The VMS Rolling Strategic Plan, introduced in September 2021, includes an Inclusion & Belonging initiative in accordance with ACIS and NAIS accreditation. Vail Mountain school is partnering with EXPLO Elevate to help us carefully approach this initiative in a disciplined manner. EXPLO Elevate will consult, assess our current Inclusion & Belonging environment, and present a path forward that is based on stakeholder input, research, and realistic outcomes. This process will include four stages that will take place throughout the 2021 - 2022 school year:
- Understanding: EXPLO Elevate will help us understand our current Inclusion & Belonging journey to date as well as our constituents' experiences and perspectives.
- Augmenting: This phase will support our Inclusion & Belonging initiatives by analyzing what is happening outside of our school and our immediate community.
- Sharing and Refining: EXPLO Elevate will share data and an initial set of recommendations as a baseline for conversations with the Board of Trustees and our Leadership Team.
- Roadmap Creation and Future Implementation: The final stage will include a roadmap for the future and suggestions for checkpoints.
Over the summer of 2020, a group of VMS alumni, current students, and faculty came together to create the VMS Equity Initiative. This group’s vision is to make VMS a school that supports students from systematically marginalized identities while elevating their voices, that diversifies school spaces, and creates a learning environment that is sensitive to the implicit and explicit biases that exist both in our community and beyond. A VMS alumna who participated in the committee stated, “I got to college and so many people I hadn’t met before were comfortable and excited talking about diversity, indigenous rights, and other topics I didn’t know about and I would like to empower future students to have tools that give them the ability to join in those discussions.” The VMS Equity Initiative committee is interested in a sustainable discourse around race relations at VMS. VMS faculty took the handoff from this committee and moved forward to continue their work during the school year by forming the Diversity and Equity Think Tank.
The journey continues as faculty reflect on their observations and begin to empathize more directly. Ultimately, VMS is building towards more education and accountability. The initial goal is to notice and observe so that, eventually, meaningful change can occur. Additionally, students will form a student branch of the VMS Equity Initiative as part of our existing student leadership structure.
One current VMS student remarked, “I know there is so much I don’t know about and that there is an entire world that I don’t think about and I think this is important because I know there are a lot of students just like me who need to start learning and listening."
Why Inclusion & Belonging?
While many terms apply to the work we are doing: diversity, inclusion, justice, equity, etc., we have made the decision to identify this initiative as Inclusion & Belonging. We believe this title expresses what we are trying to accomplish: creating an environment of kindness and compassion for all. This terminology is consistent with many other independent schools.
What Does This Mean For My Child?
Our work with EXPLO Elevate will be thoughtfully continued throughout the 2021 - 2022 school year in a disciplined, well thought out way. This will be a year of information-gathering in order to determine a comprehensive and effective path forward.
Share Your Thoughts
Thank you for sharing your feedback about the VMS Inclusion & Belonging program and/or about our school's efforts overall. Comments will be delivered directly to the Vail Mountain School leadership team. While all will be read, we cannot promise a personal response to each message. To protect respondents' privacy, we will not post or share comments publicly.