For IMS faculty member Shantel Hanniford, the summer was particularly engaging and inspiring. After joining the school last year as an Upper Campus History Teacher, Ms. Hanniford will take on an additional role beginning this fall; she will serve as the school’s first Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). This multidimensional leadership role, created as an outcome of the School’s current strategic plan, will ensure that the IMS community continues to grow and learn in ways that are reflective of our intentionally diverse population.
Ms. Hanniford says she is excited for all aspects of this new position, adding that she is “particularly eager to work closely with students and teachers on curriculum that connects to their own identity—and at the same time pushes them to think outside of themselves.”
Before visiting with family and friends on her home island of Nantucket this summer, Ms. Hanniford attended the National Diversity Practitioner Institute (NDPI) in Potomac, Maryland, an intensive, three-day institute designed for educators responsible for building and sustaining inclusive school communities. “It was a wonderful experience that stretched me personally and expanded my thinking on DEI work in independent schools,” she reflects. “I left with a wealth of knowledge and tangible skills that I have already put to good use.”
Next week, Ms. Hanniford will lead a faculty and staff professional development workshop to set personal goals and discuss what we need to do as an institution around diversity, equity, and inclusion. As part of this work, we will welcome Amy Julia Becket, author of “White Picket Fences: Turning Toward Love in a World Divided by Privilege,” one of the school’s faculty summer reading requirements. Topics discussed will include various forms of privilege and socioeconomic diversity. “This will serve as the foundation for the year, as well as a springboard to prepare us for the challenges we may face in the future.”
During the school year, Ms. Hanniford will work with both the Lower and Upper Campuses to “cultivate a learning environment that addresses a range of identities and learning styles.” She will also help construct and organize faculty professional development, supervise affinity groups, promote more DEI initiatives in student life, and facilitate a student and faculty DEI task force.
On why this work is so important at IMS, Ms. Hanniford states, “We owe it to our students to foster an environment where they will be equipped for a better tomorrow. The world is constantly evolving, and we need to prepare young people to adapt and adopt.”