An independent day school serving grades K-12 | St. Paul, MN

Diversity FAQ

Common questions and answers about diversity at SPA are below. Families are invited and encouraged to contact Dr. Naomi Taylor, Director of Intercultural Life, at any time with additional questions. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What percentage of SPA students are students of color?

In 2019-20, the percentage of students who identified as students of color throughout all three divisions was 33%: 36% in the Lower School, 42% in the Middle School, and 26% in the Upper School.

How does SPA define "diversity"?

According to the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), of which SPA is a member, “the concept of diversity embraces the wide range of human characteristics used to mark or identify individual and group identities. These characteristics include, but are not limited to, ethnicity, race, national origin, age, personality, sexual orientation, gender, class, religion, ability, and linguistic preferences.” It is very difficult to determine exact percentages for many of these categories, but we do know that 31% of the SPA student body is African American, Asian American, Latino, Native American, and/or multiracial, which exceeds the NAIS national average of 29%. 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 Director of Intercultural Life?

Dr. Naomi Taylor, the Director of Intercultural Life works with the K–12 community to create and implement policy, practices, and programming that help build a diverse and inclusive community. The Director is a mentor, advocate, and resource to children and families in the community; she regularly attends classes, works with teachers on curriculum development, advises student diversity and affinity groups, and acts as liaison to parent groups. The Director also occasionally teaches Middle School wellness courses. The Director 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. Contact Dr. Taylor.

Does SPA have official policies addressing diversity?

Yes. The school's Board of Trustees first implemented a Diversity Action Plan in 2006. The most recent Diversity and Inclusion policy was adopted in 2017 (see below) and the school's Gender Diversity Guidelines were implemented in 2018.

2017 Diversity and Inclusion Policy

In accordance with the Board of Trustees’ Resolution on Diversity, St. Paul Academy and Summit School strives to support each student, and all members of the community, in their asserted identities by creating an environment where all are welcomed and valued. SPA believes that diversity is an asset that strengthens education by encouraging academic achievement, fostering the essential value of respect, developing the skill to learn from and about multiple perspectives, and preparing students to live and work in a global community. SPA requires a thoughtful commitment on the part of each member of the school’s community to contribute positively to this environment.

The safety and privacy of our students is of the highest priority. SPA’s policies on matters related to diversity reflect best practices in ensuring all students may participate fully in the community as their authentic self and may safely develop in their whole understanding of self. SPA is committed to the principles of diversity, and strictly prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, marital status, gender identity, disability, religion, sexual orientation, or any other identity.

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 and inclusive community
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 learning that seeks active engagement with diverse ideas and perspectives and seeks understanding across difference.
5. The activities and extra-curricular programs of the school should encourage inclusiveness
6. The school will regularly review and update policies to uphold the safety and privacy of its students


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. 

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

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 Intercultural Club, the Gender and Sexuality Acceptance club (GSA), 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 Director of Intercultural Life also works with students on leadership opportunities related to diversity. Students attend the NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference (held in conjunction 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 relevant meetings and presentations sponsored by the Lower School and Middle/Upper School Parent Associations, and work with the Director of Intercultural Life on developing special projects related to diversity or community education. We welcome your participation! Please contact Dr. Naomi Taylor, your principal, or any faculty or staff member for more information.

Does SPA work with community organizations on diversity issues?

Yes. Over the years, SPA has partnered with the following organizations, among others:

  • National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) People of Color Conference
  • NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference
  • Penumbra Theatre
  • 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