Diversity, Equity, and Belonging

Picture of Shavonne Joyner, our Director of diversity equity and belonging
Shavonne Joyner
Director of DEB

Our dedication to diversity, equity, and belonging extends to a commitment to ongoing accountability, examination, and improvement of our organizational culture. We recognize that fostering an inclusive community requires continuous reflection and action. Therefore, we remain vigilant in evaluating our practices and policies to ensure they align with our values of equity and diversity.

This commitment resonates deeply with the principles of Montessori pedagogy, reflecting Maria Montessori's profound understanding of the holistic development of children. We honor each child as a unique individual deserving of respect and support on their educational journey.

Through Montessori education, we cultivate an inclusive environment where diversity is celebrated, fostering understanding and empathy among our community members. Equity lies at the heart of our approach, ensuring that each child receives personalized attention and resources tailored to their unique needs. By nurturing a sense of belonging, we create spaces where every child feels valued, empowered, and motivated to explore, learn, and grow.

Our classrooms are vibrant reflections of the diverse human experience, embracing the assortment of cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives that make up the world. We intentionally foster a diverse community, welcoming individuals from various ethnicities, socioeconomic statuses, gender identities, family structures, sexual orientations, racial backgrounds, national origins, religions, and abilities. We celebrate the ways that our uniqueness enables us to enrich each other’s lives.

At MCS, diversity, equity, and belonging are not just ideals but integral components of our educational philosophy, preparing students to become compassionate and engaged global citizens. We actively seek to create an atmosphere of respect and openness, in which every person is equally recognized and supported.

Teaching Histories with Awareness and Accuracy
We are dedicated to providing a culturally competent curriculum that honors the multifaceted backgrounds and experiences of our students, community, and world. Anchored in the Montessori philosophy's principles of social justice and peace, our teaching approach ensures that students engage with histories that are truthful, nuanced, and respectful of different cultural narratives.
By teaching histories in a manner that is accessible and relevant to each child's developmental stage, we foster a deeper understanding of the complexities of our world. We aim to empower students to critically engage with historical events and to cultivate empathy and respect for all peoples and cultures. Through this approach, we strive to empower students to become informed global citizens who actively contribute to building inclusive and equitable societies. 
Nurse Megan talking to a lower elementary class Adolescent students in the courtroom where Emmett Till's murderers were tried A circle in an Upper Elementary classroom Adolescent students participating in a team building activity Boundaries and consent safety checklist by kidspower.com
A Comprehensive Approach to Wellness and Human Development
We value holistic wellness education that encompasses a comprehensive understanding of our bodies and emotions. Our curriculum includes detailed lessons on nutritious eating, personal safety, self-care, and effective communication, ensuring that students develop a well-rounded understanding of their overall wellness.
As students reach adolescence, we provide them with a comprehensive sex education that empowers students with accurate information, fosters healthy attitudes, and promotes respectful relationships. Our approach to sex education is rooted in the principles of openness, inclusivity, and respect for diverse identities and experiences.
Beginning in fifth grade and continuing into seventh grade, these programs are led by trained professionals and provide honest, authentic information about sexuality. We offer age-appropriate curriculum that covers topics such as human development, anatomy, puberty, consent, healthy relationships, contraception, and sexual health.
Through interactive discussions, age-appropriate materials, and a supportive learning environment, we aim to equip students with the knowledge, skills, and values necessary to make informed decisions about their bodies and relationships.
We prioritize creating a safe space where students feel comfortable asking questions, expressing concerns, and exploring their own beliefs and values. By promoting open dialogue and understanding, we empower students to navigate the complexities of sexual health and relationships with confidence and respect for themselves and others.
Fostering Growth and Inclusion with Our Student Support Program
Picture of Lisa Anderson, our Student Support Coordinator
Lisa Anderson
Student Support Coordinator

We offer a comprehensive Student Support Program designed to meet the diverse needs of every student. Grounded in Montessori principles and aligned with a Multi-tiered System of Support (MTSS), our program identifies resources, strategies, and practices that support students' physical, social, emotional, and intellectual well-being, ensuring equal opportunities for success.

The Student Support Team (SST), consisting of the Student Support Coordinator and the Academic Director, collaborates closely with classroom teachers, the Head of School, and external professionals. Together, we provide additional academic and behavioral support, collect data for student learning, recommend research-based interventions and accommodations, and offer referrals for external support services.

We recognize the importance of providing adaptive materials and resources to meet the diverse needs of our students. From yoga balls and wiggle seats to headphones and quiet spaces, we offer various aids to support sensory needs and help students better focus on their tasks. Additionally, our calming corner in the nurse’s office provides a safe space for students to regulate their emotions and restore their focus when needed.

Through our Student Support Program, we are committed to creating an inclusive and supportive environment where every student feels valued, empowered, and able to thrive.

Peaceful Conflict Resolution and Behavior Change
Our discipline policy is grounded in the principles of diversity, equity, and belonging, reflecting our commitment to nurturing compassionate and responsible individuals.
From the Primary and Lower Elementary levels to the Upper Elementary and Adolescent levels, our teachers employ proactive strategies to foster healthy behavior and social-emotional development. Classroom and school behavior expectations are collectively defined with students at the start of each academic year, cultivating a culture of shared responsibility and community ownership.
We implement a culturally responsive disciplinary program that incorporates restorative justice principles. Through restorative practices, including Circle discussions and mediation, we provide students with opportunities to understand the impact of their actions, take responsibility, and repair harm within the community.
Teacher training on restorative practices is a cornerstone of our approach. All faculty and staff undergo comprehensive training facilitated by Peaceful Schools NC, equipping them with the tools and strategies to effectively implement restorative justice in their classrooms. Additionally, staff utilize resources like the Circle Forward book to integrate restorative practices into daily interactions, staff meetings, and community-building activities.
By embracing restorative justice principles, we foster a culture of empathy, accountability, and reconciliation, empowering students to resolve conflicts peacefully and contribute positively to society.
Building a Diverse Team
The staff at a staff retreatBeyond providing representation for our students, having a diverse team of educators offers numerous benefits for everyone involved. It fosters a more inclusive and empathetic environment where different perspectives are valued and celebrated. We actively seek out diverse candidates not only to reflect the backgrounds of our students but also to cultivate a stronger, more vibrant community.
Our commitment to inclusive hiring extends beyond just posting job opportunities; we ensure that our recruitment processes are equitable and welcoming to individuals of all races, ethnicities, genders, abilities, and backgrounds. Additionally, we participate in an annual diversity hiring fair, providing a platform to connect with talented individuals who share our values of diversity and inclusion. 
Equity-Focused Professional Development
Our approach to professional growth encompasses a variety of avenues, ensuring that every staff member has opportunities to expand their knowledge and skills. For instance, all staff members maintain their American Red Cross CPR, First Aid, and AED certifications through regular retraining, facilitated by our school nurse.
In alignment with our commitment to diversity and equity, every staff member has completed or is enrolled in the two-day Phase I training organized by the Racial Equity Institute. This training aims to deepen participants' understanding of racism in its institutional and structural forms, equipping our staff with valuable insights for fostering an inclusive learning environment.
Throughout the year, we host professional development trainings and workshops on campus, covering a range of topics relevant to our mission. Recent offerings have included sessions on bullying prevention, restorative practices, understanding ADHD in education, and exploring disability advocacy and activism.
A picture of the staff members who went to the 2024 AMS conference in Orlando Two staff members who went to the NAIS People of Color Conference Staff members at the AMS conference An anti-bias, anti-racist professional development training Staff receiving a certification for restorative justice from Peaceful Schools
Furthermore, we allocate a professional development budget each year to support individual faculty growth, allowing staff members to attend conferences and workshops such as the AMS conference, Montessori Association of North Carolina conference, and the National Association of Independent Schools’ People of Color conference. Additionally, we offer financial support for formal Montessori training for employees who are interested in pursuing Montessori credentials.
As part of our commitment to integrating Montessori philosophy and practice, we provide orientation sessions for new staff members, ensuring they understand the core principles of Montessori education and how they translate into our daily practices at MCS. These sessions, led by trained classroom teachers, offer valuable insights into student expectations and experiences.
At MCS, professional development goals are incorporated into each faculty member’s personalized annual development plan, with ongoing opportunities for all-staff professional development focusing on students with disabilities, diversity-related topics, and other key areas of growth identified for the school year.
Through these comprehensive initiatives, we empower our staff to continually enhance their skills, deepen their understanding of diversity and equity, and create a more inclusive and supportive learning environment for all students.