Catholic prep school teachers commit to learning ‘anti-racist teaching strategies’

Students started a new club focusing on student involvement with social justice issues.

Benilde-St. Margaret’s/Twitter

Benilde-St. Margaret’s, a Catholic preparatory school located in St. Louis Park, recently hired a specialist to evaluate the school’s efforts regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

“Whenever possible, immediate action will be taken to improve inclusion strategies. Following the review, BSM will create a multi-year plan to ensure DEI strategies become part of our everyday approach to building meaningful community,” states the school’s 2020-21 DEI Action Plan.

Benilde-St. Margaret’s five-year strategic plan, separate from its DEI Action Plan, “establishes a formal vision for BSM’s student body that reflects racial, economic, and academic diversity.” In order to follow this plan and “assess and improve our organizational approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion,” the prep school is working with consultant Kendra Dodd, hired in August 2020.

The “general assessment” Dodd is working on with the school includes “research and immediate implementation,” “long-term plan development,” and “long-term plan implementation.”

“Following the review, BSM will create a multi-year plan that features specific strategies to bolster inclusion efforts; improve recruiting and onboarding techniques; develop parent, student, and employee educational training; and enhance employee coaching and accountability,” according to the school’s website.

August consisted of “Research and Training” for students, faculty, staff, and school leadership. Students could engage in focus groups that discussed ways “BSM can cultivate an environment where all students feel a genuine sense of belonging.” Faculty attended workshops to learn about the “role they each play in developing an inclusive atmosphere.”

September continued with focus groups and training for students and staff, including meetings for staff on “unconscious bias” and “inclusive dialogue.” Certain staff pledged to participate in a “year-long program focused on anti-racist teaching strategies.” Students started a new club focusing on student involvement with social justice issues.

According to the school’s website, faculty and staff are regularly “required to participate” in “professional development to enhance cultural understanding,” including programs on becoming a “culturally responsive teacher” and “interrupting student bias in the classroom.” 

Benilde-St. Margaret’s continued the DEI plan in October with “Community Action” efforts, which consisted of the first meeting of a new sub-committee on diversity, equity, and inclusion, connecting with “an area college that will help diversify BSM faculty,” and “respectful dialogue” training for faculty and staff. Additionally, in October, “parents of students of color participated in a virtual meet-and-greet with the consultant,” Kendra Dodd.

Town hall meetings are planned for this month, but no details are given as to plans for December and the rest of the school year.

Alpha News reached out to the school for comment, but did not receive a response.