Beginning in March 2022, SI is implementing processes that more closely align the school with standards and benchmarks other Jesuit schools use to achieve inclusive hiring, which we believe will support the hiring and retention of the best faculty and staff available. Through adjustments to how we identify and recruit candidates, conduct interviews and make decisions, we aim for SI's faculty and staff to be more representative of the families we serve and the communities in which we live.
These changes are based on research which shows that as professional communities become more diverse, with a wider variety of life experiences and perspectives, they tend to get better at strategic planning and problem-solving, experience increased creativity and innovation, develop more productive teams, and report increased satisfaction with their work, among other benefits.
Specific to schools, the research suggests that a more diverse faculty benefits the entire student body and adult community. Students whose identities are represented among faculty at all levels of the institution feel more validated and a greater sense of belonging in the school community, which is associated with better social, emotional and academic outcomes. Teachers from marginalized communities experience less burnout and turnover, cutting off vicious cycles in which they are expected to bear the ever greater invisible load of supporting students from similarly marginalized communities.
Furthermore, diversifying the faculty also provides benefits to those students whose identities were already well-represented at the school and in the wider culture. When those students have role models and authority figures from previously underrepresented identities, they tend to receive similar benefits as adult co-workers do: increased creativity, better critical thinking skills, and a more nuanced and expanded view of the world.
Sarah Leibel, master teacher in residence in the Harvard Teacher Fellows Program, offered an explanation for why this is so, saying, "It’s really important that students have people who reflect back to them their language, their culture, their ethnicity, their religion. It doesn’t mean all the people in their lives have to do that mirroring, but they should have some. And we know that in the teaching profession, there really are not enough mirrors."
SI has long tried to develop students' creativity, critical thinking and empathy. It is also true that students are graduating into a world that, more than ever, will demand their ability to work with people across lines of difference, in college and beyond.
We are optimistic about these changes, and that includes our principal, Michelle Nevin Levine, and our president, Edward A. Reese, S.J., who have the responsibility of making appointments and promotions at their will. It is also important to acknowledge that this work is ongoing, and that we may find it appropriate to make more changes. At this time, we are developing an amended process for part-time, seasonal, and exempt positions that still follows the core principles of our inclusive hiring process for faculty.
We will continue to iterate and seek improvement as we go along this path. In order to be the best version of SI possible, we must become a school where our faculty and staff reflect the varied Gifts of the Spirit present in our racially and ethnically diverse student body. It's the right thing to do because it's better for our employees and it's better for our students.