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Episcopal schools take seriously their calling to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” This document presents Washington Episcopal School’s Diversity, Equity & Justice Planning Guide developed to demonstrate commitment to spiritual intention and public witness on issues of diversity, equity and justice. This plan includes a set of strategic objectives and activities to serve as a framework for WES to accomplish its diversity mission over the course of the 2016-2017 school year and beyond. The contents of this document were developed under the leadership of the Diversity, Equity & Justice Committee comprised of representation from school leadership, faculty, staff, and parent volunteers.

Diversity at a Glance

Enrolled Students: 295

  • 140 girls & 155 boys
  • 230 families
  • 33% students of color
  • 25% of students have foreign citizenship or are first-generation US citizens

Faculty & Staff: 70 members

  • 24% male, 76% female
  • 22% people of color or hailing from the international community

Washington Episcopal School primarily serves families from the District of ColumbiaMontgomery County, Northern Virginia, and Prince George’s County. We take pride in the rich diversity of our student body, which represents a range of ethnic and racial groups, United States citizens and foreign nationals, and a cross-section of economic, religious (primarily Christian, Jewish, and Islamic), and cultural backgrounds.

WES Diversity Mission Statement

Washington Episcopal School is a diverse community, where the uniqueness of each member of the school is celebrated. The WES goal is to educate the whole child in order to prepare each student to become a citizen of the world. At WES, a diverse student body and broad based academic excellence go hand-in-hand. Our learning environments present students and adults with the opportunity to freely share a range of ideas and experiences to enrich academic, social, and moral growth. WES celebrates the differences in our ethnicities, cultures, learning styles, physical abilities, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status. The contributions of each community member are encouraged and welcomed and incorporated into the learning experience. As an Episcopal school, WES is dedicated to the Episcopal Church’s mission of social justice and tolerance and strives to challenge prejudice, intolerance, racism, and oppression. 

Student Multicultural Activities

Here are a few highlights from the past five years that demonstrate the breadth and commitment that the students, faculty, and staff have had to this area of learning. 

Field Trips

  • National Museum of African Art
  • Freer Gallery (Arts of Japan, China, Islamic World, Indian Subcontinent)
  • National Museum of the American Indian
  • Discovery Theatre (Smithsonian Associates)
  • Theatre Works (Freedom Train: Story of the Underground Railroad)

Study Trips

  • Civil War sites of Antietam and Harpers Ferry (Grade 5)
  • Native American Culture in the Desert Southwest (Grade 6)
  • History and Culture of Italy (Grade 7)
  • Present and Past in France and Spain (Grade 8)

School Visits and Exchange

  • WES French Exchange Program with Ecole Pascal
  • WES Spanish Exchange Program with Granada College, Granada, Spain

Class-Sponsored Events

  • Native American Display (Grade 5)
  • Heritage Heroes Museum (Grade 3)

Middle School Advisory Meetings

  • Students meet weekly with their advisors. Meetings often involve discussions of diversity issues.
  • A delegation of WES Grade 7 and 8 students regularly attends the Annual Diversity Conference for Middle School Students. WES students have been peer facilitators for the past several years leading group discussions and diversity activities. 


  • Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, III (President, University of Maryland Baltimore Campus)
  • Robert Goodwin (Immediate Past President and CEO of Points of Light Foundation)
  • Dr. Michael Fowlin with a doctorate degree in clinical psychology from Rutgers University and whose work includes peer mediation, diversity training, gender equity workshops, and violence prevention seminars
  • Keith Hinderlie, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist and educator with over 20 years working with adults, youth and families in a variety of settings

School Chapels

  • Interfaith Thanksgiving Chapel Service (1998-present) offering prayers of thanksgiving from the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist traditions
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Chapel featuring local African-American speakers including Rev. Michele Hagans (Bishop's representative to the WES board), James Woody (Executive Director of the Bishop John T. Walker School for Boys), Rev. John Harmon (former WES parent and board member), Rev. Preston Hannibal (Canon for Academic Ministries, Episcopal Diocese of Washington, DC), and Karen Hastie Williams (former clerk to Justice Thurgood Marshall and daughter of first African American federal judge in the U.S.)
  • Other chapels with speakers such as James Woody (Executive Director of the Bishop John T. Walker School for Boys)

Multicultural Literature

Listed below is a selection of books that individual Grades and Faculty have read in the past five years.

Classroom - Students

Grade 1
Martin Luther King library books. The Storytown reading curriculum has children from all different races in the various stories.  

Grade 2
Bridges, Ruby and Maccarone, Grace. Let’s Read About Ruby Bridges
Bridges, Ruby. Through My Eyes 
Coles, Robert. The Story of Ruby Bridges
Kids Discover: Aztecs
Kids Discover: The Maya
Kids Discover:  Mexico

Grade 3
Creates a major research project and speech for the “Black Facts Museum” using numerous library resources related to famous African Americans.

Grade 4
Park, Linda Sue. Single Shard

Grade 5
Curtis, Christopher Paul. The Watsons Go to Birmingham --1963
Clark, Margaret Goff. Freedom Crossing
Speare, Elizabeth George. The Sign of the Beaver
Eckert, Allan W. Return to Hawk’s Hill
Levine, Gail Carson. Dave at Night
Uchida, Yoshiko. Journey to Topaz

Grade 6
Jiang, Ji Li. Red Scarf Girl
O’Dell, Scott. Sing Down the Moon

Grade 7
Hughes, Langston. “Thank You Ma’am.”
Hughes, Langston. Various poems

Grade 8
Angelou, Maya.  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Lee, Harper.  To Kill a Mockingbird

Summer Reading - Faculty

Suskind, Ron. A Hope in the Unseen
Carey, Lorene. Black Ice
Pink, Daniel. A Whole New Mind
Codell, Esme Raji. Educating Esme:  Diary of a Teacher’s First Year

Summer Reading - Students

Keats, Ezra Jack. Whistle for Willie

Juster, Norton. The Hello, Goodbye Window
Moon, Nicola. Something Special

Bania, Michael. Kumak's Fish
Chamberlin, Mary & Rich. Mama Panya's Pancakes
Daly, Niki. Once Upon a Time
Ichikawa, Satomi. My Father's Shop
McDermott, Gerald. Jabuti
Ogburn, Jacqueline K. The Bake Shop Ghost

Grade 1
Daly, Niki. Ruby Sings the Blues
Melmed, Laura. Little Oh
Nolen, Jerdine. Harvey Potter's Balloon Farm
Polacco, Patrica John Philip. Duck
Recorvits, Helen. My Name is Yoon
Say, Allen. Kamishibai
Uegaki, Chieri. Suki's Kimono
Little, Jean. Emma's Magic Winter
Diakite, Baba. Wague The Hatseller and the Monkeys: A West African Folktale
Mannis, Celeste Davidson. One Leaf Rides the Wind
Murphy, Stuart J. Bigger, Better, Best; Elevator Magic; Lemonade for Sale; The Penny Pot
Partridge, Elizabeth. Kogi's Mysterious Journey
Sakade, Florence. Japanese Children's Favorite Stories
Sierra, Judy. Tasty Baby Belly Buttons
Tchana, Katrin. Sense Pass King

Grade 2
Greenfield, Eloise. The Friendly Four
Nolen, Jerdine. Hewitt Anderson's Big Day
McKissack, Patricia. Tippy Lemmey
Diakite, Baba Wague. The Magic Gourd
Emberley, Rebecca. Pinata!
Murphy, Stuart J. Sluggers' Car Wash; Safari Park

Grade 3
Cameron, Ann. Gloria's Way
Look, Lenore. Ruby Lu, Brave and True; Ruby Lu, Empress of Everything
Smith, Alexander McCall. Akimbo and the Elephants; Akimbo and the Lions; Akimbo and the Crocodile Man; Akimbo and the Snakes
Demi. One Grain of Rice
Hamilton, Virginia. The Girl Who Spun Gold
Mandela, Nelson. Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales
Tallchief, Maria. Tallchief: America's Prima Ballerina

Grade 4 
Morpurgo, Michael. The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips 
Singh, Vandana. Younguncle Comes to Town 
Woodson, Jacqueline. Locomotion  
Pinkney, Andrea Davis. Dear Benjamin Banneker 
Robinson, Sharon.  Promises to Keep 
Tchana, Katrin.  The Serpent Slayer  

Grade 5
Curtis, Christopher Paul. Mr. Chickee's Funny Money
Taylor, Theodore. Ice Drift
Wiles, Deborah. The Aurora County All-Stars
Bolden, Tonya. Maritcha
Fang, Linda. The Chi-Lin Purse
Martin, Jacqueline B. The Lamp, the Ice, and the Boat Called Fish

Grade 6
Codell, Esme Raji. Sahara Special
Curry, Jane. Black Canary
Dhami, Narinder. Bindi Babes
Paterson, Katherine. The Master Puppeteer
Belloli, Andrea. Exploring World Art
Major, John S. Caravan to America: Living Arts of the Silk Road

Grade 7
Alvarez, Julia. Before We Were Free
Al-Windawi, Thura. Thura's Diary
Frank, Mitch. Understanding the Holy Land
Freedman, Russell. The Voice that Challenged America
Grimes, Nikki. Bronx Masquerade
Lekuton, Joseph. Facing the Lion: Growing Up Maasai on the Savanna
Salzman, Mark. Iron and Silk
Woodson, Jacqueline. Feathers
Zhang, Ange. Red Land, Yellow River

Grade 8
Kadohata, Cynthia. Kira-Kira
Kidd, Sue Monk. The Secret Life of Bees
Mikaelsen, Ben. Touching Spirit Bear
Myers, Walter Dean. The Glory Field
Myers, Walter Dean. The Greatest: Muhammad Ali
Rushdie, Salman. Haroun and the Sea of Stories
Smelcer, John. The Trap
Venkatraman, Padma. Climbing the Stairs
Wolff, Virginia Euwer. Make Lemonade
Wilborn, Hampton. War in the Middle East

Multicultural Arts

In addition to producing artworks that reference global cultures and histories, Washington Episcopal School students are provided a history and context for their significance. Projects include creating three dimensional rainforest creatures in Early Childhood, Japanese tea cups in Grade 1, ceramic ancient Mayan figurines in Grade 3, paintings of African masks in Grade 4, and paintings of Ancient Greek Urns in Grade 6. To view images of sample art projects, please click here.   

   African Mask 
   (Grade 4)


Multicultural Social Studies

Washington Episcopal School's Social Studies curriculum includes hands-on experience for students across all grades so that they to learn and appreciate cultures across the globe. Examples include:

  • Transition students re-enact Le Tour de France on the playground, with a bike race and celebration
  • Grade 3 students portray Heritage Heroes, reflecting the diverse culture at WES
  • Grade 5 students present a Native American "Museum"
  • Grade 6 students travel to the Desert Southwest to visit with Navaho Indians and learn how Mormon pioneers settled this area of the US
  • Grade 7 students embark on a 10-day journey to Italy to experience the Coliseum, the Roman Forum, St. Peter's Basilica, Pompeii, Assisi, Paestum, and more
  • Grade 8 students participate in educational and cultural exchanges with students from Paris, France and Granada, Spain

Click the links below to learn more about the Social Studies Curriculum:

         - Early Childhood
         - Primary
         - Elementary
         - Middle School

Affiliations, Conferences, and Workshops

DC Metro Diversity Advocates Association

WES is an active participant in the DC Metro Diversity Advocates Association (DCMDAA) and has hosted DCMDAA meetings in the recent past. Sample annual agenda items covered and discussed with the DCMDAA include “Black Men, Black Boys: Understanding the Connection,” “Hiring for Faculty Diversity,” “Equity and Early Childhood Education,” and "Assessing the Impact of the Financial Crisis on Schools.” 

Student Diversity Leadership Conference

A delegation of Grade 7 & 8 students regularly attend the Diversity Conference for Middle School Students. WES students have attended the conference for many years, and have been specially chosen to be peer facilitators for the past several years. This conference is designed to help students become more aware of issues of social justice and diversity in their everyday lives. In addition, in two years ago, six WES Grade 8 students led small group discussions and activities during the conference. These student leaders were trained by the Eastern Educational Resource Collaborative and facilitated several WES Middle School advisory activities and discussions related to bias and diversity prior to attending the conference. The delegation will continue attend the Leadership Conference, discuss issues related to diversity, and plan ways to bring additional awareness-raising activities to the entire WES Middle School.

Parents Council of Washington 

The Parents Council of Washington (PCW) is a consortium of approximately 50 independent schools in the Washington Metro area serving parents, school leaders, and students. PCW was founded in 1964 by parents who recognized the need within the independent school community for greater communication, information, and liaison opportunities to help parents and schools educate children responsibly. PCW welcomes all members of independent schools to participate.  

Black Student Fund

Washington Episcopal School is a member of the Black Student Fund (BSF). The BSF has provides financial assistance and support services to Washington, DC metropolitan area African-American students, grades pre-kindergarten to 12, and their families. BSF-assisted students stay in school, graduate high school with distinction and enter college. 

Established to racially desegregate the independent schools of the National Capital area, the Fund serves as an advocate for all black children and strives to assure that black students and their families have equal access to every educational opportunity.

Parent Book Club

WES has also held open forums for parents to choose and discuss interesting and timely books related to parenting school-age children. Selections that have been discussed include:

Eliot, Lise. Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow Into Troublesome Gaps- and What We Can Do About It
Bronson Po, and Merryman, Ashley. NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children.
Mogel, Wendy. The Blessings of A Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children
Kindlon, Dan, and Thompson, Michael. Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys
Coloroso, Barbara. The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander


Diversity, Equity, and Justice Committee 

In October 2015 WES formed the Diversity, Equity, and Justice Committee comprised of faculty and parents. The committee created three objectives for the committee’s work:

  1.  Assist school leadership in establishing leading practices and policies to ensure that all students, families, faculty, and staff are treated equitably and with respect.
  2. Help cultivate and promote a climate of justice, equity, service, civil discourse, and moral courage into the WES experience. 
  3. Serve as a third party objective resource on diversity related matters.

During this school year, the committee accomplished several goals. They developed a faculty and staff survey around professional development needs in areas of diversity and equity. The committee also created a framework for how WES will support students in the areas of gender identity and sexual orientation. In addition, the committee created a process for capturing accurate demographic data of students.

The committee looks forward to continuing collaboration next year. This summer the committee members will read Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald. Members will use the book to kick off the conversations in the fall to bring fresh perspectives and ideas to the work in diversity and equity.

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At Washington Episcopal School, our job is not complete until we have helped every child build a strong moral foundation based on ethics, kindness, and character. 

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