Diversity and Inclusion
CLS Diversity Mission Statement: As a community of learners, Charlotte Latin School is committed to creating a welcoming and supportive environment that accepts and honors all people. We respect individual differences, including, but not limited to, ethnicity, gender, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status.
We seek to foster a community that appreciates the benefits and responsibilities of living in a diverse world.
We believe that a deep understanding and valuing of difference is necessary to our overall mission and that community-wide participation in programs that advance the goals of diversity and inclusion is the key to our commitment.
Sonja Taylor has joined Charlotte Latin as the School's Director of Diversity and Inclusion. Taylor was previously at the South Carolina Governor's School for Science and Mathematics (GSSM), where she was the Diversity Recruitment Manager. Her role included directing all initiatives to attract and retain underrepresented students, building and managing outreach and school district partnerships and collaborating with civil rights, social and community organizations to increase science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) interest and participation among racial minorities. Prior to her work at GSSM, she was a science curriculum writer for CPO Science, in Nashua, New Hampshire, where she wrote physics, chemistry, biology and other scientific content for inquiry-based secondary science education textbooks, created model lesson plans for teachers, and managed curriculum and assessment projects in several states. Taylor was also a public high school science teacher in Attleboro, Massachusetts, and Orlando, Florida, and a chemist at the start of her career at the Flowers Chemical Laboratories.
Taylor has a long history of service focused on sharing her knowledge and expertise in STEM. Her service work includes the Columbia Urban League, who awarded her their President's Award in 2013, the Girl Scouts of South Carolina Mountains to Midlands, and 100 Black Men of Myrtle Beach. She was also awarded the 2016 Director's Community Leadership Award from the Federal Bureau of Investigation for her efforts to promote social justice and advance STEM access and learning in communities across South Carolina.
"We are delighted to have Sonja join our School community," said Headmaster Arch N. McIntosh, Jr. "She is uniquely qualified to fill this position, and she brings a wealth of experience and skills to support our diversity and inclusivity initiatives. I am grateful for the work of the search committee and all those involved in the hiring process. As Sonja transitions to Latin in a few weeks, I want every member of the CLS community to support her and to welcome her to our School."
Taylor arrived on campus in mid-March to learn about and observe the school community, as well as Charlotte. She will develop a strategic plan that the School will implement in the 2017-18 school year.
About her appointment, Taylor said, "Charlotte Latin School has an excellent academic reputation entrenched in its commitment to educating the whole child. This setting is conducive for incorporating institutional principles of diversity and inclusion. I am thrilled to join the Latin family and look forward to serving the School and Charlotte communities."
Taylor earned a B.S., in Chemistry from Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, Texas, an M.Ed., in Divergent Learning from Columbia College, Columbia, South Carolina, and is pursuing an Ed.D. at the University of South Carolina in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis on diversity, inclusion and culturally responsive pedagogy.
WHAT WE VALUE... The expanding religious, ethnic and cultural diversity in the City of Charlotte has redefined our city into a global community with a renewed emphasis on social justice, equity and excellence. An affirmation of our core values is required to address new educational and socio-economic imperatives to strengthen quality learning and to build a more inclusive institution. Our students, parents, alumni and community stakeholders look to our institution as an educational leader that embraces diversity with moral courage, integrity and a commitment to “Honor Above All."
OUR COMMITMENT... Charlotte Latin is a community made up of individuals representing diverse religious, ethnic, racial and cultural backgrounds from around the state and world. Within this community we appreciate and value the fact that there are people with different faith and cultural perspectives as well as those who do not adhere to a particular faith tradition. The School was founded and continues to operate as a non-sectarian independent school that supports a “faith friendly" environment. While the institution is not affiliated with nor states a preference for one particular religion or faith tradition over another, we will intentionally respect the diverse traditions represented by our students, faculty and staff.
The mission of our School is to encourage individual development and civility in our students by inspiring them to learn, by encouraging them to serve others, and by offering them many growth-promoting opportunities. Ideally, opportunities to learn about cultural, ethnic and religious traditions should be provided within the framework of the educational curriculum. Information about religious and cultural holidays and ethnic traditions focusing on how and when celebrated, their origins and histories should be part of instruction. This educational opportunity should be handled with great care, sensitivity and respect for the feelings and beliefs of individuals. Recognizing and valuing differences in ideologies and perspectives are a part of learning. Developing this skill promotes empathy and understanding encouraging students to become servant leaders.
Consistent with this belief, we respect individual expressions of faith through prayer, study and celebration. Our goal is to create an environment that encourages students of various ethnic backgrounds to feel comfortable in sharing comments about their religious and/or cultural traditions. No student should be singled out to share or participate in such discussions solely on the basis of the student's identification with the religious or cultural heritage being addressed. A student's preference not to share or participate in such discussions should be honored and respected without penalty.
These expressions should always take place with the needs of individuals and the larger institution in mind and should strike the appropriate balance between recognizing one's own perspective and acknowledging respect for the views of others. We believe that it is everyone's responsibility to ensure that his/her actions reflect this perspective. Should a practice be experienced as out of balance, it is the responsibility of the individual who believes the practice is inappropriate to share those concerns with a Division Head, the Director of Diversity, and/or Headmaster for review and action.
We believe that the following guidelines represent an active recognition of the diversity that exists among our students and faculty with respect to religious and cultural views and faith traditions. We want our students and faculty to grow in their understanding of the larger global community and the diversity of traditions that exist around the world.
Charlotte Latin School is committed to an environment of inclusion where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.
Charlotte Latin's commitment to diversity literally began on the day it opened its doors for the first time in September of 1970 as Charlotte's first integrated independent school. Since that time, year after year, Charlotte Latin has strived to create a balanced and engaging class profile that sustains and invigorates school culture and appreciates the educational value of diversity in Charlotte and the nation. For more than forty years, the Latin community has embraced students and their families who represent a rich variety of nationalities, ethnicities, races, and faith traditions.
The Charlotte Latin community's diversity journey has taken substantive steps that highlight the evolving value of inclusion on campus and the importance of promoting diversity as a key component of a quality educational experience for all independent school students. In 1994, Charlotte Latin hosted “Beyond Diversity: Talking with One Another," a conference of independent school educators designed to encourage a dialogue among people of various backgrounds. Former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt joined the conference as a featured speaker. The School once again led the focus on diversity in 1996 by hosting a North Carolina Association of Independent Schools conference titled, “The Classroom Collage: Seeking the Pieces of Diversity in Our Schools." More than 700 administrators and teachers from across North Carolina participated in the conference, which emphasized the importance of racial and cultural diversity in our schools, as well as recognized and celebrated diverse learning and teaching styles.
In 2003, Charlotte Latin further strengthened its commitment to promoting diversity as an instructional priority by appointing Mr. Greg Everett, a member of the Upper School faculty, as the School's first Diversity Coordinator. In 2006, Mr. Nicholas Wharton was named Latin's first, full-time Director of Diversity to lead strategic diversity goals and objectives across the institution.
The School community participated in a lengthy campus review process in 2006 to develop the CLS Statement of Religious and Cultural Diversity, a policy that serves as a reaffirmation of Latin's commitment to diversity and inclusion and to its non-sectarian tradition. In 2009, Charlotte Latin hosted a Community Relations Luncheon during which key representatives of Charlotte's diverse communities and faith organizations engaged in discussions to promote trust and cross cultural understanding. As a result of authentic and candid dialogue, several collaborative initiatives were developed to enrich student learning, educational outreach, and access to the city's diverse communities. In 2011, Charlotte Latin School broadened its non-discrimination statement to include sexual orientation.