Diversity Statement

Francis W. Parker School strives to uphold its mission to educate for character and citizenship by recognizing and respecting all members of the community in all areas of school life. Founded on the belief that diversity enriches learning and that a diverse community benefits everyone, the school is deliberately composed of a diverse group of people so that we may learn how to honor the dignity and experience of every human being.

Parker strives to create a safe and inclusive environment where students learn to have courageous conversations about differences in experiences, opinions, ideas, interests and identities that shape humanity. Parker also aims to cultivate a school community that teaches with sensitivity about differences including, but not limited to, race, sex, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, political and social values, culture, gender identity, religion, physical ability and learning style.

At Francis W. Parker School, we believe, as part of a global world, we must teach students about diversity to strengthen their capacity to relate to one another so they may learn to treat others with respect and kindness and challenge behaviors that oppress, exclude or demean the humanity of others.

Parker’s commitment to diversity informs its approach to admissions and hiring; its support of financial assistance to families of varying socioeconomic means; and its belief in the importance of developing the school’s curriculum, community and culture in ways that connect our students’ experiences with our broader society and with the wider world.
You can read more about Parker’s Disability Nondiscrimination Policy here.

Diversity Coordinators

Parker’s Diversity Coordinators facilitate opportunities across the school that promote awareness and understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion, and implement a series of programs for faculty, staff, parents and students developed with the Diversity Coordinator Co-Chairs, the Principal and the School’s educational consultant Dr. Derrick Gay
Diversity Coordinator Co-Chairs
Kirk La Rue and Kingsley Tang
Lower School
Heidi Byrnes-Cloet
Barbara Hunt
Lisa Nielsen
Nadia Pardesi
Ashleigh St. Peters

Intermediate and Middle Schools
Denise David
Tierra Moore
Tray White



Upper School
Andy Bigelow
Joe Bruno
Sven Carlson
Terry Davis
Alexis Pantoja
Rolanda Shepard

2021–22 Conferences and Speakers

Administrators of Color
in Independent Schools Conference with
Dr. Adrienne Keene and Clint Smith
Friday, October 22
10 a.m.–4 p.m.

This conference offers administrators of color opportunities for connection, mentoring and sharing.








Young Women of Color Symposium
“Stand Out, Step Out, Speak Out”
Saturday, March 5
 
The Young Women of Color Symposium is a leadership conference for 7th–12th grade, self-identified young women of color in the Chicagoland area. In order to protect, support and empower young women of color, Loyola Academy and Francis W. Parker School have partnered together to create a space for conversation, connection and community.



Cullen J. Davis
Young Men of Color Symposium
for Middle and Upper School
Students of Color in
Independent Schools
with Rodney Glasgow, Ed. D.
Saturday, November 6
More info here

This symposium provides participants with opportunities to explore their multiple identities and learn skills geared towards self-advocacy and community building through workshops and facilitator-led conversations. 
 

Past Speakers on Topics of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

    • Natasha Trethewey

    • Eve Ewing

    • Charles M. Blow

    • Ta-Nehisi Coates

    • Dr. Howard C. Stevenson

    • Anthony Abraham Jack

    • Wes Moore

    • Congressman John Lewis

    • Michelle Duster

    • Cozbi A. Cabrera

    • Jonathan Holloway

    • Natalie Moore

    • Kyle Lukoff

    • Duchess Harris

    • Dr. Ibram X. Kendi

    • Ayanna Pressley

    • Hill Harper

    • Saadia Faruqi

    • Eugenia Cheng

    • Colson Whitehead

    • Anand Giridharadas

    • Dr. Jacqueline Battalora

    • Kevin Young

Student Affinity and Ally Groups

Affinity and ally groups provide time and space for students with similar identities to come together in a safe environment to discuss their experiences and explore their identities.
 
At Parker, we believe each student deserves the opportunity to find her or his own voice, strengthen that voice, and use that voice to contribute to the community. Our hope is that these groups provide interested students with opportunities to gain a stronger sense of who they are, in turn strengthening the overall Parker community.

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  • Intermediate School Pride Alliance

    Any 3rd–5th grader who is interested in supporting equity for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender preference or adherence to stereotypical gender roles is invited to participate. This group uses articles in the news, videos, discussions and activities to raises awareness, center and amplify the individual and collective realities, narratives and experiences of people within the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender or Questioning/Queer (LGBTQ+) communities. Pride Alliance strives to ensure a safe and inclusive school for LGBTQ+ students, in part by using and promoting positive and inclusive language.
  • Middle School Asian and Asian-American Affinity Alliance

    Any 6th, 7th or 8th grader who self-identifies as Asian or Asian-American may participate. This affinity group aims to celebrate the plethora of distinct Asian cultures present in our middle school. Attendance for participants is entirely optional, and self-identification is up to each individual. The purpose of this Affinity Group is to provide Middle School students with support, information and safe space to express one’s shared experiences as they engage in the process of developing their own identities and consider the role of how their racial, ethnic identities and/or nationality plays a role in that process. And often, students simply get together, get to know one another, have lunch and have fun.
  • Middle School Black and African-American Affinity Group

    Any 6th, 7th or 8th grader who self-identifies as Black and/or African-American may participate. Attendance for participants is entirely optional and self-identification is up to each individual. The purpose of BAAA is to provide an opportunity for students to share and explore their life and experiences within a space defined by their self-identified membership within the Black and African-American within and beyond the school community. This space aims to cultivate trust, courage and safety, and design programming, activities and opportunities for students to connect and renew relationships, explore and celebrate identities, share successes and challenges, and encourage and support one another while engaging in the process of developing their own identities and how existing in a racialized society impacts each individual and the community at-large.
  • Middle School Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA)

    Students interested in supporting equity for all, regardless of gender preference or adherence to stereotypical gender roles, are welcome to participate. This group uses articles in the news, videos, discussions and activities to raise awareness around Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered or Questioning (LGBTQ) issues. GSA also strives to ensure a safe and inclusive school for gay and straight students, in part by using and promoting positive and inclusive language and setting the expectation that people not use sexist or homophobic language.
  • Middle School Pride Alliance

    Any 6th, 7th or 8th grader who is interested in supporting equity for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender preference or adherence to stereotypical gender roles is invited to participate. This group uses articles in the news, videos, discussions and activities to raises awareness, center and amplify the individual and collective realities, narratives and experiences of people within the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender or Questioning/Queer (LGBTQ+) communities. MS Pride Alliance strives to ensure a safe and inclusive school for LGBTQ+ students, in part by using and promoting positive and inclusive language.
  • Middle School La Mesa Hispana

    La Mesa Hispana, The Hispanic Table, is for students who self-identify as Hispanic to gather around a “table” with those who have an interest in Hispanic culture of any identity. The group explores food, music, art, dance, history and more with interested native speakers sharing their own cultures.
  • Students of Color Affinity Groups (SOCA)

    Within each of our four divisions, our SOCAs provide a safe space for students to share and discuss their experiences of race in order to feel supported, included and successful.

    While affinity groups have historically been more popular in upper grades, research and experience inform us that individuals in the United States are considering their racial identities as early as age three. They are noticing differences and attributing generalizations to those differences as they make sense of the world around them and their own place within it. We are putting a concerted effort into ensuring that all students, regardless of their racial identity, have the opportunity to form positive self-images. However, we know that young students of color face greater challenges because of the messages they often receive from society and can benefit from connecting with other students of color and being mentored by adults of color.
  • Upper School Asian Alliance

    Asian Alliance is an affinity group where everyone who identifies as Asian or Asian-American can speak freely about their varying experiences. The group brings awareness that there is an Asian spectrum, rather than just East Asia. While the main focus is to deal with issues affecting our community and advance our community, the group also finds interactive ways to connect by including opportunities to share our cultures with the rest of the student body along with celebrating our differences within the club itself.
    Read More
  • Upper School Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force

    This group works with Upper School Diversity Coordinators and Dr. Derrick Gay to create a more inclusive and equitable experience for all students at Parker. 
  • Upper School Latin American Students Organization (LASO)

    LASO provides a space for students who identify with Latin American origins to celebrate their cultural and ethnic diversity, discuss local and national issues that affect them and educate the school and the community at large about their cultures and issues that affect Latinos at large.
  • Upper School Men of Color Heritage Affinity (MOCHA)

    MOCHA provides an open, student-run space for young men of color to gather and talk about different topics related to their experience. This organization aims to develop the voice of young men of color in the school.
  • Upper School Positive Racial Identity through Education (PRIDE)

    PRIDE fosters development in Parker’s Upper School student body, centers and amplifies marginalized voices, stimulates interest and awareness among the Parker community in central program themes and forms relationships with individuals and organizations who share common goals and mission.
  • Upper School Students Affirming Gender Equality (SAGE)

    SAGE provides a safe discussion space for Upper School students to explore current issues surrounding gender and sexuality.

Parent Education

Education thrives when parents trust the school, the students and other parents with a spirit of open-mindedness, a respect for diversity and generosity with time, ideas and resources. Annual parent education opportunities help further the partnership between home and community.

List of 3 items.

  • Lower and Intermediate School Diversity Dialogues

    These interactive workshops provide a time and space for Lower School Faculty and members of Parker’s schoolwide Diversity, Equity and Inclusion department to explore concepts of identity, and how to begin and sustain developmentally-appropriate conversations with their students.
  • Parent SEED Meetings (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity)

    SEED is a peer-led professional development program that promotes change through self-reflection and interpersonal dialogue and builds capacity for more equitable curriculum, campuses, workplaces and communities.
  • Parent Workshop on Identity Development with Dr. Derrick Gay

    This important workshop invites parents and guardians to consider “Will Your Child Be Ready for Success in the 21st Century?” by discussing how many parents inadvertently prepare their children to live in the childhood world they grew up in, rather than the 21st-century global society that children will inherit – globalization, changing demographics in the United States and a more collaborative workforce. The ability to communicate effectively across difference is a non-negotiable for 21st-century global citizens who will matriculate into an international collegiate experience and a multicultural professional and social environment.
Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.