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BREADCRUMB

CLIMATE OF INCLUSION

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July 7, 2021

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

Notre Dame parents, staff/faculty, alumni and students share feedback in community-wide survey.


This past spring, the Notre Dame community took part in a comprehensive two-part assessment of inclusivity and multiculturalism, a study of the school’s climate and its progress in the areas of diversity and inclusion. The rigorous qualitative and quantitative analysis was administered by both the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and ISM (Independent School Management) and offers a window for how the school can create a sense of belonging for everyone in its community.

“Through this process, we examined every aspect of the school — its culture, leadership, academic program, student life, parent and alumni involvement, and more,” said Kala Parker, Notre Dame’s director of diversity and inclusion.

The first part of the assessment, the qualitative analysis, featured seven virtual roundtable discussions designed to cover all aspects of the school: teaching and learning, parent and guardian involvement, faculty and staff involvement, admissions and financial aid, alumni involvement, school governance/leadership, and student life. Each discussion included a mixture of faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, coaches, and students to ensure voices were heard from all walks of the Notre Dame experience.

A two-week quantitative survey was then administered to parents, students, faculty and staff, and alumni in April. Students had the highest response rate (71.8 percent completed out of 804 surveys), followed by faculty (44.3 percent completed out of 262 surveys), parents (23 percent completed out of 1,662 surveys), and alumni (6.3 percent completed out of 3,200). Participants were asked questions around the themes of “safe,” “equitable,” “just” and “affirming,” using the Likert scale to rate their responses. Example topics included, “I feel like my colleagues respect me for who I am” or “I feel comfortable expressing my experiences related to race (gender) at this school, among other topics.”

“The general trends we saw across the board include placing more emphasis in the following areas: inclusivity in the classroom; anti-intimidation/sensitivity training, bias/prejudice training; equitable discipline/restorative justice/training for staff, and mental health support,” Parker said.

“It was eye-opening to see our areas of success, but also our areas of opportunity that were consistent across all constituent groups. One of our biggest takeaways was that, when it comes to day-to-day experiences, there seems to be a definite disconnect between what the kids experience and what the parents see as their students’ experience,” Parker added.

For example, students responded that they “don’t often know who to go to” when they have concerns around diversity, while parents assume that students do know. In addition, students who responded to the survey said that they “don’t feel comfortable being their authentic self” while parents assume that students are free to be themselves.


With the survey complete, the DEI committee compiled a full report, complete with recommendations to present to the school board later. The board will then approve strategic goals and measurable objectives in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Implementation and programming will follow beginning in the 2021-2022 school year. Once the final report and recommendations are presented to the board and strategic goals are determined, a summary of the report as well as strategic goals will be shared with the greater Notre Dame community, Parker said.

In reflecting on the rollout of the survey, participation among constituent groups, and what could have been done differently to increase survey response rates, particularly among young alumni, Parker said the DEI committee is taking much-needed time to evaluate its processes for the future.

“There was definitely a learning curve since this was our first time doing such a large-scale effort in this area,” Parker said. “We have learned a lot about drafting questions to ensure you are getting to the heart of any issues that exist, as well as analyzing data for trends to develop recommendations. This process was so specific to our school, our culture and the DEI growth that we are working toward. We look forward to continuing to move the needle in this work.”

Overall, she said, the committee is happy with the data collected and eager to dive deeper into the community’s feedback.

“This focus on diversity, equity and inclusion is about our entire community—students, faculty/staff, administration, coaches, and alumni. All these groups are integral parts of our history, and all have a stake in our future. Our goal is to be a safe, just, equitable and affirming community for all,” Parker said.

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

Comments or questions? mkelly@ndpma.org

Follow Notre Dame on Twitter at @NDPMA.

About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame Preparatory School enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three schools are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the National Association of Independent Schools. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school’s home page at www.ndpma.org.