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DEI at Marian Catholic

Marian Catholic High School began anti-racism efforts focused on systemic changes in the 2003-2004 school year. This evolved out of the Springfield Dominican Sisters' corporate commitment to become an anti-racist congregation. It was also supported by the Archdiocese of Chicago’s effort to become an anti-racist Roman Catholic Church. Three members of the Marian Catholic community, Carol Lanier, Marcheta Smith and Sister Kathleen Anne Tait, OP, had transformational team training through Crossroads and initiated the process at Marian Catholic.

The initial goal was to involve a broader group of Marian Catholic constituents into the racial justice efforts and gaining the endorsement and support of the chief administrators. The faculty retreat that first year introduced the concepts of systemic racism and established a definition of racism as race prejudice combined with the misuse of power by systems and institutions. Ten members of the administrative council and interested faculty also attended a 2.5 day analysis workshop through Crossroads. From that initial group of participants, an internal anti-racism school committee was formed. The next three years (2004-2005, 2005-2006, 2006-2007) , the school committee planned faculty in-services, worked to increase the diverse artwork and religious symbols in the school, planned for additional 2.5 day analysis trainings for the Marian Catholic Community, and set initial goals for the anti-racism effort.

Two analysis trainings were held specifically for Marian Catholic constituents in June of 2006 and June of 2007. The participants in the analysis trainings were a combination of staff, parents, alumni, and larger community members. Those who had attended the analysis training were invited to meetings three or four times a year. The meetings gave updates of Marian Catholic's efforts, shared data pertinent to the work, and provided opportunities to practice the analysis of racism introduced in the workshops. In the fall of 2008, all previous participants of analysis workshops were invited to be part of a transformative team trained by Crossroads.

January 2009, 18 people responded to the invitation and spent a weekend with Crossroads trainers. The weekend included an emphasis on planning for systemic change, community organizing and team formation operating out of the anti-racist values of both/and thinking, transparent communication, cooperation and collaboration, and an abundant world view. Starting January 2009, the team  met monthly. A vision statement and team covenant were developed. The team focused efforts of four stakeholder groups, students, staff, decision makers, and partners (those who had participated in analysis trainings). The team continued to sponsor analysis training sessions both to train new members for the team and to further engage Marian Catholic staff members. Those sessions were held in March of 2010 and June of 2013. In August of 2013, the position of Diversity Director was established at Marian Catholic to further integrate the work of the team into daily operations.

In the spring of 2014, the team selected three goals areas to focus efforts for the next two years:
  • Expand awareness of the work of the anti-racism team to the general Marian Catholic Community by establishing a page on the website and making resources available.
  • Integrate into the student curriculum the importance of inclusive communities that both value diversity and understand the analysis of systemic racism.
  • Establish an in-service program for both new and current staff which fosters an understanding of systemic racism’s impact on the educational program and provides steps for intervention.

In Fall 2017, Carol Lanier assumed the full-time position as Director of Diversity. The Director of Diversity and team members created a resource guide for faculty, staff, students, and their parents to collaboratively discuss and resolve issues concerning diversity. In August 2018, 40 new faculty and staff attended a four-hour workshop facilitated by Crossroads/Chicago Roar. In the fall of 2018, the team selected to focus efforts for the next two years:

  • Creation of a tool or procedure that will enable parents to obtain the appropriate help from an identifiable Marian Catholic staff to address issues concerning diversity.
  • Review and make necessary adjustments based on data-generated evidence concerning school policies, organizations, curriculum, and procedures so that they reflect racial inclusion of all cultures of Marian Catholic.

As Director, Lanier also introduced the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), a valid and reliable assessment of intercultural competence to administration. Unanimously, the administration concurred that faculty and staff would gain valuable insights about how they engage cultural differences by reflecting on both past and current cross-cultural events or situations they have been or are involved in. In April 2019, Lanier received professional training and a certificate as a Qualified Administrator of the IDI. With the support of Marian Catholic's President, Vince Krydynski, Mr. Edward Jones, Assistant Dean at Moody Bible Institute and father of a Marian Catholic student, conducted a faculty in-service focused on intercultural competencies in January 2019.

In August 2019, the IDI was administered to 95 faculty and staff. From September to October, Mr. Jones conducted IDI debriefing sessions with faculty and staff to explain their assessment results. The Director of Diversity continued assessment debriefings with school departments and new teachers. The faculty diversity council agreed to design and implement opportunities and activities for faculty and staff focused on intercultural competence. Faculty and staff would gain an understanding about how to respond to cultural differences and commonalities as well as improve their ability to form bridges across diverse communities. In the fall of 2019, the Director of Diversity became a member of a collaborative committee of seven other Chicagoland Catholic high schools. The committee members are principals, diversity coordinators, guidance counselors, and deans. The committee creates and implements engaging youth conferences allowing students to build a shared community and to see, hear, learn, and flourish while celebrating their differences.