Inclusivity at CFS
Carolina Friends School as a Multicultural Community
“THERE IS THAT OF GOD IN EVERYONE” – A central belief in the Religious Society of Friends, also known as Quakers, is that the inner light present in every person joins us all as one human community. This belief informs every aspect of Carolina Friends School (CFS).
The story of Carolina Friends School is rooted in the long history of Quakers who worked to eliminate slavery, segregation, and other injustices. From this tradition CFS was founded in the early 1960’s as one of the first schools in the South deliberately to pursue a policy of racial integration [at left, an early Lower School classroom]. Our belief in the innate worth of each person and in the uniquely valuable heritage of every cultural group guides our practice as a multicultural community and our commitment to authentic personal relationships and peaceful resolution of conflict, at CFS and in our lives outside of School.
The School’s commitment to multiculturalism is evident in ongoing efforts to foster an environment of inclusivity. Admission and hiring committees seek to attract and retain families and staff members who strengthen diversity, as we seek to be as representative of our local environs as possible. The School provides tuition assistance to help reduce socioeconomic barriers that might limit access to a CFS education.
Our staff models appreciation and respect for diversity and endeavors to provide a curriculum rich in multiculturalism. Age-appropriate lessons and activities are incorporated throughout the School. Younger students learn about and celebrate traditions from many cultures. For older students, outreach and connections with people from other schools, organizations, and countries are an integral part of the curriculum.
The challenge and goal of Carolina Friends School is to help each student participate fully in a dynamic community of learners, in essence “bringing their whole selves to school.” Through this process, our students strive to understand their own gifts and the gifts of others, to use these gifts to serve and empower, and to seek truth and justice, at CFS and beyond.
Revised Fall 2010
Learn more about CFS' origins in the early 1960s as an integrated school, one of the first in the South, in an interview with co-founders Peter and Martha Klopfer.
Beverly A. Scarlett serves as a district court judge in Chatham and Orange Counties. Recently, she contributed an essay to a collection called 27 Views of Hillsborough: A Southern Town in Prose and Poetry. In “Views of the Eno,” she speaks about the role the integrated CFS played in her childhood:
Carolina Friends School, located in the countryside not far from town, was actively recruiting African American children to attend its summer camp. Party lines buzzed with the news. African American families were intrigued that they were being asked to send their children to a private school summer camp with white children….
One morning in early summer Don and Darlene Wells from the Friends School visited my family. They explained the school’s mission to my mother and asked if my sisters and I could attend the summer camp….
There I learned techniques in conflict resolution, finding one’s inner peace, and appreciating nature. I canoed, rode horses, and finger-painted. While my world in Hillsborough continued to be defined in black and white, the Friends School offered a glimpse of the array of colors that create the human rainbow. I vividly remember watching an Asian gentleman pick up his children every day. Each afternoon he stood on the stairs at the top of the hill and called the family name. Each afternoon an Asian child, an African American child, and a white child answered his call. As a preschooler, I wasn’t sure how that family came to be but I knew there was something special about it.
27 Views of Hillsborough was chosen by the CFS Parent-Staff Association as the 2010-2011 Community Read selection.
Alumni parent Elizabeth Woodman and her Hillsborough-based Eno Publishers brought 27 Views to fruition; three former CFS staff members and an alumni parent all contributed to the book. You can hear Judge Scarlett and other authors in the book visiting with guest host Laura Leslie on WUNC’s The State of Things.
Please learn more about CFS' efforts to be a welcoming home for members of the LGBTIQ communities, including our statements against HB2 (2016) and Amendment One (2012).
Hiring and Admission
Carolina Friends School strongly encourages and supports applications from qualified candidates of diverse backgrounds in order to foster its mission of diversity, inclusivity and equity.
CFS is an equal opportunity employer in both policy and practice.
Carolina Friends School actively strives to be a community of staff, students, and families of diverse backgrounds. CFS does not discriminate based on age, race, color, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, disability, socio-economic background, family structure, national or ethnic origin, genetic information, or military service in the administration of its policies and program.
In fact, CFS aspires to be a community where all members can bring their whole selves. We seek to live out our Quaker belief in seeing the light within each person.
CFS' academic program includes relevant content integrated throughout a course and entire courses focused on aspects of diversity and inclusivity, from the Harlem Renaissance and Inquiry into Identity ("the opportunity to thoughtfully consider and reflect on issues of race, class, and gender, how these issues play a role in our own identities, and what this means as we interact in the world today") in the Middle School to Gender Studies and World Religions in the Upper School.
The hands-on end-of-year programs for older students also include offerings focused on diversity and inclusivity, from Fiesta (focused on the cultural heritage of the Caribbean, Central America, and South America) and the civil rights bus tour of the South for Middle Schoolers to the ninth-grade class experience with migrant farm labor communities in eastern North Carolina and 10th through 12th-grade trips to places such as Ecuador, France, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Quebec, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad.
Diversity and Inclusivity Committee
For example, the Committee organized the March 2015 all-staff development program facilitated by Dr. Tema Okun of the Dismantling Racism Works (dRworks) non-profit collaborative.The Diversity and Inclusivity Committee comprises representatives from units across the School and meets regularly (after school and on an annual retreat) to advance racial equity work at CFS.
The Committee was also responsible for the August 2015 staff retreat continuing this racial equity work--facilitated by nationally-renowned educator, speaker, and trainer Rosetta Lee from Seattle Girls' School (Washington).
In conjunction with Dr. Okun and dRworks, the group is planning three follow-up staff development days during the 2015-2016 school year.
Staff members regularly avail themselves of professional development offerings, including:
CFS Upper Schoolers also attend the Student Diversity Leadership Conference held in conjunction with the NAIS People of Color Conference. In December 2015, two staff members and four students (one senior and three juniors) will be attending the Tampa PoCC and SDLC gatherings.
Diversity and Multicultural Group
The Upper School Diversity and Multicultural Club (DMC) is an affinity group for students who self-identify as a racial or ethnic minority. The group was formed to provide support and a safe space for students to discuss issues of identity, attitudes about race, current topics in the media and personal experiences related to being a minority. We share stories, watch videos, discuss queries, and plan outreach activities to spark dialogue within the larger community. We hold “safe space” meetings (closed for minority students only) and “brave space” meetings (open to all students) to promote dialogue and inclusivity within our community.
This group was initiated in 2015-2016 by faculty contact Asiya Gusa and she continues to serve in this capacity. The group meets every week at lunch.
Triangle Diversity Alliance
Carolina Friends is a founding member of the Triangle Diversity Alliance (TDA). This consortium of local independent schools nurtures student leadership potential through the annual Triangle Diversity Alliance Conference, most recently hosted at CFS in Fall 2012. Students attend and present workshops aimed at affirming identity and connect with peers from other schools.
Triangle Faculty and Staff of Color (FSOC)
The Triangle Faculty and Staff of Color (FSOC) was initiated in 2015-2016 by the Triangle Heads of School with Asiya Gusa as acting liaison and CFS hosting the inaugural gathering. The goals of the group were to 1) to compile a list of interested staff of color at area independent schools, 2) to contact those staff and invite them to attend an initial gathering/mixer, 3) to share and compare notes on diversity efforts at our schools, and 4) to use each other as a support and networking system. Building these relationships to support staff of color in our schools will likely strengthen the partnerships between our schools and ultimately strengthen the diversity work at our schools.
CFS staff of color also gather periodically for lunch together.
Parents of Students of Color
Work is underway to launch a Parents of Students of Color (PSOC) group, with an initial gathering on April 26, 2016, so please stay tuned!
The School often hosts speakers, panels, and other programs, from a photo exhibit of two adopted CFS students' return visit to their native Ethiopia to a visit by internationally-acclaimed African-American poet, novelist, literary critic, and editor Dr. Nathaniel Mackey.
In 2010, for example, we welcomed filmmaker André Robert Lee to campus to share his documentary The Prep School Negro. He returned in April 2015 to present I'm Not Racist...Am I?, in which 12 New York City high school students explore questions of race and racism across a year. The frank conversation afterwards led to a follow-up evening in May, the Beloved Community Dinner-Dialogue, the launch of an ongoing series of such gatherings for CFS and non-CFS community members in 2015-2016.