Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Diversity, Equity, and 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.
We define diversity as any of the ways in which human beings recognize the broad range of human experience including, but not limited to, race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, age, socio-economic status, physical and neuro-diversity.
Cascades Academy is a wonderful community where kids feel welcomed and challenged in ways that are timely to what is happening in the world.
Creating an Inclusive Learning Environment
Just as important as introducing, sharing, and promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion is fostering discussion around those topics. Students of all grade levels are encouraged to ask questions and share their opinions. As students progress through their education and grade level, open inquiry is the foundation for learning content, but more importantly, it helps students make relevant connections to their lives. At the heart of this emphasis on DEI topics is the fostering of empathy and understanding as well as the self-confidence in knowing that each student can tackle injustice when they encounter it in their lives.
Exploring Personal Identity
Through a variety of different modes, DEI topics are explored by students individually. From the earliest grades, students are asked to reflect on their personal history and identity and make connections with those around them as well as embrace and appreciate differences. The Advisory Program in the Middle School and Upper School provides a safe space for students to explore their own identity and share with peers their questions and insights. Working on personal identity provides the foundation needed for students to appreciate other identities in our community and beyond.
Cascades Academy educators recognize the importance of incorporating a multitude of diverse perspectives in order to foster understanding and compassionate connections. Curriculum across all divisions celebrate differences, whether that be gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, or religion among others. Diverse life experiences are highlighted in all areas of the curriculum, whether that be in a unique Storyline character, representation of women in diverse professionals in STEM fields, or exploration of religions around the world.
In the Lower School, educators are leveraging Learning for Justice’s Social Justice Standards in their classes. Learning for Justice (formerly Teaching Tolerance) provides free resources for educators to supplement curriculum, inform practices, and create inclusive school communities where children and youth are respected, valued, and welcome participants. Divided into four domains—identity, diversity, justice and action—their Social Justice Standards recognize that, in today's diverse classrooms, students need knowledge and skills related to both prejudice reduction and collective action. Together, these domains represent a continuum of engagement in anti-bias, multicultural, and social justice education.
At the core of teaching with a DEI lens is, in fact, learning. In order to nurture our students’ growth, we know that we must continue to learn and grow by unpacking our own biases. Our faculty, staff, and board have explored their personal understanding of DEI as well as how to weave these critical themes into their courses, pedagogy, or board work. Recent professional development opportunities have been facilitated through Teaching While White and 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. We continue to partner with the Latino Community Association (LCA) to expand our connection to the Latinx community in Central Oregon. In addition, we have been able to align our efforts for 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.
In addition, our free Education Series provides a platform for discussions about important topics related to social responsibility in our community.
We deliver meaningful, challenging, and experiential education to inspire lifelong learners who are socially responsible individuals ready for a diverse and changing world.
Learn By Doing
To foster lives of understanding, purpose, and meaning.
To deepen connection, appreciation, and collaboration.
To be a force of positive impact in the world.
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.