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About Us

Justice, Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion

About The Work

As a day school located in southern Maine, Berwick Academy engages in Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion with an appropriate blend of ambition and realism. This work is directly connected to the School’s historic mission of “promoting virtue and useful knowledge to the rising generations.” In terms of practical skill and moral development, we believe the skills and attitude associated with these areas are of the utmost importance to our graduates.

The words Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) communicate our commitment to building a diverse school community that ensures active and full participation, values fairness and equity, and addresses the chronic marginalization experienced by underrepresented groups both on and off campus. We are confident in the firm foundation we’ve built in the past six years and our ability to engage each other in challenging dialogue and honest conversation on systemic inequality.

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Statement of Community

Berwick Academy is committed to building a diverse school community that ensures active and full participation, values fairness and equity, and addresses the systemic marginalization experienced by underrepresented groups. We strive to support and attract students, families, faculty, staff, and administrators whose varied backgrounds, including disability status, family composition, gender, gender identity, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status, strengthen our community.  Through our curriculum, co-curricular activities, and community-building efforts, Berwick Academy students will: 

  • Know Themselves and what makes up their identity
  • Respect and embrace difference, be open-minded, empathetic, Socially Aware, and willing to explore and understand others' perspectives. 
  • Act against bias and unfairness and be Civically Engaged citizens who are inclined to give of themselves 
  • Actively work to redress inequity toward a more just society as Equity-Minded upstanders and advocates

“Dedicated to promoting virtue and useful knowledge” now and in the future, we must prepare students to understand, identify with, and engage in an ever-changing world.

A Message From Jim Hamilton & Michael Buensuceso

Greetings from the Hilltop. At Berwick Academy, we have an opportunity and obligation to engage all members of our community in civil discourse with the goal of bringing meaningful change that will forever strengthen our School and the world around us. Across the nation, citizens have been grappling with instances of anti-Black racism and resulting civil unrest. We find ourselves in a moment in which our collective society is acknowledging and holding itself accountable for the deep-rooted racism that has been inherent and perpetuated throughout the entirety of this nation's history. With this, the institutions of this country are being challenged to find ways to dismantle this systemic inequality and continue on a path toward a more just and equitable society. 
    
Of recent interest to us at Berwick is the nationwide outpouring by Black students and graduates of independent and public schools who report being marginalized and/or “othered” within their predominantly White school communities. We applaud the courage of those who have chosen to share because without these narratives, we might find ourselves complacent. Without these stories, we become comfortable with the status quo, and the institutions responsible for ensuring that solutions continue to emerge in our next generation become part of the problem.
 
These are not unfamiliar themes, especially for those of us who have made our careers in education. For years, such stories have been shared with family, in the privacy of dorm rooms, and/or with trusted adults.  They have been the topics of numerous articles, research, and local and national conferences. In fact, experiences like these began to inform our work in justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion and will continue to do so for years to come. That said, we have established dialogue with different Berwick constituencies to envision how the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion program will continue to grow in all three divisions and be represented, once again, in the next strategic plan. We’ve already begun to outline language on our expectations for a Berwick graduate–on what it means to have awareness of self, awareness of others, to be civically engaged, and equity-minded. These expectations will drive more specific conversations on curricular and co-curricular offerings, continued research on the diversity of our student and adult population, and how best to recruit, retain, and provide support for those who continue to find themselves underrepresented.
 
To our alumni who have reached out, we are grateful for your energy and desire to put this work at the forefront of your engagement with Berwick.  To our faculty and staff, your desire to learn and support these efforts is palpable. The professional development you are committed to on cultural competency and anti-racism will inform what and how we teach in the classroom and enhance how we support students of color and other marginalized identities. To our parents, we appreciate your participation in dialogues. We grateful for the ongoing partnership in this work and in helping your children navigate a world that is becoming progressively more complex. And finally, to our students, we are committed to helping you advocate for yourselves and intervene for others who might experience racism.   

Ultimately, this work will further enhance our School community so that all of our students can always be their authentic and true selves. We look forward to you joining us for the long road ahead. Please feel free to contact either one of us with questions, thoughts, or concerns. 
 
With respect and gratitude,
Jim Hamilton
Head of School

Michael Buensuceso
Assistant Head of School for Community and Equity

Resources

Faculty & Staff Professional Development

Each year, Berwick Academy faculty and staff participate in local and national conferences focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Examples include, NAIS People of Color Conference, AISNE Diversity Conference, Diversity Directions Independent School Seminar, National Anti Racism Teach-In, and the National SEED Project.

Watch Michael Buensuceso's What Matters To Me Speech

Community Groups

List of 7 items.

  • SEED

    SEED is a year-round faculty and staff professional development experience focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion through personal reflection and testimony, listening to others’ voices, and learning experientially and collectively. Throughout the seven sessions, participants will gain new insights into how educators can make their schools and classrooms more inclusive and fair.
  • Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee

    This committee is comprised of trustees, administrators, faculty, and parents who are charged with exploring and developing ways to accomplish the goals and initiatives identified in the Strategic Plan.
  • Alliance in the Upper School

    A human rights student group that focuses on LGBTQIA+ rights and gender equality by educating the people around us, celebrating and advocating for the differences that make us human, and innovating new ways to spread acceptance through the greater world.
  • Upper School Diversity Club

    Inspired by work at the NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference, the Berwick Diversity (BD) group in the Upper School focuses on self-reflection, ally-ship, and community building. Throughout the school year, the student group will create regular and consistent spaces for dialogue and conversation with the Berwick community on issues of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.
  • Middle School Bulldogs for Justice

    Bulldogs for Justice aims to be a safe and inclusive environment that encourages members to become active and positive voices within our community. They examine historic and current events in an effort to have conversations that enhance a more complete understanding of the changing world.
  • BPC C.A.R.E.S.

    Community, Awareness, Respect, Education & Support (C.A.R.E.S): A parent-led group within the BPC focusing on justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion through educational and community programming.
  • Alumni for Social Justice

    Alumni of underrepresented racial, ethnic, LGBTQIA+, and ally identities, who are engaging in the school’s JEDI work by supporting the work with students. This group also provides a space to share thoughts on the ongoing national discourse on race and racism.

Berwick Academy

Berwick Academy, situated on an 80-acre campus just over one hour north of Boston, serves 600 students, Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12, from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. Deeply committed to its mission of promoting virtue and useful knowledge, Berwick Academy empowers students to be creative and bold. Berwick strives to graduate alumni who shape their own learning, take risks, ask thoughtful questions, and come to understand and celebrate their authentic selves.