Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
As an independent school in the Catholic tradition, and committed to the Loretto School Values of faith, community, justice, and respect, St. Mary’s Academy is committed to diversity in its many forms. Diversity includes the human facets of race, ethnicity, national origin, geography, religion, gender, affectional or sexual orientation, age, physical ability, learning style, and marital, parental or economic status.
St. Mary’s Academy affirms the inherent dignity and value of each individual. Our school embraces the distinct identity of each person and helps students to appreciate their own identities and those of others. St. Mary’s Academy actively seeks families, faculty, and staff who bring a range of experience to the school.
We believe diversity increases the ability to formulate and nurture ideas and relationships resulting in a school community where all opinions and views are respected.St. Mary’s Academy provides a scholarly learning environment for an educational experience that prepares students to participate in an increasing complex global society.
We believe that in a multicultural society, developing competency--the will and ability to create authentic and effective relationships across differences--is crucial to being a responsible and compassionate world citizen.
Our DEI consultant Maria Salazar, Ph.D. performs educational consulting, evaluation, and training for St. Mary's Academy in the far-reaching realm of diversity, equity, and inclusion. She specializes in transformative teacher preparation through empirical research on equitable and effective teaching. A professor at the University of Denver Morgridge College of Education, Dr. Salazar has authored numerous articles and given more than 100 scholarly presentations on her research areas.
Victoria Fernandez, Middle School Learning Specialist, coordinates DEI efforts at the Middle School, where she oversees the Affinity program, which includes four student groups: Neurodiversity, Multiethnic, Diverse Family Structures, and Rainbow Alliance. In the community, she has participated in the STAMP Faculty for four years, the People of Color Conference (POCC), and the Colorado Diversity Network, as well as many professional development opportunities. Ms. Fernandez is currently pursuing a Certificate in Diversity and Inclusion through Cornell University.
Debbie Horning, High School Theology Teacher, leads DEI efforts with several faculty members at the High School. She has been the lead sponsor of the Diversity Club (formerly “Common Ground Club”) for 23 years and supports the staff with Affinity groups, the STAMP (Students Taking Action Making Progress) conference, and Diversity Day at the High School. In the community, Ms. Horning has served as a board member of the Teachers of Color and Allies Summit, chaperone to the annual Student Diversity Leadership conference and People of Color Conference (POCC), faculty advisor for Cherry Creek High School Diversity Day, and as the school representative for the Colorado Diversity Network.
Recent Professional Development
- February 2021: High School faculty trains on building Brave Spaces with Dr. Maria Salazar.
- January 2021: Lower School faculty watched and discussed a TED talk by antibias and antiracist educator Liz Kleinrock on the theme of how to talk about taboo topics. Middle School faculty workshops are examining how to e a teacher ally to a specific group of students.
- December 2020: High School faculty, students, and the head of school attended the Student Diversity Leadership Conference/People of Color Conference through the National Association of Independent Schools.
- November 2020: High School faculty and students attended training on The Building Blocks of Civil Discourse with Dr. Lisa Damour.
- October 2020: High School faculty and staff attended an “Anti-bias and Anti-racism in the Classroom” workshop with Liz Kleinrock, an anti-bias, anti-racist educator and consultant based in Washington, DC.
- October 2020: High School faculty attended a training on “Gender Spectrum” with Joel Baum, senior director of a leading national nonprofit dedicated to gender understanding for all children and youth.
- September/October 2020: All SMA faculty attended two-hour training with Dr. Salazar on racial justice.