in Durham, 10% in Chapel Hill, and 8% in surrounding areas.

Our Diversity and Inclusion Committee

Members of the 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.

Our Staff Commitment to Diversity

Recruitment: Diversity Hiring Fair

In February, Montessori School of Durham joined with 8 other Triangle independent schools to host a Job Fair for underrepresented teachers and school professionals.  We look forward to hosting another soon!

Leadership: Professional Development

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.

Cynthia Assistant Head of School

Cynthia Hughey, Assistant Head of School

Cynthia has recently completed a Racial Equity Workshop with local activists, Organizing Against Racism.  OAR teaches participants how to deconstruct historical, cultural and institutional racism and build something new and revolutionary in its place.  As they offer workshops throughout the Triangle, Cynthia enthusiastically recommends this workshop for any and all people interested in dismantling racism.  

Prior to this, Cynthia has also regularly participated in Ruth King’s Mindful of Race workshops.  Learn more at


 Staff: Professional Development

In March, five of our staff members attended the Teaching Tolerance workshop on social justice teaching and facilitating critical conversations. Our teaching staff just completed the American Montessori Society webinar workshop on Anti Bias Education with Tiffany Jewel. 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 will lead a school-wide professional development series on the text in 2017-18.  Learn more about this book here


Parent Resources

2017-18 Diversity and Inclusion Symposium
This Parent Education event featured MSD parents who led sessions on Talking to Children About Race and Immigration, Advocating for Social Justice, Diversity in Children's Literature, and Stress, Worry, Fear, Anxiety---What's Normal? This event was organized and facilitated by the Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

2016-17 Parent Education Series

This three-part Parent Education series featured  Dr. Leslie Marshall who led our discussion of Talking to Your Children About Race, Ethnicity, and Culture.  During these interactive seminars over the course of the year, parents learned specific strategies for having courageous conversations with our children and the value of equipping them with language to navigate these complex issues.

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:

  • Families of International Origins,

  • Families with Diverse Structures,

  • LGBTQ Families and Allies,

  • Parents of African-American or Multiracial Children,

  • Parents for Social Justice,

  • Parents of Children with Allergies, and

  • Neurodiverse Families.  

 We anticipate developing more Affinity Groups in the future with parent support.

Did you know?
In 2015, nearly twice as many children's' books were written about talking animals or ordinarily inanimate objects than about people of color.
Of the children's books centering on diverse populations, only 6% of those were actually written by the people being represented.
The child is capable of developing and giving us tangible proof of the possibility of a better humanity.”  – Maria Montessori