Student Life

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Diversity Statement

At Westminster School, diversity encompasses respect, compassion, engagement and growth. Through diversity, we embrace intellectual curiosity, cultivate empathy for those around us, and seek the courage to overcome whatever challenges we may face on our own or in support of others. We commit to diversity in education and provide programs that deepen cultural competency, expand global understanding, and foster a resilient and dynamic community of belonging.
Diversity builds and sustains us. We encourage our students to be authentic, feel inspired to learn from those different from them, and celebrate diversity and multiculturalism. At Westminster School, diversity includes, but is not limited to, race, ethnicity, cultural identity, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, physical ability and religious practice.
We firmly stand on the four pillars of our Core Values: Community, Character, Balance and Involvement. The success of each is dependent on the others, and diversity strengthens them all.

Student Voices

Westminster Programs and Partnerships

Westminster’s commitment to diversity in education drives its support for programs that foster global awareness and encourages students to experience cultural immersion.

Student Groups

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  • Alliance Groups

    Alliance Groups are student-led and faculty-advised organizations that are open to the entire community. While they aim to develop friendship among students who are interested in exploring together and being curious with others, alliance groups focus on topics on diversity. Through scheduled discussions and schoolwide events, students develop spaces and learning environments intended to be empathetic, respectful and collaborative.
    • Gender & Sexuality Alliance
    • All As One Feminist Alliance
    • Jewnion
    • Conversations About Christianity
    • South Asian Alliance
    • Westminster Latinx Alliance
    • Middle Eastern Alliance
  • Affinity Groups

    Affinity Groups follow the best practices outlined by the National Association of Independent Schools. Although we may claim multiple identities, affinity groups are designed to encourage interaction among participants who share a similar identity. Because students and faculty participants can speak from the “I” and “we” perspective, these spaces affirm lived experiences and generate fellowship and empowerment.
    • Black Affinity Group
    • The Gathering
    • Ladies of Color
    • Hispanic or Latinx Affinity
    • Asian/Pacific Islander Affinity
    • LGBTQ+ Affinity Group
  • Peer Leaders

    Peer Leaders are a team of Fifth and Sixth Formers who will help design, facilitate and lead workshops and discussions among their peers on empathy, active listening, social justice issues, consent and other issues. The purpose of the Peer Leadership Program is to help support their peers in building agency, communication skills, and conflict resolution in partnership with the adults in the community. The Peer Leaders will be led by the Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; the Dean of Student Life; the Fifth and Sixth Form Deans, and the Health Center.
  • Mentor-Mentee Program

    With help from the Admissions Office, the Fifth and Sixth Form co-heads match all students with a mentor or mentee. Specifically, all Third and Fourth Formers and new students are paired with Fifth and Sixth Formers. The co-heads encourage mentors to reach out to their mentees before the fall term, particularly if the assigned mentees are new to our community, while school wide activities promote mentor-mentee connections during the school year.

Academic Programs

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  • English

    Literature provides a window to the past, a filter for the present, and a portal to the future; but, most importantly, literature provides an opportunity for the reader to migrate into a liminal, empathetic space, where, for a brief moment, they are able to test the limits of their imagination's unique capacity to consider the internal and external landscapes of people other than themselves. But, is it ever possible to sufficiently understand and honor the life and experience of another when there may be worlds and oceans of time and circumstance between the reader and the author? That is, perhaps, the ultimate test of the reader in their ontological quest for a heightened connection with the lives of others: to read, to listen, and to try to understand. Westminster's English curriculum aims to help students to be aware of the inherent bias at the core of the self and to understand the complex and nuanced concepts associated with the narratives and histories of Otherization: to understand the paradox that the subjective self and personal experience are vitally important, and, simultaneously, veils that must be rent in order to approach the truths of lived experiences beyond one's ken. The English Department's signature visiting writer program enhances our curricular offerings with the work of six contemporary writers during each academic year; in addition, the winter and spring elective offerings for Sixth Form present a choice of eight different areas of literary study; this broad range of authors and texts allows students to read and discuss works from a wide and diverse range of backgrounds.
  • History

    Above all, it is the goal of the History Department to provide a rich curriculum and to create a learning environment that encourages all Westminster students to see themselves in human history. Beginning with our Third Form Global History and Society course and continuing with Fourth Form Contemporary History, Fifth Form United States History, and our AP and other electives, the Department's curriculum introduces students to the human story in many ways.
    Students progressing through the core curriculum participate in a close examination of the world's cultures and peoples, including issues of economic and political development, social hierarchies, divisions and disparities, gender equity, religion, and environmental issues.
    • United States History is taught in a non-traditional format, without a formal textbook, and focuses on the use of primary and secondary sources and texts to encourage students to ask good questions and seek good answers based in historical scholarship about American history in all its successes, failures, and continuing challenges.
    • Our electives continue this effort to broaden the study of history to provide focus on those who have been marginalized.
    • Both AP European History and AP United States History place increasing emphasis on social history, including considering issues of gender, poverty, immigration, and identity.
    • AP Comparative Government takes a global perspective, covering the peoples and political systems of six very different countries from four continents.
    • AP Art History students study art from around the world and across thousands of years of human history.
    • History of the Forgotten, an elective course that has been part of the Westminster curriculum for over two decades, asks students to revisit their understanding of history and look much more closely at groups otherwise marginalized in traditional survey courses.
    • Moral Philosophy, another long-standing elective in the Department, challenges students to think about important questions of right and wrong and to apply their study of philosophy to real-world problems.
  • Visual Arts

    The Visual Arts program at Westminster provides an opportunity for students to investigate “big ideas,” in the curriculum and gain 2D, 3D and digital skills. The Visual Arts include: Drawing, Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Digital Art and Photography. Each of these areas are carefully structured to offer foundation skills and principles for the introductory students, and scaffold to build in conceptual ideation and skill development through the intermediate to the advanced courses. “Big ideas,” in the Visual Arts curriculum are born from a community-wide effort to initiate positive and long lasting change in the way Martlets interact with the global and local community. The faculty members thoughtfully weave identity, equity and inclusion in the classroom and encourage students to engage in Project Based Learning to focus on global and social issues. 
    Within the classroom of each discipline, students learn about their own identity and personal voice. During the creative process, students are encouraged to communicate their ideas and participate in creating a safe and inclusive studio space in which students can express their ideas and learn from one another. Students learn contemporary and historical styles that represent artists from diverse cultures and backgrounds. The teaching faculty are dedicated to creating meaningful, multicultural content with opportunities for students to bring their unique personal experiences and ideas to be skillfully crafted and designed in an effective visual language. 

School-Wide Programs

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  • Community Programs

    Community Programs are all-day programs set aside for dialogue and development on issues surrounding diversity. With student and faculty facilitators, our breakout sessions focus on a range of topics related to introspection and reflection, identity and connection, community and society, and history and the arts.

    Diversity Day 2021
    Diversity Day 2020
    Diversity Day 2019
    Diveristy Day 2018
  • The Chapel Program

    The Chapel Program is one of Westminster School’s oldest traditions that encompasses the Judeo-Christian tradition while embracing the world’s religions and philosophies. It offers time for reflection as students, faculty and guests share experiences through chapel talks or give musical performances. The program encourages members of the school community to think beyond themselves, to appreciate sacrifice and to be compassionate, sensitive and inclusive.

Conferences for Students and Faculty

List of 3 items.

  • CAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference

    The mission of the CT-SDLC is to bring together students from grades seven through 12 and adults from independent schools across the state for a day of peer facilitated workshops rooted in cross-cultural understanding and a call to action to improve our school communities and our world.
  • NAIS People of Color Conference & Student Diversity Leadership Conference

    The NAIS People of Color Conference (PoCC) is the flagship of the National Association of Independent Schools’ commitment to equity and justice in teaching, learning and organizational development. The mission of the conference is to provide a safe space for leadership, professional development and networking for people of color and allies of all backgrounds in independent schools.

    The NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference is a multiracial, multicultural gathering of upper school student leaders (grades nine through 12) from across the U.S. and abroad. SDLC focuses on self-reflecting, forming allies and building community.
  • SPHERE Events

    SPHERE is a consortium of independent schools from the greater Hartford area that came together in the early 70s because of a common commitment to diversity, originally expressed through summer enrichment programs for students from the City of Hartford. Today, the mission of SPHERE is to encourage and assist member schools as they collaborate in sustaining diverse, inclusive and culturally responsive environments for teaching and learning. Member schools seek to foster a respect for difference and an understanding of multicultural perspectives in curricular and extracurricular programs.

Hartford Partnerships

List of 3 items.

  • Horizons at Westminster

    Horizons at Westminster students come from Hartford Public Schools for a six-week summer program — starting in first grade and returning every summer through eighth grade. This deep, long-term investment over eight summers is designed to serve the whole child — fostering academic and social development that benefits students, their families and the broader Hartford community.
  • Loaves and Fishes

    On the second Thursday of each month, this outreach effort draws on several constituents from the Westminster community — faculty, staff, parents and students — and sends a contingent to help serve lunch at Loaves and Fishes, a soup kitchen which assists the very neediest people of Hartford.
  • Spring Break in Hartford

    During a week in the month of March, the Spring Break in Hartford program seeks to extend its outreach further by lending a hand to various service organizations (like Loaves and Fishes) and schools in Hartford.

Representation Matters

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  • Admissions Outreach

    Westminster is committed to recruiting a diverse student body. In furtherance of that commitment, the Admissions team connects with prospective students and families from different backgrounds, and each with their own unique story, here on campus, in our local communities, and through extensive domestic and international travel.
    We also partner with schools and organizations, including A Better Chance, ASSIST, Capitol Squash, Covenant Prep, the Davis Foundation, Grace Academy, Harlem Lacrosse, Hartford Youth Scholars, LEAD Africa (founded by Will Smith, class of 2010), NJ Seeds, TEAK Fellowship, Ukrainian Global Scholars, and the Wight Foundation. Likewise, we have strong ties with many private K-8 and junior boarding schools, who have also committed to increasingly diverse student bodies.  
    Where financial assistance is needed, we make every effort to ensure that students not only can attend Westminster, but also fully participate in student life. In addition to offering highly competitive financial aid packages, the recent addition of the Jenny and Bill Philip Fund for Student Support allows us to cover ancillary financial needs, ranging from spending money to significant medical coverage, in the hopes of providing as equitable an experience as possible for all of our students.
    Our current families and alumni are our greatest ambassadors, often connecting us with fantastic applicants we might not otherwise reach. In a similar vein, we are always appreciative of information about additional opportunities and suggestions.  

List of 1 members.

  • Photo of Devonna Hall

    Devonna Hall 

    Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
    (860) 408-3726

Equity and Inclusion Initiatives

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  • Six Coalition Initiatives

    1. The Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, in coordination with other offices on campus, will facilitate and implement ongoing conversations about racial identity with a focus on promoting an inclusive community where everyone feels valued and supported.
    2. Continue development and revision of the academic curriculum with a focus on cultural competence. In order to elevate the experience of students from historically marginalized racial and ethnic groups, implement specific efforts to address offensive and insensitive language and cultural references in literature, formal texts and supporting documents.

    3. Expand the Dean of Faculty Office to boost faculty recruitment efforts, diversify professional development opportunities, and assess and guide faculty sensitivity to the experience of students from historically marginalized racial and ethnic groups. 

    4. The Advancement Office will encourage financial support of DEI work during interactions with donors. Further, Advancement will develop strategies that more sensitively consider student comfort during interactions with alumni and other donors, whether in-person or through correspondence. Advancement will plan and schedule events specifically organized around alumni from historically marginalized racial and ethnic groups, both locally and beyond Williams Hill.

    5. The Admissions Office will increase outreach efforts, paying particular attention to engagement strategies with diverse communities and families, and creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for prospective students.
    6. Diversify the Health Center staff by seeking to add nurses and a consulting therapist from historically marginalized racial and ethnic groups.

Belonging at Westminster

Kelly Wosleger, math instructor, Fourth Form Dean and Girls’ Varsity Soccer coach, shares three important lessons she has learned about belonging during her time at Westminster.

Westminster at a Glance

List of 9 items.

  • 15%

    International Students  
  • 30%

    Students of Color
  • 13%

    Faculty of Color
  • 48%/52%

    Male/Female Faculty
  • 22

    States Represented
  • 20

    Countries Represented
  • 50%/50%

    Boys/Girls in Student Body
  • $6.5 million

    Financial Aid Budget
  • 37%

    Students Receiving Financial Aid
The “Our Space at Westy” account on Instagram shares the stories and experiences of affinity and alliance groups at Westminster School.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Westminster — a Committee of Westminster Faculty and Trustees

Contact Us

995 Hopmeadow Street
Simsbury, Connecticut 06070

P. (860) 408-3000
F. (860) 408 3001
Notice of Nondiscriminatory Policy as to Students
In keeping with our support for a diverse community, Westminster abides by all applicable federal and state laws and does not discriminate on the basis of any protected characteristic, including race, color, religious creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national and ethnic origin, ancestry and/or disability in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs. Westminster admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the School. 
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