Follow-up Message from GPS Board and Senior Leadership Team
Board of Trustees and Senior Leadership announce beginning in a long road of a Strategic Equity Response at GPS that is long overdue
Dear GPS Community,
Thank you to the nearly 200 GPS community members who participated in our town hall sessions last week. The GPS Board and Senior Leadership clearly hear your voices. Your authentic and constructive input demonstrates your desire to see GPS lean more strongly into its mission to be a school where all girls thrive and become their best selves.
These are difficult but necessary conversations, and we want to thank all who shared parts of their personal stories with a group of people—most of whom you had never met! This step took courage. Your voices and your support are a tremendous gift to the GPS community. We commit to a better tomorrow that is worthy of your gift.
First, some intentional acknowledgments:
Black Alumnae of GPS – At each of the forums, your presence was felt and appreciated. Your voices were strong, they were unified, and they were resonant. You were also vulnerable and weary from telling your stories yet again with the continued hope of moving your school forward. We want you to know that we see you, we hear you, and we commit to becoming an inclusive, safe, and supportive community for current and future GPS Black girls, as well as for all girls of color.
Non-Black Members of the GPS Community – Your presence was also appreciated. Many of you joined the meetings to listen deeply, offer solutions, and—most importantly—to lend support to your Black sisters. We also see you, appreciate you, and need you to remain committed to the long road ahead. You are key to making this hoped-for change a reality.
We promised we would listen in order to formulate a path forward. Please consider this communication and accompanying action items as the beginning in a long road of a Strategic Equity Response at GPS that is way overdue.
Anti-bias training for all employees at GPS will begin this summer and will continue throughout the school year. As part of this anti-bias training, faculty will learn how to better support students of color in our classrooms and beyond. This required training will become policy and, as such, represents an intentional shift in our culture.
We will put in place a Director of Belonging, Access, and Inclusion to support our outreach efforts to diversify our student body with a specific focus on students of color. Equally important, the DBAI will provide guidance and support to current students, faculty, and staff as we navigate more open conversations about race and implicit bias and its impact on our educational and institutional practices.
Our Division Heads will lead the Department Chairs in an audit of their curricular programs and work with the DBAI to create a more culturally inclusive and historically accurate academic program. This audit is not about celebrating Black History Month; rather, it is an acknowledgment that a rigorous curriculum is an inclusive curriculum.
We will work with our Black alumnae and other alumnae of color, as well as greater Chattanooga community members, to create a mentoring and support program for current students of color. GPS will expand upon our existing alumnae-to-student mentor platform housed on GPSAlumnae.org.
In a renewed commitment to hire employees who represent the broadest range of identities and lived experiences, we will expand our local and national employment networks and collaborate with recruiting firms that express a demonstrated commitment to placing candidates of color.
While this work will be a journey for us, we commit to the actions above with the understanding that we have more to learn. We are grateful for this continued engagement and know that to be successful, we must move forward together.
Here’s to the Girls—Past, Present, and Future!
Dr. Rebecca E. Stimson ’73, Chair On behalf of the GPS Board of Trustees
Dr. R. Kirk Walker Jr., Interim Head of School On behalf of the GPS Senior Leadership Team