Our EJB Journey

2018-2020 - Global Awareness

EJB is an evolution of the strategic impact of Global Awareness, that first became part of the strategic plan in 2018. The focus of this impact was to expand international mindedness across the FIS community. 

In fact, our commitment to international mindedness  predates even this initiative. Our school’s name and our mission statement refer to being international. International mindedness is one of the core principles of the International Baccalaureate programmes, and as an IB World School we are accountable for implementing a set of standards and practices around international mindedness.

We have always aimed to be international in more than just name. Our commitment is what prompted us to review and revise our school-wide language policy and expand the language programme in the Upper School to give students more choice and flexibility in their language learning. The UN Sustainable Development Goals are woven into our curriculum across all of the divisions. Further, our commitment to international mindedness drives and underpins student action that addresses issues including poverty, human rights, and  the climate emergency. 

Spring 2020 - A new lens

World events in spring 2020 prompted us to look more deeply into what it means to be an international school and to investigate the experiences of our community members. As described in our Dec 2020 position paper, we made a commitment to take actions that would move us toward not just an inclusive, internationally minded community, but a community in which everyone feels they belong.

FIS was not alone in this work. Initiatives around diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice were being prioritized across industries, including the corporate sector and the international school community. 

The image below shares some of the organizations and international schools we researched during this time.

The driver for this work was not only a moral imperative but also based on research on the benefits of diversity in the organisational environment, as well as our long history as an international community.  A McKinsey & Company study, for example, found that companies with more diversity had a higher return on equity than other firms. 

Evidence is growing that diversity brings invaluable richness and depth to organizations.

Fall 2020 - Defining our work

EJB Team

In September 2020, FIS established a team to look specifically into how the broader Global Awareness strategic impact could be narrowed to explicitly explore and address issues of social justice. The team comprised 9 members of the community who fulfil a range of roles in the community - parents, teachers, board members, alums, school leadership.

From October 2020 onwards, the team met every 3 weeks. Their initial focus was three-fold:

The team also intentionally engaged in reflective discussions to challenge their own ideas and grow their understanding of the global context of this initiative. It was not always easy and missteps were made, even within the small group. This experience was indicative of the challenges that lay, and still lie, before us as a community as we open up topics for discussion which might not have been widely talked about before.

Winter 2020 - Sharpening the lens

As FIS narrowed the focus of Global Awareness toward explicitly addressing issues of social justice through the lens of Equity, Justice and Belonging, it was important to define the key terms that would underpin this work. The working definitions are below, although these will be revisited and revised as the work continues.

We see equity as the avenue through which we can explore the individual experiences of our community members and how they engage with the facets of school life, including curricular opportunities, REAL activities and support systems of the school. Equity is different from equality because equality implies everyone has the same: equity is about meeting individual needs to maintain fairness and access for all community members.

We see justice as a deep evaluation of our systems, policies and practices that will shore up equity in the school community. This is where we will examine the accountability and transparency of school processes such as admissions and recruitment, ensuring the school community is underpinned by systems that safeguard the inclusion and well-being of all.

We noticed that many organizations are using words such as inclusion and diversity to describe the notion of having different voices at the table. In our reading we picked up on the term belonging - the notion of not just being a diverse group where differences are accepted, but being a community where differences in sexual orientation, race, nationality, religion and more are appreciated and considered vital to the success of the community. Given the value we place on international mindedness and the transient nature of our community, where a large number of families are living here without extended family, we felt the term belonging was particularly well-fitting for FIS.

Spring 2021 - Assessing our climate of inclusion

Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism

After much research and discussion, our committee selected to partner with the National Association of Independent Schools on this important project.  NAIS is a nonprofit membership association located in the United States that provides services to more than 1,800 schools within the US and around the globe. For more than 10 years, NAIS has worked with schools on the task of evaluating the climate of inclusion through the Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism (AIM). The NAIS AIM tool was selected for FIS because it best fitted the following criteria:

✓ Whole school focus

✓ Comprehensive approach 

✓ Both qualitative and quantitative data

✓ Ability to capture multiple perspectives

✓ Useful data results (easy-to-understand visuals, ability to sort, etc.)

✓ Training & Support

✓ Reasonable Cost

✓ Proven Track Record

2020-21 overview

Summer 2021 - Developing an action plan

Using the data from the NAIS Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism, an action plan was created by the EJB team in collaboration with the school leadership that included priority actions for the 2021-22 academic year.

EJB 2021-22 Community Overview

Spring 2022 - Making connections to the SDGs

As FIS progresses its strategic development in the two areas of Sustainability and Equity, Justice and Belonging, we beginning to ask questions about how they intersect and connect, including:

2021-2022 - Learning together

Dr. Alan Phan

Implicit bias and recruitment practices

8th and 15th February

Dr. Emily Meadows

Gender inclusion at FIS

15th and 16th March

Darnell Fine

Microaggressions and leadership

3rd May

Whole school EJB Conversation

30th September 2021

EJB Conversations continued

29th November, 13th December, 

14th February, 21st March, 30th May

May 2022 - Strategic Planning for 2022-23

The strategic planning day together with the community survey data and collaborative discussions at the leadership summer retreat led to the development of the draft 2022-23 action plan.

EJB Action Plan 2022-23

2021-2022 - Overview

Click here to read the 2021-22 summer update email to FIS colleagues.

May 2023

EJB steering committee members, Loretta Smith and Chris Wilcox, published an article with the Council of International Schools about our EJB journey so far.