Opening Ears, Minds, and Hearts to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Posted on Wednesday, November 4th, 2020

Each year, the Gaynor Employee Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee (EDEIC) chooses a community values theme. For the past two years, the theme was “Courageous Conversations,” highlighting the difficult conversations we all need to have as we work toward supporting and celebrating each individual in our community.

This year, after discussion, the EDEIC chose the theme of “Open Ears, Open Minds, Open Hearts.” This theme builds upon the “Courageous Conversations” idea, encouraging the entire community to discuss issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in an inclusive and supportive way. 

Head of School Dr. Scott Gaynor said, “As we prioritize DEI work at Gaynor, we all need to listen, respond, support, and take action. Hearing from a range of our constituents has been essential to my understanding of the current climate and steps we need to take to move forward together. We are all role models for our students. As such, we need to be open to the views of others without judgement or bias.” He continued, “Caring for one another opens our capacity to change. It is through this lens that we can create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community.”

We asked some of the members of the EDEIC to share what this year’s theme means to them:

  • “Open Ears, Open Minds, Open Hearts is a touchstone for us. It is a reminder of the pathway to take in order to be the courageous, empathetic, informed community members we would want to be.” — Sue Sortino, Director of Student Life
  • “I think it means that when you listen to other perspectives more than you speak, either listen to someone else or listen to what your truth is, you are able to share with others. Once you can share and listen openly, there is vast room for growth. And growth leads to actions that ensure justice and equity for all!” — Meredith Akins, Drama Teacher 
  • “We are all here for connection. As humans, we are social beings and desire to be included. In order to create a more inclusive global community, we need to be vulnerable by listening to and thinking of others. Only when we are actively listening and practicing empathy, can we open our hearts to create inclusivity.” — Jacqueline Smith, Science Specialist 
  • “Briefly, this year’s theme means: having a curiosity to learn about, embrace, and honor our diversity.” — Dionne De Lancy, Librarian
  • “To me, this year’s theme means that our community is committed to proactively supporting one another. We actively listen to members of affected groups around DEI issues by seeking out ways to do so (e.g., reading books, listening to podcasts, asking questions, etc.). Once we’ve listened, we have internal reflections and external conversations to hold ourselves accountable for truly understanding all perspectives. We push ourselves to take action in creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community. Lastly, this work is rooted in empathy. We engage in these conversations and all follow-up actions with care for all community members. That, in a nutshell, is what this means to me.” — Audrey Schaefer, Head Teacher, Silver Cluster


Stephen Gaynor School is dedicated to promoting and advocating for diversity and inclusion within our school community. We celebrate many types of diversity including ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status, ability, religion, sexual orientation, family configuration, language, gender, and adoption status. We are committed to fostering an inclusive environment that supports and celebrates each individual in our school community, while ensuring that the values of inclusion and diversity are infused in all aspects of the school for students of all ages.