Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Our Mission and Vision
The SAS Mission and Vision speak of inclusivity, opportunity, voice, empowerment, and the health and well-being of each individual in our community. SAS strives to build a community of individuals and families from diverse socio-economic backgrounds, cultures, races, religions, and sexual orientations to prepare our students to live in and serve a diverse and multicultural society. Our goal is a truly inclusive school community that welcomes and supports all of its members. We believe that the work of inclusion is the responsibility of all members of our community.
At SAS, we interact with individuals, but we also interact with their cultures and their beliefs...There is no way we could possibly leave these interactions without being changed.”
Sophia Patterson ’19, Trinity University ‘23
At SAS, we are striving to make God’s dream a reality as an inclusive Christian community. We still have a lot of work to do, especially in the area of recruiting a faculty and Board of Trustees that better reflect the diversity of our student body. It is work to which we are committed.KARL j. SJOLUND, HEAD OF SCHOOL
An Inclusive Christian Community
Since the beginning of our school’s history, our identity as an “inclusive Christian community” has remained central to our mission. We believe that Inclusion is more than just the tolerance of difference. Rather, the vibrant presence of differences in belief, gender, sexuality, faith tradition, race, ethnicity allows our community to grow more fully into what Desmond Tutu calls “God’s dream”: a community in which diversity is strength, where each child knows themselves as infinitely worthy and beloved of God, and where justice and forgiveness prevail over hatred and prejudice. As political divisions and systemic racism fray the bonds of our human family, we strive to make God’s dream a reality as an inclusive Christian community.
...we need not be paralyzed by our past or our present. We are not slaves to fate but people of faith. That work of racial reconciliation and justice – what we know as Becoming Beloved Community – is happening across our Episcopal Church...and it is work that belongs to all of us.The Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church
As an educational institution, much of the important work that we do takes place in the classroom. This is where students are challenged to expand their knowledge and understanding of the world they have experienced, of the world they have not yet experienced, and of the possibilities for a better future. To that end, our curriculum includes a diverse collection of voices and our classroom discussions include the most contentious topics of our day. We believe that by helping students to explore these issues in a safe environment, we are helping them to formulate their own beliefs and encouraging them to continue to assimilate new information as they gain new experiences.
DEI-themed Student Activities for 2021 include Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Movie Nights each month and SAS club and affinity group engagement. Movies showcased this year will be Moxie, Coco, Step Sisters, Soul, The Hate U Give, Love Simon, and Mulan (2020). Communication between the Asian Student Union (ASU), Black Student Union (BSU), and Gender & Sexualities Awareness (GSA) will allow students to participate in conversations that bring together groups with shared concerns regarding empowerment and fostering meaningful discussion of difficult topics. Clubs and affinity groups will have the opportunity to have books and reading lists specific to the shared interests of their club showcased in the library.
Creating a Safe Space for Difficult Conversations
Responding to concerns voiced by our students that we too often avoid difficult conversations surrounding DEI issues, study rooms in Agee Library have been designated as spaces for students, faculty, and staff to discuss current events, our shared history, and effect they have on members of our community.
All-school meetings, special events days, and Chapel provide additional opportunities for the SAS community to explore issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. For example, although we could not be together in-person, our 2021 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebrations included a chapel service with the assistance of SAS parent and Episcopal priest the Rev. Malcolm McLaurin followed by teach-ins led by SAS faculty and students. Topics included Henrietta Lacks: An Immortal Life, The Reconstruction Amendments, Student Activism in the Civil Rights Movement, Ely Green and the History of “Passing” in America, What Is White Privilege?, Racism and Voting: Myth vs. Reality, Nonviolent Protest and “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, and Sewanee in the Civil Rights Movement.
Thank you all! We learned a good deal about Henrietta Lacks and race in Sewanee from Ally sharing about her morning talks.
Heidi Syler, current parent
Jasmine Render ’14 returned to SAS in 2020 as an Admission Counselor and took on the role of DEI Coordinator in 2021. She is a graduate of University of West Georgia with a major in Mass Communications and a concentration in Digital Media and Telecommunications. As a student at UWG, Jazz was a social media intern for the university and created a communications plan for the school’s most successful student-run music events. She was promotions director and an on-air personality for the university’s radio station and received several awards for her work. After graduation, Jazz ran her own freelance photography, graphic design, special events, and custom apparel business.
A Small Sampling of Required Reading from the SAS Curriculum
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
African American Literature
Jubilee by Margaret Walker
Passing by Nella Larsen
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines
Ancient and Medieval Literature and Philosophy
The Popol Vuh
Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagan
Contemporary British Literature
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
Changing My Mind by Zadie Smith
Contemporary Modern Novel
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khalid Hosseini
Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
Harvest by Manjula Padmanabhan
Othello by William Shakespeare
Grade 7 Advisory
Harbor Me by Jaqueline Woodson
Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman
Kiss the Dust by Elizabeth Laird
Same Sun Here by Silas House and Neela Vaswani
The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox
Lyddie by Katherine Paterson.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Madness in Literature
A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
Modern and Contemporary Literature and Philosophy
The Hours by Michael Cunningham
Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
Place-Based American Studies
Ely: An Autobiography by Ely Green
Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
White Fragility by Robin Diangelo
The Mountaintop by Katori Hall
March by John Lewis