In just a few months, the oldest Parish students – the class of 2016 – will receive their diplomas and move a significant step closer to the “complex global society” which awaits them. Lost in the relative imminence of this event is this reality: today, the youngest students at Parish Episcopal are the class of 2030! This fact, which I frequently share with present and prospective parents of young children, never ceases to fill me with wonder. Today’s 5 year old PreK student will leave Parish in 2030, graduate from college and then, in 2034 (assuming a 4 year collegiate experience is still the predominate path), will enter the “complex global society” to which we refer in our revitalized mission statement.
Since August, I’ve used this space and my speaking opportunities to unfurl our refreshed mission statement and reflect on the theme of purpose. As we begin the year’s second half, I invite you to further reflect on our purpose as a school – an even more compelling exercise when considering our youngest learners.
What will that world of 2034 look like? What will the most daunting challenges be? The world is inarguably complex. Just reading the headlines dominating the news over the vacation, one sees a wide range of complicated issues demanding impactful leadership: the geopolitics of the war on terror; environmental sustainability; national and local infrastructure rebuilding; and income and educational equity and access. The list seems endless and certainly will be populated in the next two decades by a set of yet unforeseen challenges.
Indeed, our world will demand creative learners, bold leaders, and individuals impassioned and prepared to make a positive impact. Of these outcomes, to which Parish purposefully aspires, which one will be most essential? Is there a most important word or set of words in our mission statement?
The interconnectedness of the three outcome phrases makes this question provocative but nearly impossible to answer definitively. In fact, I could argue that the most important word isn’t in the above phrases but is tucked away in the midst of the statement. The word is “inclusive.”
While much of what tomorrow’s world holds in store for our PreK students of today remains unpredictable, this much seems certain: the country – and Dallas – will be much more diverse (as indicated in tables below).
Tomorrow’s bold leaders will need to think inclusively, bridging the gaps between people of different ethnic backgrounds, religious affiliations and socio-economic classes as they develop impactful solutions.
Tomorrow’s creative problem solvers will embrace the diversity of thought which stimulates innovative thinking. America’s top companies are investing in diversity and inclusion not because of political correctness but attentiveness to the bottom line. As the Diversity dividend analysis by McKinsey (right inset) suggests, purposefully inclusive companies outperform competitors.
Fortune Magazine recently released its list of the 50 Best Workplaces for Diversity with many recognizable and well regarded companies on it. Among them was Boston Consulting Group, whose President and CEO, Rich Lesser, said “we believe that passionate, open-minded people of all backgrounds ensure that BCG approaches problems from a broader perspective and challenges established ways of thinking.”
We at Parish share such sentiments and strive to live into the “inclusive Episcopal community” language of our mission statement. While we have much work to do, purposeful strides have been made.
- We are an increasingly diverse community, with 21 different faith groups represented on campus and 27% of our students representing different ethnic and racial backgrounds.
- This year, we appointed the School’s first Director of Diversity and Inclusivity. In this role, Tyneeta Canonge engages each of our constituencies – from the Board of Trustees, to parents, students, faculty and staff – to ensure programs, policies and perspectives reflect a commitment to inclusivity.
- In April, 2015, the Board of Trustees approved not only our revised mission statement but also the School’s first Diversity Statement, which articulates that our bold leaders will demonstrate “knowledge of and respect for the rich variety of people and points of view which exist in our complex global society.”
- For the 2015-16 school year, we granted over 2.5 million dollars in financial aid to 12 percent of our student body in our quest to ensure our community is socioeconomically more reflective of the broader Metroplex.
Each January, our Tri2 Legacy Event and Global Blast (visit link for participation/volunteer details) unite our community to celebrate the diversity in our midst. I invite you to join us on the afternoon of January 27 for our Global Blast activities and that evening when the Academy of Global Studies welcomes its second distinguished speaker of the year, Ambassador Brian Bowler, UN Ambassador to Malawi.
Building an inclusive community at Parish requires intentionality, fortitude and effort. But it’s among our most important imperatives. I recognize this when I look into the eyes of one of our 5 year old students and consider the world in which they will lead and serve.