Diversity, Culture, and Climate
St. Joseph's Academy is called forth by our founders, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, to "serve the Dear Neighbor without distinction."
St. Joseph’s Academy’s commitment to Diversity, Culture, and Climate (DCC) invites our community to recognize and acknowledge that all people are created in the image of God with each person bringing unique gifts to the community. As a community, we engender empathy, understanding and curiosity to develop a deeper awareness of equity and inclusion as it relates to gender, race, faith, socioeconomic circumstances and sexual identity, as well as individual talents and learning styles in a college preparatory environment.
Please see below to view St. Joseph’s Academy’s “A Commitment to Diversity.”
- A Commitment to Diversity
- Standing Against Racism
- Strategic Approach
- DCC Committee
- Tactical Approaches
- Cultural Norms
At St. Joseph’s Academy, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet’s (CSJ) charism of unifying love and living in right relationship are the bedrock for diversity, equity and inclusion.
As a CSJ institution, we are called to move always “toward love of God and love of neighbor without distinction.” Throughout our history, the CSJs have “served the Dear Neighbor,” who may be of another culture, ethnicity, race, age, socioeconomic circumstance, faith, gender or sexual identity. The spirit and action of inclusivity continues to be expressed today, as we live out our school motto, “Not I, But We.” Christ calls us to love others as he would love us as well as to be merciful as God is merciful; therefore, we are called as an SJA community to do the same.
St. Joseph’s Academy’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion invites our community to recognize and acknowledge all people being created with dignity and in the image of God; a recognition that each person brings many gifts to the community; and with a humility that engenders empathy, understanding and curiosity to develop a deeper awareness of a fuller sense of equity and inclusion as it relates to gender, race, faith, socioeconomic circumstances, sexual identity, as well as individual talents and learning styles in a college preparatory environment.
We recognize that the attainment of an environment that is fully diverse, equitable and inclusive is a journey, not a moment of achievement. As we “move towards the more” within the hallmarks of our welcoming and affirming community, together we will:
- Foster open, respectful conversations about our unique differences.
- Commit to providing a safe environment for authentic dialogue by using the SJA Cultural Norms.
- Practice “respect for self and others” by appreciating interests, opinions and perspectives outside of our individual world views.
- Work to deepen our cultural understanding of one another by knowing and walking with others who are not like ourselves, ultimately recognizing a deep connectedness in our human family.
- Perpetuate an informed network of young women equipped to “make a profound impact” in a multicultural world and global society.
Emanating from the CSJ charism to accomplish our goals of inclusivity, we invite each member of our school community to:
- Understand and develop a personal authenticity that fosters unification through contemplation and loving collaboration.
- Listen attentively so we can speak, work, teach and learn freely with each other.
- Critically analyze the power structures that elevate and suppress particular differences.
- Grow in our relationship with God and others, so that we become more aware of our own human limitations by challenging biases and historical limitations.
- Stand with the voiceless.
- Fully embrace our community spirit of “Not I, But We,” recognizing that we can accomplish more together than we can apart.
"May they all be one as you Father are in me and I am in you. May they be one in us; so that the world may believe that you have sent me." John 17:21
St. Joseph’s Academy Anti-Racism Statement
“… racism still profoundly affects our culture, and it has no place in the Christian heart. This evil causes great harm to its victims, and it corrupts the souls of those who harbor racist or prejudicial thoughts.”1
As a Catholic institution founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet (CSJ), St. Joseph’s Academy stands against racism in all of its forms. In response to the reality of racism in the world today, and our call by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ 2018 pastoral letter Open Wide Our Hearts1, we resolve to actively work to combat the sin of racism and more fully embrace our core values as a CSJ institution in both our words and deeds by “loving God and the Dear Neighbor without distinction.” Each human being is our neighbor and is deserving of love without distinction.
As the bishops declared in this pastoral letter, “Racism arises when—either consciously or unconsciously—a person holds that his or her own race or ethnicity is superior, and therefore judges persons of other races or ethnicities as inferior and unworthy of equal regard. When this conviction or attitude leads individuals or groups to exclude, ridicule, mistreat, or unjustly discriminate against persons on the basis of their race or ethnicity, it is sinful. Racist acts are sinful because they violate justice. They reveal a failure to acknowledge the human dignity of the persons offended, to recognize them as the neighbors Christ calls us to love (Mt 22:39).”1
It is our duty as a Catholic school and as members of the human family to work to better understand the effects of racism and ultimately, stand against racism. St. Joseph’s Academy recognizes that every person within our school and larger community brings a unique history, perspective and experience. Therefore, “love of the Dear Neighbor without distinction” must be more than words that we frequently proclaim. To be true to our mission, St. Joseph’s Academy commits to stand against racism by:
- Fostering and maintaining a welcoming and inclusive environment where all students, faculty, and staff are embraced and celebrated for who they are
- Committing to our SJA Cultural Norms2 to encourage genuine and respectful communication, grounded in our motto, “Not I, But We”
- Engaging in diversity and inclusion education for all students, faculty, and staff
- Forming a more culturally competent SJA community by continual examination of the school curriculum through an inclusive lens, whereby we name and challenge racism where it is observed
- Addressing incidents of racism immediately, decisively, and in an ongoing way
- Holding members of our community accountable for acts of racism consistent with our handbooks
- Collaborating with other schools and organizations on seminars, classes, and lectures of interest in this area
- Benchmarking and analyzing progress in an ongoing way and implementing change when needed
- Continuing to foster a culture of inclusivity that intentionally attracts and retains diverse students, faculty, and staff
- Amplifying the voices of marginalized groups within our school and larger community that contributes to a climate that values multiple perspectives
By committing to these actions, every member of the St. Joseph’s Academy community is challenged to live out our mission of growing in faith, knowledge, and respect for self and others.
1Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love - A Pastoral Letter Against Racism Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; November 2018; https://www.usccb.org/resources/open-wide-our-hearts_0.pdf 2© 2020
In 2016-2017, St. Joseph’s Academy hired a diversity consultant to perform a cultural audit. As a result, we have several main areas of our school community that are actively working to advance our commitment to diversity, culture, and climate:
- Increase diversity within our student body
- Enhance the curriculum to reflect culturally competent content and teaching
- Engage the SJA community in diversity, culture, and climate awareness and training
- Teach Catholic social justice in our curriculum
- Provide a safe space for all to communicate ideas and collaborate on various projects
- Recognize biases and acknowledge differences by leaning into discomfort
- Value multiple perspectives by addressing issues that pertain to race, class, gender, identity and religion
Each year, as we engage in this work, we enhance the depth and the breadth of our journey. As an overall school community (which includes the faculty, students, and families), we are intentionally partnering with local organizations, non-profits, small businesses, and community members to expand the walls of the school to include the larger St. Louis community.
SJA’s faculty and staff are committed to carrying out the work of the community’s DCC efforts:
- Professional development consists of discussions, conferences, workshops and “Lunch and Learn” events.
- DCC Committee of the faculty and staff
- A faculty-led Courageous Conversations group meets regularly to discuss various videos, articles, podcasts, books, and documentaries related to Diversity, Culture, and Climate topics.
- Professional DCC training about a variety of topics, including bias and unconscious-bias, dialogue about race and building an inclusive climate.
- Expand knowledge about culturally competent teaching.
- Develop a curriculum that reflects an accurate, authentic and inclusive education.
- SJA’s Diversity Club was established in 2011 and engages and organizes various student and community events. The club’s purpose is to uphold DCC at St. Joseph’s Academy.
- Leadership opportunities with local and national organizations.
- Heritage month celebrations with entire student body participation.
- Freshman Experience: A program to help our freshmen to make the most of their high school experience in diversity, culture, and climate.
- Provide affinity groups for students to connect with others who share similar aspects of their identity.
Family are encouraged to be active in the St. Joe community by volunteering at and attending various events. We have opportunities for family to speak to classes and help with club events. For more information, please contact Dr. Julia Wilkins Kohrmann.
In 2017, in effort to foster an environment that reflects the charism of the CSJs and to promote Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, we have established the following Cultural Norms which encourage genuine and respectful communication, grounded in our motto, “Not I, But We.” These norms are shared in every classroom to help to grow as a community and become more courageous within our conversations.
Assume Positive Intent
- Choose to see the good and value in the other person’s thoughts, ideas, feelings, etc.
- Approach situations with the spirit that people want what is best
- Be vulnerable instead of being defensive or judgmental
- Remain open to information, seeking for the truth and to understand someone else’s thoughts, ideas and feelings
Speak From the "I" Perspective
- Speak in the first person, taking ownership of your own viewpoint, experience, feelings, thoughts, etc.
- Use “I” statements when sharing in a group because we only truly know how we feel and think
Be Crisp; Say What Is Core
- Get to the point with tact, understanding, diplomacy and thoughtfulness
- Say what you mean, mean what you say
- Say what is needed and do not beat around the bush, ramble or shift ideas
Value Multiple Perspectives
- Take in, listen to, value and respect others’ thoughts, insights, feelings, experiences, etc.
- Recognize what is in another’s perspective that can inform your own
- Engage in the opportunity to walk in another person’s shoes
- Be open minded
- Be willing to take a risk and change
- When necessary, agree to disagree
Be Fully Present, Listen, Then Respond
- Give all your attention to the person in front of you, focusing on the moment and the conversation
- Make eye contact and listen intentionally and actively
- Pay attention, process and reflect on what the other person is saying, and wait to form your response and to speak
- Ask for clarity and/or repeat ideas back for clarification
- Allow silence to provide space for all to fully form thoughts and opinions before talking
- Be with your thoughts/process information before speaking and responding
Lean Into Discomfort
- Embrace vulnerability and go outside your comfort zone
- Engage with purpose in experiences/conversations that make you uncomfortable
- Be comfortable with the process of forming a new idea/opinion; understand that you might offend, but assume positive intent
- Revel in the unknown and the confusion that can lead to new/different experiences, conversations, outlooks, etc.
- Recognize discomfort as an opportunity to grow and accept new opinions/viewpoints
- Take risks and be willing to make mistakes
- Be willing: to experiment without fear of failure, to start something without knowing the outcome, and to try something new so as to become better
- Participate in being a lifelong learner, having a growth mindset
Accept Conflict as a Catalyst for Change
- Be open to opposing/different perspectives
- Take the opposing idea, position, interest, desire, etc. or disagreement and turn it into a new way forward
- Allow the disagreement to provide the possibility/opportunity for growth even if not initially agreed upon
- Be entrusted with private information
- Hold another person’s information as sacred allowing only that person to tell her own story