Diversity - Equity - Inclusion

Fessenden’s stated values  Honesty, Compassion, and Respect  are the foundation of our inclusive educational approach. Our uniquely diverse community, which spans the globe, brings together students from a multitude of cultural, racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and family experiences. Our effort to create a diverse and inclusive environment has its roots in the educational mission of the school, and also supports our belief in the advancement of social justice and equity in our world.

Fessenden’s movement to become an inclusive global learning environment has been intentional and grounded in an understanding of the educational needs of the students we serve. The world we live in today, shrunk by technology and digital communication, requires a deeper understanding and appreciation of differences, as well as the ability to interact with people of varied backgrounds and cultures. We are proud to offer such richly diverse experiences.

Our students meet regularly in groups designed to increase their fluency and understanding of sensitive topics. Affinity groups, multicultural groups, and topical discussion groups afford our boys the chance to share a broad range of perspectives and opinions about myriad issues pertinent to their growth as students and citizens. Presentations by our international students bring the world to our door. Fessenden’s character education curriculum puts students in touch with matters of importance in the school as well as in the world at large. Guest speakers relate their experiences and information on a variety of subjects: from racial justice to gender roles, from disabilities to bullying. Classroom lessons explore these topics from a scholastic point of view. Parents are encouraged to contribute and connect with each other through adult affinity groups, such as AKIN, and by volunteering to be part of our Parents Association multicultural committee, FAME.

Supported by our generous professional development program, faculty and staff attend numerous workshops and conferences, seeking the knowledge and skill they need to guide our students in their quest for proficiency in our multicultural society. We create an environment in which boys can freely ask hard questions about issues they face, gaining understanding and respect for the differences that exist in their own community. We want them to build confidence and comfort in their own skin, and to be more comfortable with their own identities so they can be more accepting of the developing identities of others.

Affinity Groups

List of 4 items.

  • The Asian Society

    Mission: To build community and shared experiences among those who self-identify as Asian. The society hosts an annual Asian-themed event to share the culture with the larger school community.
    Members: Approximately 30 students representing more than 15 countries
    Meetings: Three lunch meetings per month. Both Asians and non-Asians are welcome to attend.
    Established: 2004

    Mission: To bridge cultural and ethnic differences that exist in our community and to provide comfort and support to boys of African descent. Members can be assured their cultural needs will be met and they will be free to express themselves while fostering brotherhood.
    Members: Boys of African descent
    Meetings: Weekly lunch meetings
    Established: 2001
  • AKIN (Parent Group)

    Mission: To build a stronger connection among parents of boys of African descent; strengthen these parents’ engagement with the school; celebrate identities; provide these parents with resources to support their boys' social, emotional, and cultural development.
    Members: Approximately 44 active members
    Meetings: Four times per year
    Established: 2013
  • Hispanic Heritage

    Mission: To allow Hispanic (ancestry from countries where Spanish is the primary language) members of our community to explore their own identities, celebrate shared identities, and discuss common challenges and experiences.
    Members: Students who self-identify as being Hispanic or having Hispanic connections or ancestry.
    Meetings: Biweekly lunch meetings with agendas generated, in part, by students.
    Established: 2014

Multicultural Groups

List of 3 items.

  • FAME (Fessenden Alliance for Multicultural Education)

    Staffulty Leader: Sameera Anwar
    Vision: All members of the Fessenden community are invited to develop honesty, compassion, and respect for all people of this world by becoming more cross culturally competent citizens.
     To support and bring to reality Fessenden’s inclusion statement, so as to make all members of the Fessenden community true global citizens and empowered global agents of change. FAME strives to ensure that the Fessenden community is a place where “each member feels recognized and valued,” and where learning regarding “differences of backgrounds, perspectives, and cultures” is constant. 
    Members: All members of the Fessenden community are welcome.
    Meetings: Meetings are event-based. The group typically holds 4 to 5 events per year, which are designed to highlight and celebrate the diversity within our community.
    Established: 2013
  • SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity)

    Mission: To engage teachers and administrators in the discussion of gender-fair, multiculturally equitable, and globally informed education. Faculty and staff use their experiences and students’ experiences to widen and deepen school curricula and make the community more inclusive.
    Members: Fessenden Faculty and Staff
    Meetings: 3 to 4 meetings per year
    Established: 2014 (Fessenden Chapter)
  • MEG (Matters of Ethnicity and Gender)

    Staffulty Facilitator: Nick Francese
    Mission: To discuss topics that challenge our notion of what it is to be truly inclusive. We don’t seek consensus on a topic; rather, we encourage students to consider other viewpoints with compassion and respect.
    Members: Open to all Upper School students
    Meetings: Weekly lunch meeting
    Established: 2001 (Fessenden Chapter)

Fessenden Inclusion Statement

Our commitment to Diversity and Inclusion is effectively captured in our “Statement of Inclusion” and “Community Principles,” documents created by our Faculty and Staff Diversity Committee:
At Fessenden, inclusion means building a community whose spirit and purpose is based on mutual respect and care. It is vital that each member feels recognized and valued. Inclusion is an essential part of our mission to cultivate each student’s potential and develop each boy’s mind, character, and heart. We believe that differences of backgrounds, perspectives and cultures are integral to preparing boys to be successful young men in a global community. Ongoing, mindful practice of inclusion requires both individual and institutional commitment to self-examination and learning. We further our mission to be a joyfully inclusive community by aligning policies, curriculum, and decision-making to support diversity and inclusion. Inclusion is at the heart of how we treat each other in our daily interactions.

Community Principles

We are guided by and are committed to the following community principles:
  • Treat others with honesty and respect
  • Practice compassion; make an effort to understand and care for others
  • Honor diversity; promote a healthy respect for individual differences and affirm commonalities
  • Celebrate individual potential; nurture the many ways boys learn
  • Reject prejudice, bullying, and elitism; renounce behavior that excludes others
  • Engage in open, trusting dialogue; seek to learn from those who have differing opinions
  • Serve, to strengthen our inclusive community
© 2015 The Fessenden School. All Rights Reserved.
The Fessenden School
250 Waltham Street
West Newton, MA 02465
(617) 964-5350

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