Hawken School’s original rule book nearly one hundred years ago consisted of two words: Fair Play. Signs depicting the motto were hung in every classroom, and if the spirit of Fair Play was violated, the sign would be temporarily removed from the walls.

Today, you will still find Fair Play signs on the walls of all Hawken classrooms – a reminder of our school’s emphasis on the importance of character. The concept of Fair Play remains at the core of our community’s collective consciousness, along with our founder James A. Hawken’s original goal for his students: “That the better self shall prevail and each generation introduce its successor to a higher plane of life.” These guiding principles and shared beliefs, which apply to academic, athletic, personal, social, and professional conduct, keep our community grounded in integrity, accountability, and respect. 


Hawken’s mission calls upon us as individuals and as a community to periodically examine and evaluate the content of our character and culture through a new lens – the feminist movement and the civil rights movement being perhaps the most notable historical examples. Today, we find ourselves at a similar pivotal point in our story as we prepare our students for an increasingly global world while honoring our commitment to Fair Play. As one senior comments, “Fair Play is something you have to cultivate and nurture. It’s not like some magic. It’s something you have to work on.”

The Board of Trustees clearly see the wisdom in these words, as they recently added a new priority to the 2018 strategic plan: Deepening Fair Play: Diversity, Equity, and Social Justice.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

At Hawken, we believe that diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice are critical to the development of character and intellect. In our efforts to build a community where each individual is included and treated equitably, we work intentionally to cultivate an environment where students learn essential skills and tools necessary to thrive in an ever-changing, interconnected, and globally diverse world. Hawken’s Director of Fair Play is currently working alongside faculty members and administrators to develop equity and inclusion curriculum and programming that allows students to see through multiple lenses, learn from the stories and life experiences of others, and build empathy.

Recently, the Administrative Council approved the following diversity statement for Hawken School:

Hawken School Diversity Statement

Hawken School’s steadfast commitment to diversity in all of its forms is rooted in our mission of “forward-focused preparation for the real world through the development of character and intellect.” We honor the dignity of every human being, and we respect and value differences including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, political and social values, culture, religion, and physical ability. We believe that this commitment to diversity, equity, and social justice is vital to the realization and cultivation of character and intellect in our students.

Through our policies, programs, and practices, we actively promote a culture of respect, social awareness, and moral responsibility. Employees are expected to model and encourage intellectual growth and curiosity through the open and respectful exchange of ideas, thereby empowering students to think critically, challenge assumptions, engage in creative and collaborative problem solving, and learn from one another.

We affirm our commitment to introducing the next generation to “a higher plane of life” and believe it is the responsibility of every member of our community to act with integrity, empathy, honesty, kindness, and compassion, ensuring that all constituents feel welcomed, accepted, respected, and valued. We understand that striving toward cultural competency is not always easy work; it requires a high level of personal awareness, ethical courage, and intellectual challenge. It also demands that we value all that makes us unique, explore perspectives that challenge our own, and initiate and engage in candid and courageous conversations. Our motto of Fair Play demands nothing less.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Faculty Leaders

Darnell Epps, hired in 2018, sees his position as a step toward realizing our aspirational goals for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice. “It’s important to have a designated person who can provide the resources and has the bandwidth to help lead this effort for students, teachers, and families.” 
 
Stay tuned for more details about the progress of Hawken’s Fair Play initiative as Epps continues to work alongside Gates Mills faculty members Kamaya Thompson, coordinator of faculty growth for diversity, equity, and inclusion and Ambrose Faturoti, coordinator of student life for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Thompson and Faturoti have been facilitating faculty discussions and affinity groups and are supported by the Student Senate, which has initiated a plan to move toward an increasingly inclusive culture at Hawken’s Upper School.
An independent, coeducational, college preparatory day school, toddler through grade 12

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