Community Life, Equity & Diversity

~ Ellen C. Stein, Head of School

Dalton is committed with clear intention to being a diverse and equitable learning community. The school strives, not only to reach this goal, but also to explain why it is one of our priorities and how it can be achieved. To do this, there must be a continuing dialogue among us all. Dalton's substantive commitment to becoming a diverse community takes clarity of purpose that can be reached only when we share our thinking and our goals. It is in that spirit that I want to share a few of my thoughts with you.

The question "why" brings us back to our roots.

In a reference to the thinking of John Dewey, Dalton's founder Helen Parkhurst, wrote that "the object of a democratic education is not merely to make an individual an intelligent participator in the life of his immediate group, but to bring the various groups into such constant interaction that no individual, no economic group, could presume to live independently of others." It is Dalton's goal to fulfill this mission of our school and to prepare our students to appreciate difference and value interdependence as contributing citizens in an increasingly global community.

To live and function successfully in our world, a great education must include learning with children and from teachers whose backgrounds, beliefs, lifestyles, and perspectives reflect that variety. While it is important for each child to understand his or her own beliefs, background and historical roots, we must not isolate ourselves from the more diverse culture in which we will increasingly live. To do so would be to shortchange our children.

Along with many independent schools, as well as institutions of higher learning, Dalton believes diversity to be both consistent with our academic values and a moral obligation. Indeed, there is no reason for a progressive school such as Dalton to value diversity as anything less than an ethical mandate. 

How we achieve this mandate remains an ongoing process. The journey to true diversity requires communication, patience, and endurance. It is a journey we must all take together, as we turn rhetoric into reality. How we handle the process and deal with the resulting changes will ultimately help define the values of our community and those of our children. As Dalton continues to face the challenges of the twenty-first century, I look forward to taking this journey with all of you.

Ellen Stein
Head of School