Diversity Directions 2019

[This article originally appeared in the Fall 2019 HMI Newsletter]

Much of the learning that takes place at HMI comes from working, living, and learning with people who have different life experiences and hold unique perspectives. Because of this, the more diversity we have in our community, the stronger our program will be. In order to advance diversity, equity and inclusion at HMI, this summer, four faculty and staff members traveled to North Andover, Massachusetts to join with one hundred other independent school employees for the week-long Diversity Directions workshop. Avery Kernan and Ray McGaughey share their takeaways from the experience.  

HMI faculty/staff Hayden Shea, Ray McGaughey, Jess Wolinsky, and Avery Kernan at the Diversity Directions workshop in North Andover, MA

Ray McGaughey, Director of Admissions

This was my first extended diversity and inclusion workshop and the word that best describes my week is powerful. Over the course of the program, we listened to independent school leaders from around the country as they shared their stories and offered insight into building diverse and inclusive school communities. In focus groups we shared our own “cultural stories” and debriefed each speaker through a mediated discussion. In many ways, the work felt simultaneously personal and professional.

In my role as HMI’s Admissions Director, I recruit each class of HMI Semester and Summer Term students. The admissions team has influence over the demographic breakdown of our student body and our work can directly lead to classes that are more diverse—or more homogeneous. After hearing successful strategies that other schools have implemented to recruit students from ethnically, socio-economically, and culturally diverse backgrounds, I am inspired to deepen our efforts to broaden HMI’s reach in order to connect with students who otherwise might never have considered studying away in Colorado.

Of course, our small community isn’t made up of only students—it also includes apprentices, faculty, and staff. Since Diversity Directions, a team of HMI employees has gotten together to create a “Hiring Taskforce.” We are working to examine biases in our hiring process, market our job openings to more diverse applicants, and generally improve the way we hire. We hope that this work will not only help us build diversity in our adult community but also allow us to find the absolute best candidate for every opening on our team.

Avery Kernan, Apprentice Program Coordinator

As a sixteen year-old, HMI was the first place that I discovered what it meant to be my full self. I was able to put myself out there so vulnerably because I was part of a community that deeply cared for me as an individual. I felt like my whole self was included and important to my community. This allowed me to act with confidence and creativity without fear of judgement. This is why inclusivity is personal to me. I want to make sure every student—no matter their background—feels as deeply cared for and encouraged as I did. 

Spending a full week steeped in conversation about diversity, equity, and inclusion at Diversity Directions stressed to me that achieving diversity alone is not enough for our community to thrive. In order for all students at our school to feel the same level of support that I did, we must also work toward building a culture that is inclusive and equitable. 

In order for our school to become more inclusive, we need for each individual staff member to feel a personal connection to why it matters. When we feel personally motivated in this regard, it will affect the decisions that we each make, and those decisions will change the larger culture that we build together.