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Updates from the DEI Task Force

Dear FASNY Parents, Alumni, Parents of Alumni, Faculty & Staff, 
 
I am pleased to announce to our greater FASNY community that we have hired a Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Isabelle Toussaint. In this role, Isabelle will partner with Division Heads and Senior Leadership to oversee all DEI initiatives inclusive of curriculum and pedagogy, student leadership and education, faculty & staff education and professional development, recruiting, networking, and hiring. We are proud of the work we have accomplished so far, and we look forward to Isabelle’s leadership continuing to take us further in providing an inclusive community where everyone is seen, heard and feels respected. 
 
In addition to her Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Director role, Isabelle will also act as the Assistant Head of Middle School to support the Middle School team in all aspects, and align our leadership teams across all campuses. Please join me in welcoming Isabelle to the FASNY team. 
 
A big thank you to the search committee who assisted in the search and interview process to fill this important position. Isabelle’s role will take effect this summer in anticipation of the 2021-2022 school year, she will begin to get to know our community and its’ members beginning this spring. Please continue reading to find important updates from the DEI Task Force and to learn more about Isabelle below. 
 
Sincerely, 
Francis Gianni
 
An update from the DEI Task Force:
 
In the months since our last update, our FASNY team has been hard at work in many areas, making meaningful progress in our DEI efforts. Today, we are happy to share some of those important updates.
 
First, we must reiterate that FASNY is proud to be a diverse, international community. We are appalled and heartbroken at the recent rise in hate crimes and violence against Asians across the country. We strongly and proudly stand with our Asian families to denounce these events and racism of any kind. As a community, we are committed to continuing our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion work for the safety and well-being of all within our FASNY family. 
 
At the start of the school year, we presented the domains our Task Force focused on and many of the long and short-term goals created within our initial work. Despite simultaneously managing COVID-19 safety protocols and intense efforts to keep our students safe and in-school, we have made great strides in putting goals into action. There are many efforts still in progress or continually ongoing but here are some updates on what we’ve implemented since our last communication:
  • Improved Racial Diversity on the Board of Trustees
  • Updated our Mission statement to speak more directly to DEI
  • Modified the Code of Conduct to include anti-racism in all handbooks for both students & faculty & staff
  • Constantly reviewing all syllabi and teaching practices in order to include positive representations of historically marginalized racial, ethnic, gender, and other groups; identify implicit biases; and protect and welcome all students 
  • Reading lists are continuously updating to highlight Black excellence, and the American history curriculum is no longer a single story 
  • Building Resource Libraries for students, faculty & staff as we find more useful materials to share
  • Developing inclusive classroom communities that protect and welcome all students 
  • Using Home Rooms to discuss issues real-time as they arise. School assemblies in partnership with the Social Justice Club to discuss DEI topics. 
  • Created a post for Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at the leadership level - keep reading to meet our new hire
  • Hiring practices expanded to reach more BIPOC
  • Continuing to grow our International program in all divisions as an additional path to DEI in our student population
  • Showcasing all of our students and our authentic diversity in marketing and communications endeavors
Finally, you may recall that over the summer we partnered with world-renown diversity practioner Dr. Derrick Gay to assist in our efforts. Throughout the year, Dr. Gay has met multiple times with our faculty & staff, the Board of Trustees, the DEI Task Force, and groups of teachers. Today, we are pleased to invite all of you to join him for two workshops: 
  • Tuesday, March 16, 7pm - 8:30pm - Workshop 1: Fundamentals of DEI
  • Wednesday, April 21, 7pm - 8:30pm - Workshop 2: Fundamentals of Race 
*Zoom links will be shared prior to the meeting dates. 
 
Through all of these actions and initiatives, we have begun to implement meaningful changes on our three campuses, but our work will continue as we listen, learn, and grow. The entire DEI Task Force thanks you for your continued support. 
 
Sincerely, 
The DEI Task Force
 
Meet Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for the entire school:
Isabelle Toussaint
Isabelle Toussaint is an educator with over two decades of experience in independent schools in the US and internationally, most recently spending the last 14 years at The Hewitt School in New York City. While at Hewitt, she has held numerous leadership positions in the areas of curriculum, student life, and diversity, and inclusivity. Her aptness at recognizing and adapting curriculum to reflect students’ positive identity development as well as the inclusion of wide-ranging perspectives of languages, were indeed hallmarks of her work. Isabelle’s DEI efforts include collaborating with students to find the upper school’s first affinity group for students of color, initiating family community dialogues, collaborating with faculty on diverse curriculum perspectives, DEI training for faculty and staff, and supporting the middle and upper schools advisory programming. She has also facilitated and presented at the annual NAIS People of Color Conference for a number of years, the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools Conference, and numerous NYSAIS conferences on the topics of design thinking and social justice. 
 
Isabelle was born on the island of Mauritius and speaks English, French, Creole, Spanish, some Mandarin, and basic Italian. She started her career as a language teacher and department chair in Sydney, Australia, following the completion of her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at the University of Sydney. Most recently in 2020, Isabelle graduated from The University of Pennsylvania, with an M.S.Ed in School Leadership. Isabelle says she looks forward to meeting and getting to know the FASNY community, "I am excited about this role because FASNY by its nature teaches students to be outward looking not just in their studies but also life experiences."
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French-American School of New York International and Bilingual School