Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at MMA
Merion Mercy strives to strengthen our community and broaden our vision and understanding of living mercy and seeking justice to build a truly authentic and inclusive community. Guided by our Mercy mission, we deepen our understanding and appreciation of a diverse community and recognize the ongoing opportunities in listening to and learning from one another.
Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Merion Mercy will strengthen our community and broaden our vision and understanding of living mercy and seeking justice. We commit to:
Growing in our awareness and our understanding of diversity and inclusion issues.
Expanding our appreciation for the diversity in our school community and in our world.
Fostering a school culture of inclusion that is open, respectful, and appreciative of the diversity among us that enables all to participate and contribute to our Mercy community.
Creating opportunities for dialogue that deepen our understanding of realities and perceptions which may inhibit a culture of inclusion so we can intentionally promote a more inclusive culture.
Ensuring that policies, procedures, practices and behavior are consistent with our Mission and Core Values and reflect the inclusive community we aspire to be.
Taking action to break down barriers.
Our DEI Plan for Action
We will hold professional development for faculty, staff and students to improve our school climate, address microaggressions in the classroom and community, and actively confront bias.
We will conduct a faculty-led review of curriculum, with the guidance of a diversity practitioner, to ensure that students encounter diversity of ideas, historical perspectives, and voices in the content of the curriculum. We commit to making changes that result in a curriculum that is historically and culturally broader and more inclusive.
We will focus on more programming that celebrates cultural diversity, promotes allyship, and provides time and space necessary for difficult conversations. Grade-level retreats will be planned to encourage class unity. Student affinity groups will be enhanced to provide students with opportunities to share experiences, perspectives, and challenges with others who may have had similar experiences while also prioritizing student agency and leadership development. Students will be further empowered to lead in planning and action items, especially related to DEI.
We continue to update policies and practices and have made the hiring of a diverse faculty and staff an institutional priority for the school.
Student Programming and Activities
MMA’s Black Student Union (BSU) celebrated and honored Juneteenth through the arts and talent of its members through prayer, singing, dancing, and poetry and a Jeopardy game to test their knowledge of Juneteenth’s history. BSU incoming President Amber Wiggins '21 shared, “Juneteenth inspires me to spread today’s history through traditions, celebrations, and commemoration. Today we rejoice and reflect on the accomplishments of those behind us. And, I look forward to witnessing how we honor Juneteenth as a national holiday in the future.”
Click here for Juneteenth resources and opportunities.
Black Student Union Leads All-School Event
The Black Student Union hosted and programmed an assembly to honor Black History month. The club incorporated prayerful reflection, poetry, live music, and dancing into the all-school event.
Founded in the 2018-19 school year, the Black Student Union is an organization created to unite African-Americans in the MMA community, provide education about Black heritage, history, and culture, and raise awareness in the school community about the challenges facing African Americans today.
A.S.I.A. Club: One of Four New Clubs that Launched in the 2019-20 School Year
The A.S.I.A. (Asian Students In America) Club began its first year as a Merion club last school year. The A.S.I.A. Club works to introduce and preserve the Asian cultures at MMA and explores different cultures and topics including pop culture, folk tales, language, music, and social problems in societies today. Events from the 2019-20 school year included creating Japanese origami, writing names in Korean, and snacking on Vietnamese treats.
23+Me: Sisterhood is in our DNA—Freshman Experience
With the knowledge that freshman orientation extends well beyond a couple of days of introductions, meetings, and tours, the spring term presented a time for personal growth, class bonding, and further discovery of sisterhood. As we launched into the spring semester, a series of immersive and interactive activities took place, including: "Sister Soldier"—a workshop to learn the whys and hows of taking a stand to build sisterhood and empower your fellow sisters; and "Drum Like a Lady"—an all-female, black percussion band that focuses on wellness, female empowerment, and the importance of using your voice to "drum up" positive change in the world.
People of Color Conference/Student Diversity Leadership Conference
Merion Mercy administrators, faculty, and students attended the People of Color Conference (PoCC)/Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC), the flagship of the National Association of Independent Schools' commitment to equity and justice in teaching and learning, in Seattle in early December 2019.
The mission of PoCC is to provide a safe space for leadership and professional development and networking for people of color and allies of all backgrounds in independent schools. PoCC equips educators at every level, from teachers to trustees, with knowledge, skills, and experiences to improve and enhance the interracial, interethnic, and intercultural climate in their schools, as well as the attending academic, social-emotional, and workplace performance outcomes for students and adults alike.
SDLC is a multiracial, multicultural gathering of upper school student leaders from across the U.S. and abroad. SDLC focuses on self-reflecting, forming allies, and building community. Led by a diverse team of trained adult and peer facilitators, participating students develop cross-cultural communication skills, design effective strategies for social justice practice through dialogue and the arts, and learn the foundations of allyship and networking principles. In addition to large group sessions, SDLC "family groups" and "home groups" allow for dialogue and sharing in smaller units.
Villanova University Program: "Responding to Everyday Bias with Dialogue"
Dr. Teresa Nance, PhD, Associate Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion at Villanova University, along with eleven Villanova faculty members led students, faculty and staff in a half-day program entitled "Responding to Everyday Bias with Dialogue" in February 2020. The program included a whole-group presentation in the gym followed by separate student and staffulty breakout sessions.
Rho Kappa's Common Hour
Inspired by the tradition of many smaller liberal arts colleges, the Common Hour is an opportunity for all members of the Merion Mercy community to engage in a collective discussion of a contemporary social issue through the lens of academic scholarship. For the 2019-20 school year, the focal point for the Common Hour was on the intersection of the Critical Concerns of the Sisters of Mercy with the best practices of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Hosted by MMA's Rho Kappa (Social Studies Honor Society) Dr. Carol Rittner, RSM, Distinguished Professor of Holocaust & Genocide Studies Emerita, Stockton University, spoke on her recently published book, The Holocaust and the Christian World.
Mercy + Social Justice
The Sisters of Mercy ask us to focus on their guiding principles; they ask us to “work passionately to eliminate poverty, the widespread denial of human rights, the degradation of earth, the increase in violence and racism, the continued oppression of women, the abuse of children, the mistreatment of immigrants and the lack of solidarity among people and nations.”
Click here to learn more about the Sisters of Mercy and their mission and critical concerns.