diversity FAQ

Common questions and answers about diversity at SPA are below. Families are invited and encouraged to contact Diversity Dean Karen Dye at any time with additional questions. 

What percentage of SPA students are students of color?

In 2015-16, the percentage of students who identified as students of color throughout all three divisions was 28%: 35% in the Lower School, 23% in the Middle School, and 26% in the Upper School.

How does SPA define “diversity”?

The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), of which SPA is a member, defines diversity as a community of people of different races, ethnicities, socioeconomic classes, sexual orientations, and religions. It is very difficult to determine exact percentages for many of these categories, but we do know that at SPA 28% of the student body is African American, Asian American, Latino, Native American, and/or multiracial, on par with the NAIS national average. At SPA, however, the concept of diversity goes much deeper than numbers: the school embraces a climate and culture of pluralism and inclusion. We are committed to creating and maintaining a welcoming, safe, and inclusive environment for all our community members.

What is the role of the Diversity Dean?

The Diversity Dean works with the K–12 community to create and implement policy, practices, and programming that help build a diverse and inclusive community. The Dean is a mentor, advocate, and resource to children and families in the community; she regularly attends classes, works with teachers on curriculum development, advises the student diversity group, and acts as liaison to parent groups. The Diversity Dean also occasionally teaches Lower School “minis” and Middle and Upper School wellness courses. The Diversity Dean maintains strong connections with local, regional, and national educators’ organizations to ensure that SPA is following national standards and best practices in supporting our diverse student body.

Does SPA have official policies that relate to diversity?

Yes. In 2006 SPA's Board of Trustees’ implemented the Board's Resolution on Diversity and the school’s Diversity Action Plan. The full Resolution on Diversity reads as follows:

Let it be resolved that the Board of Trustees of St. Paul Academy and Summit School requires a thoughtful commitment on the part of each member of the school’s community to its stated goal of diversity. The Board recognizes that diversity is an asset that strengthens education by encouraging academic achievement, fostering the essential value of respect and preparing students to live and work in a global environment.

SPA is committed to the principles of diversity, and the school strictly prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, class, age, marital status, gender, disability, religion, sexual orientation, or any other protected class pursuant to applicable law.

Diversity in the educational and professional mission of the school may take many of the following valued forms:

  1. The school will seek to achieve a diverse population.
  2. The school is committed to employing a diverse and highly qualified faculty and staff.
  3. The climate and culture of the school are key ingredients to success. 
  4. The academic program offered by the school should reflect a commitment to multi-cultural and multi-ethnic learning. 
  5. The activities and extra-curricular programs of the school should encourage inclusiveness.

How does SPA’s curriculum reflect a commitment to diversity?

We seek to prepare SPA students to be thoughtful, curious, and engaged citizens of our increasingly global and interconnected world. Multicultural perspectives are woven throughout the K–12 curriculum in ways that spark students’ interest and invite them to deepen their exploration of our nation and the world.  In the Lower School, there is an emphasis on themes of people and their history, geography, and cultures through units such as ones focused on Minnesota’s indigenous people or African, Mayan, and Hawaiian cultures, and through the study of Spanish beginning in kindergarten. Middle School language courses (German, French, and Chinese, along with Spanish) place heavy emphasis on cultural awareness, and social studies classes culminate in a multicultural study of diverse histories and cultures of the United States, focusing on nationality, race, and gender in the 19th and 20th centuries. In the Upper School, students’ course choices include Gender in Literature, World Religions, and History of U.S. Social Movements. The curriculum has grown to better reflect the current national and global dialogue as well as the increasing cultural diversity of our families. 

Can my student be involved in SPA's diversity and inclusion efforts?

Yes. There are many ways for students to explore issues of diversity and difference outside of their coursework.

In the Upper School, many of the student-led clubs and organizations focus on issues of diversity, identity, and difference, including the Intercultural Club, the Learning Differences Support Group, the Gay/Straight Alliance, the Student Political Union, Students for Social Justice, and the Service Learning Committee. Affinity groups for students of color in the Middle and Upper Schools also provide peer support and space for discussion and reflection.

The Diversity Dean also works with students on leadership opportunties related to diversity. Students attend the NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference (held in conjuction with NAIS' People of Color Conference), help plan the annual Martin Luther King Jr. assembly, and participate in special programming throughout the year.

How can parents be involved in SPA’s diversity and inclusion efforts?

All children and families bring diversity to the SPA community in some way, and there are many ways to share your family’s unique perspective at school. Parents may attend or volunteer at community celebrations or in classrooms, attend meetings and presentations sponsored by the Parent Diversity and Inclusion Interest Group, and work with the Diversity Dean on developing special projects related to diversity or community education. We welcome your participation! Please contact Karen Dye, your principal, or any faculty or staff member for more information.

Does SPA work with community organizations on issues of diversity?

Yes. In the last five years, SPA partnered with the following organizations, among others:
  • National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) People of Color Conference
  • NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference
  • Mixed Blood Theatre education program
  • Young Women’s Issues Forum
  • Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS) Equity and Justice Committee
  • Twin Cities Independent School Diversity Collaborative (TCISDC)
  • Youth Thrive Peace Jam
  • Global Youth Leadership Institute
  • Colin Powell Leadership Academy
  • Midwest Diversity Job Fair
  • Nemnet Multicultural Recruitment Fairs
  • Rainbow Families Conference and Resource Fair
  • Give Us Wings
  • Jeremiah Program
  • Hallie Q. Brown Center
  • Tolerance Minnesota
  • Student diversity groups at other local independent schools
1150 Goodrich Avenue, St. Paul MN 55105
Main school line: 651-698-2451
Goodrich front desk: 651-696-1560 
Goodrich attendance line: 651-696-1414
1712 Randolph Avenue, St. Paul MN 55105
Main school line: 651-698-2451
Randolph attendance line: 651-696-1410
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