Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and inclusivity, in all aspects of identity, broaden and enhance the educational experience. Varied perspectives are a source of strength, creativity, enrichment and renewal in the Tower Hill community. These values are found in both our mission statement and in our institutional goals:

Tower Hill School prepares students from diverse backgrounds for full and creative engagement with a dynamic world.  Each student is provided with an educational experience that emphasizes the development of an inquisitive, discerning and critical mind; the value of being creative and aesthetically sensitive; the appreciation of physical well-being; the ability to collaborate and to function as part of a team; and the growth of character.

Institutional Goal on Inclusivity and Student-Centered School Culture
We will continue to focus on inclusivity, both celebrating and challenging ourselves to ensure a student-centered school culture, an exhilarating academic and extracurricular experience, and a community that knows, welcomes and respects all of our students, faculty, staff and families.

Tower Hill School embraces a broad definition of diversity that acknowledges the many ways each of us is unique, including, but not limited to, our various talents, perspectives, goals, ethnicities, identities, and religions. With this broad definition in mind, we hope to create an educational environment in which each person is genuinely valued, respected and included. We believe that diversity and inclusivity enrich the educational experience and strengthen our overall community.

Dyann Connor
Director of Social Justice and Dean of Recruitment

#ClimbHillsTogether Virtual Event - July 25

#Climbhillstogether originated when two student-athletes wanted to educate their local community through athletics. Athletics bring all cultures and backgrounds together in a powerful way.
Two months after the passing of George Floyd, July 25, 2020, we’re calling on our local community to participate. We ask people to participate by walking, running, biking or swimming 8.46 miles or doing yoga for 8:46 minutes, and to send a reflective video explaining what their action plan is for meaningful change in our community or reflecting on the injustice surrounding us. We are also challenging neighboring schools in our area to join. The purpose of this activity is to reflect, learn and speak up for justice.
Because education is the main goal of having students engage athletically, a resource page will emphasize the importance of listening and learning. We are strongly encouraging student-athletes to use their talents, voices and actions to stand united as we #climbhillstogether.
—Zippy Morrison '23 and Caitlin Smith '23, artwork by Emani Larkin '23

Click here for a guided meditation and reflection by Director of Mindfulness Andrea Sarko

From the Head of School

June 23, 2020

Dear Tower Hill community,

Over the last several weeks, we have engaged students, faculty, parents and alumni in discussion about social justice efforts in our country and at our school. We are proud of the progress Tower Hill has made in recent years, however, we have ongoing work to do.

While Tower Hill does many things well, we have not done things perfectly and it is important to acknowledge that there have indeed been instances where we have caused pain. As individuals, we can all examine our personal biases and actions to help combat racism and inequity in our daily lives and in our communities. As an organization, Tower Hill will examine our institutional policies and systems to advance social justice in our school community. We must stand united in building a school culture that will never tolerate racism or injustice. To this end, Tower Hill stands committed to:

Expanding diversity training  

Tower Hill’s board of trustees, administration, faculty and staff will continue to participate in ongoing diversity and anti-racist training. The school will take a leadership position in facilitating local and regional social justice workshops and conferences, collaborating with other schools and organizations.

Reinforcing accountability and ensuring support systems

Tower Hill’s administration will make sure lines of communication are clear and open so that students, faculty, parents and alumni can find individual and collective support, including voicing concerns that result in appropriate follow up.

Ensuring equity in hiring and compensation 

Tower Hill will be proactive and steadfast in hiring faculty of color, establishing a faculty fellow position that will be filled by an African American teacher. Our Director of Social Justice will continue to serve as Dean of Recruitment and Hiring, as we build a diverse pool of candidates during the hiring process. Faculty and staff will be trained in interviewing protocols and made aware of the role implicit bias can play in attracting, hiring and retaining faculty of color. In addition, Tower Hill will continue to review salary equity and retention success.

Reviewing our curriculum
Tower Hill will review curriculum in all three divisions to ensure diverse authors and perspectives in historical and contemporary content, providing students with opportunities to examine experiences both similar to and different from their own. 

Focusing on admission and community outreach
Tower Hill reaffirms our 2016 Strategic Plan objective to “build and engage a diverse and inclusive community.” This includes socio-economic diversity through continued investment in financial aid so that qualified students can attend Tower Hill. Meaningful academic and service learning opportunities through engaging with a broad external community will help Tower Hill to truly be a school of Wilmington and the world.

Continually investing in our Social Justice Program
Tower Hill’s Social Justice Program has expanded opportunities for students in all three divisions to learn about and discuss race, gender, religion, culture, sexual orientation, age and other aspects of identity. Equity and Inclusion Coordinators in each division will continue to work closely with the Director of Social Justice to foster dialogue, facilitate training, assess curriculum and educate students. Parent affinity groups supporting diversity (DISTINCT) and African American families (PAATH) will continue to support the school’s mission and goals in advancing social justice efforts at Tower Hill.

As Bryan Stevenson, a civil rights lawyer and the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, said in this interview in The New Yorker, “We need to reckon with our history of racial injustice. I think everything we are seeing is a symptom of a larger disease. We have never honestly addressed all the damage that was done during the two and a half centuries that we enslaved Black people. We can and must challenge our school community to be a kinder and more equitable place for all. Tower Hill stands firmly with our Black alumni, faculty, students and families, as we carry out our mission “to prepare students from diverse backgrounds for full and creative engagement with a dynamic world.”

Elizabeth C. Speers
Head of School

Dyann Connor
Director of Social Justice
Eric T. Johnson, M.D.
Chair, Board of Trustees
Message from Head of School Bessie Speers and Board Chair Eric T. Johnson, M.D. - July 21, 2020

Message from Head of School Bessie Speers about racial justice - June 1, 2020

Juneteenth Celebration

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is holding the virtual event “Juneteenth: A Celebration of Resilience” on Friday, June 19, 2020. Learn more.

Social Justice Program

Equity and Inclusion Coordinators and Committees
This year, to better support our school community, we have added Equity and Inclusion Coordinators in each division as follows:
  • Anna Correa and Ann Sullivan in the Lower School
  • Carmen Martinez and Rachel Ashbrook in the Middle School
  • Anna Miller, Ph.D., and Asha Smith in the Upper School

These coordinators have worked with Dyann Connor to launch the following committees:
  • Religious and Cultural Committee
  • Curriculum Committee
  • Community Conversations Committee
  • Social Justice and the Environment Committee
  • DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) Faculty Committee
The above committees meet regularly to discuss and implement community-building ideas and educational initiatives on equity and inclusion at Tower Hill.

Tower Hill School’s 2019-2020 social justice program also included guest speakers, professional development workshops, conversations and other initiatives that invite students to engage in courageous conversations about build and engage a more inclusive and student-centered community:

Faculty Development
This summer our new faculty and several current teachers attended the ADVIS Multicultural Resource Center’s professional development conference at Episcopal Academy where they learned how to create student-centered, inclusive classroom environments. In addition to this event, our faculty attend Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training throughout the year, including:
  • Faculty SEED: Each year a group of faculty are selected to continue their professional development on diversity and inclusivity through the SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) Program at Tower Hill School. More information.
  • MCRC@ADVIS: On Oct. 11, 2019, Tower Hill hosted the bi-annual MultiCultural Resource Center at Association of Delaware Valley Independent Schools’ multi-state diversity, equity and inclusion conference. This conference is widely known and attended by independent schools in the multi-state area. Over 60 workshop presentations were available for over 800 faculty/administrators and heads of schools in attendance. 

Social Justice Program in the Upper School
Speakers and Assemblies: 
  • Jason Flom and Piper Kerman were this year’s Forum speakers. Their talks are on civil rights and human rights in the criminal justice system.
  • Tony Allen: President of Delaware State University will speak with students and parents at the Social Justice Black History dinner co-sponsored by parent groups PAATH and DISTINCT 
  • Rosetta Lee: Diversity speaker and trainer has served several years on the faculty of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Diversity Leadership Institute
  • Assemblies: Community Conversations this year will focus on identity with gender and socio-economic status. 
  • The Symposium 2020:  This is the third annual diversity, equity, and inclusion conference held at Tower Hill School for Upper School students.  Our entire US community is involved in this event and we also invite area schools to attend. While students attend workshops on diversity and inclusion, our faculty participate in a professional development on educational equity.

Social Justice Program in the Middle School 
  • “LEAD @ Tower Hill School”: Leaning Into Equity Awareness and Diversity Conference is in its second year at Tower Hill School. LEAD is a multi-school conference for students in grades seven and eight. Students from all local independent schools in Delaware as well as some from the Lower Merion and Philadelphia areas, attended.
  • Faculty Professional Development for the Middle School LEAD program will be led by Jenna Chandler-Ward, who has presented at NAIS and ADVIS many times.
  • Lunch and Learns student gatherings for grades 7 and 8 were first established in Spring of 2017 and have flourished each academic year. These lunch-time meetings are open to all Middle School students and are well attended with an average size of 50-60 students for each gathering. The conversations are are student-led with discussions focusing on ways we can work collaboratively to create a more inclusive, kinder community. This year we will extend our Lunch and Learn meetings to grades 5 and 6. 

Also new to Middle School last year was the introduction of social justice themes by grade level. The goal is to increase understanding, inclusion, empathy and allyship through our existing curriculum. This year the hope is to encourage teachers to further incorporate these themes into their curriculum and the MS community: 

Social Justice Theme for Grade 5: Kindness, Friendship and Allyship 
  • Focus is on how to be kind, respectful and stand up for what you believe is right.
  • Focus on being an Upstander not a Bystander.
  • Focus on how to become an inclusive member of the Middle School community. 
SJ Theme for Grade 6: Gratitude for a Community that includes Respect and Value for Diversity
  • Focus on exploring ways we are the same and different. 
  • Focus on respecting and valuing the strength that diversity brings to a community, athletic team, collaborative work, etc.
SJ Theme for Grade 7: disABILITIES  
  • Focus on the ABILITIES we each have and developing ways to be a more inclusive community. 
SJ Theme for Grade 8: Courage: Design Thinking in Social Justice
  • Focus on working together to make our school community, Wilmington, and the World a kinder,  more inclusive community through communication and problem solving to build bridges across differences. 

Social Justice Program in the Lower School
  • The AMAZE Program is an anti-bias literature curriculum that is designed to enhance socio-learning environments for younger students by engaging them in books and conversations that build understanding and respect across differences. More information.
  • Lower School Courageous Conversations and Morning Meetings:are planned to foster a dialogue within classroom communities about important topics relating to equity and inclusion. 
These conversations are facilitated by the LS Equity and Inclusion Coordinators.

Social Justice Program and Home & School 
The Director of Social Justice also collaborates with Home and School parent groups: PAATH (Parents of African American students at Tower Hill) and DISTINCT (Diversity and Inclusion at Tower Hill).

Together, Tower Hill, PAATH and DISTINCT host several educational events and socials throughout the year, for our entire family community. This year, our Black History Month dinner will feature speaker Tony Allen, President of Delaware State University. 

Parent SEED Program:
Beginning in October, we hosted our first Parent SEED cohort which is similar to the Faculty SEED cohort. Members of this cohort include parents and parent leaders from Lower, Middle and Upper school divisions.

The Brandywine River Museum has two social justice themed exhibits in 2020:
Votes for Women: A Visual History
Witness to History: Selma Photography of Stephen Somerstein


PAATH (Parents of African-Americans at Tower Hill)
PAATH sponsors activities and programs that celebrate the African-American experience as a valued and integral component of a Tower Hill education. We also foster an appreciation for diversity, promote cultural competence and help create a supportive environment for African-American families.

DISTINCT (Diversity and Inclusion at Tower Hill)
DISTINCT organizes social and community-building activities to promote the fellowship of parents who advocate for the benefits of diversity in education at Tower Hill School. We also collaborate with Director of Social Justice Dyann Connor to support schoolwide events and programming.

To join PAATH and/or DISTINCT, please contact Director of Social Justice Dyann Connor at dconnor@towerhill.org.

Speakers and Trainers

Director of the Equal Justice Initiative
Professor at New York University

Elizabeth Denevi, Ph.D.

Associate Director of the Mid West Educational Collaborative
Adam Foley, Ph.D.
Program Coordinator for the Office of Equity and Inclusion at the University of Delaware
Alden Habacon
University of British Columbia Diversity and Inclusion Strategist
Rosetta Lee
Seattle Girls’ School Diversity Speaker and Trainer
Carol Henderson, Ph.D.
Vice Provost University of Delaware Office of Equity and Inclusion
Karla Fleshman
Clinical Social Work/Therapist, Transitions Delaware

Sandra Chapman
Founder of Chap Equity

Nyle Fort
Ph.D. student in religion and African-American studies at Princeton University

Jenna Chandler Ward
Co-Founder of Teaching While White

Jen Cort
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Educator

Jennifer Bryan, Ph.D.
Founder of Team Finch Consultants

Sheri Schmidt, Ph.D.
Social Justice Educator

Diversity and Inclusion Events

List of 8 events.

View All Events

Social Justice Team

Dyann Connor
Strategic vision, program coordination

Ann Sullivan
First Grade Teacher
AMAZE Anti-bias literature

Anna Correa
Fourth Grade Teacher
Morning meetings and announcements

Carmen Martinez
Middle School Spanish
Lunch and Learns

Rachel Ashbrook
Middle School English
Lunch and Learns

Asha Smith
Upper School Coordinator

Anna Miller, Ph.D.
Upper School French
Community Conversations and Religious and Cultural Committee

Celebrating Black History Month