Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Since its founding in 2003, Cascades Academy has fostered an inclusive school culture which respects the unique experiences, beliefs, and contributions of each member of its community. This commitment has permeated all areas of the school, including school program, operations, and governance.
The school's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee includes faculty, staff, and trustees. Along with feedback from the community, the Diversity Committee helped draft the school’s diversity statement, as follows:
Cascades Academy seeks to create a safe, nurturing community where we honor our unique selves, embrace the diverse perspectives and backgrounds of others, and promote social responsibility both within the school and beyond.
Each division promotes multicultural competency through a variety of ethnic, cultural, religious, and historical curriculum offerings. In the Upper School, this is evident in required humanities courses including World Religions, History of Human Rights Violations, European Studies, and Latin American Studies. In addition, the integrated studies, place-based curriculum deepens cultural competency. The middle school curriculum includes World History, Ancient World History, and Global Geography. In Lower School, students often explore diversity topics through the Storyline program.
Across all divisions, students read literature that represent diverse beliefs and cultures, and teachers choose literature by authors of diverse backgrounds. Spanish courses include in-depth study of Latino culture in addition to the Spanish language.
An important part of creating a diverse school culture is found in the formation of a safe learning environment that embraces free and open inquiry. To that end, all teachers are committed to open discourse throughout their curriculum in a manner that allows students to share alternative views in a respectful environment.
Another part of the school’s culture is a strong commitment to each individual student and their unique needs or interests. This might take the form of significant schedule flexibility with competitive athletes, designing elective courses around student interest or simply helping a student pursue a passion or interest with some additional assistance from the school i.e. starting a Star Wars club or Quidditch team.
In the 2020-21 school year we have focused on professional development opportunities in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism. Faculty and staff participated in a two-part training with Teaching While White and the Board of Trustees has been working with the Institute for Inclusive Leadership.
One of our greatest assets in Central Oregon is our access to community partners who share our commitment to advancing DEI in the region. Our focus has been on deepening a handful of key partnerships in a mutually beneficial way. This year, we have continued to partner with the Latino Community Association (LCA) to expand our connection to the Latinx community in Central Oregon. The virtual nature of events this year has expanded access to community education programs with our partners at Central Oregon Community College, Ten Friends, and World MUSE and provided opportunities for meaningful conversations around race, injustice, women’s rights, and more.