About Us

Equity and Inclusion

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging

Our Vibrant Community

Brimmer’s diversity strengthens our welcoming and inclusive community. We host affinity group meetings for Middle and Upper School students and families of color and bring in speakers and hold workshops for on a range of topics addressing diversity, equity, inclusion & belonging. We also hold numerous events that celebrate cultural traditions and share about our differences and our common humanity. These programs—along with our school culture and set of values—enhance our collective experience of community, educate our students about social justice and equity, and empower our students to be responsible citizens and empathetic, ethical leaders.

Jessica Christian, Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging

As a school, we must work hard to create an equitable environment for all and actively teach and practice anti-bias and anti-racism at every level.

Meet our Director

Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging Jessica Christian leads Brimmer's efforts to ensure that our community honors its diversity and fosters equity, mutual respect, appreciation, and the ability to embrace difference. She organizes events, programs, professional development, and meetings for students, faculty, and families, and facilitates our affinity groups. Ms. Christian is available to meet with members of the Brimmer community that might need individual attention.

Building an Equitable Community

Everyday Activism: Moving from Talk to Walk
Lawrence Alexander, our DEI consultant for the 2020-2021 academic year, gave the keynote address for our 16th Annual Bissell Grogan Symposium, which focused on our school-year theme, Building an Equitable Community. In his presentation, entitled Everyday Activism: Moving from Talk to Walk, Mr. Alexander spoke to Middle & Upper School faculty and students in grades 7-12 with the intention of helping our communities, and particularly our students, lead authentic systemic change. He addressed the protests and demonstrations, focusing on how we can sustain the change for which we have marched. You can view a recording of Mr. Alexander's presentation here.

Recent Communications

List of 6 items.

  • Response to Buffalo Tragedy

    It is with a heavy heart that I write to you to acknowledge the atrocities of several incidents of gun violence across the country this past weekend: a shooting at a majority Taiwanese church in California killed 1 person and injured 5; a shooting at a Dallas salon that injured three people is possibly connected to previous similar shootings, and may have been a hate crime targeting Asian Americans; a mass shooting at a Buffalo, NY supermarket by a self-proclaimed white supremacist and anti-Semite who was targeting Black people killed 10 people. The stain of gun violence and racism on our country is clear.
     
    Judy Guild and I sent a letter to our faculty, staff, and Middle and Upper School students addressing the violence, condemning it, and assuring them that we have supports here at school in our counselors and advisors for processing these tragic events. Mrs. Guild spoke to the Middle and Upper School students in person on Monday morning to share the same thoughts and to explain the danger of hate.
     
    I am writing to connect with you and share Brimmer’s actions at a time of national grief over these senseless acts of violence and racism, but also to provide you with guidance in speaking with your children about these events, should they come up in your homes. Additionally, students often bring their questions and concerns about the news to school; in preparation for those conversations, we have provided our faculty in all three divisions with resources to facilitate those discussions, should they arise, with students Pre-K through Grade 12. These are difficult conversations to have, and of utmost importance is assuring our students of our ongoing efforts to keep our school safe. The resources below are meant to give guidance on how to have these conversations with even the youngest children.
     
    Brimmer condemns gun violence, racism, and hate crimes of any kind, and we mourn the lives lost this past weekend. At times like this, we are grateful for your partnership in creating a more peaceful world as we watch our children grow. Whenever we are able to engage in activities that can make our communities safer and more joyful, we should.
     
    “I have decided to stick with love; hate is too great a burden to bear.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
     
    Resources for families:
     
     
     
     
     
     
  • Celebrating Pride Month in the Lower School

    At Brimmer, we are proud to recognize historically marginalized communities all year round, but particularly in their national months of celebration. These months include Latinx or Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15), Black History Month (February), and Women’s History Month (March). Most recently, we recognized and celebrated Jewish American Heritage Month and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, both in May. We are very excited to close out the academic year by celebrating those in the LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month in June!
     
    Although the inception of Pride Month, which dates back to 1970, is a story of resistance and protest in the name of liberation and freedom to live authentically, over the decades, Pride Month celebrations have become joyful events that center love, family, and honoring individuality. That is the spirit that we will embrace in the month of June, as it connects so deeply with our Core Values. Celebrating Pride at Brimmer also means celebrating a part of our community that is represented in our faculty and staff, our families, and our students in all three divisions of the School.
     
    With the help of our consultants at Think Again Training, an organization our full faculty has been working with all year, our Lower School teachers have been busy organizing age-appropriate lessons and projects to celebrate Pride Month. The project we are most excited about is a community Pride Flag project, in which each classroom in the Lower School will create a class flag, which will be modeled after the traditional Pride flag, but will center on the pride students have in their classrooms and in themselves.
     
    We encourage you to focus on themes of love and family during Pride Month and to honor the range, even within the Brimmer community, of what makes a family a family. We are so happy to have children here who take pride in their families and feel they belong, whether they live with a mom and a dad, two moms, two dads, one parent, or another family member or caregiver. Please take a look at this list of library resources created by our librarians. Below are more resources for having discussions with your child about LGBTQ+ topics in ways that are accessible for children of any age.
     
    We look forward to joy and warmth in the month of June and to our Lower School students feeling Pride in themselves and in their school community.
     
     
     
    https://childwellbeing.asu.edu/explainingpridemonth
  • Indigenous Peoples’ Day & National Coming Out Day

    On October 11, we will honor two important communities; the Indigenous communities in our country on Indigenous Peoples’ Day and those in the LGBTQ+ community, as Monday is also National Coming Out Day.

    As we move into Monday and think about the Indigenous communities here in Massachusetts and across the country and the world, I encourage you to learn together with your child about the land on which we live and the ways in which we can honor Indigenous people and their tribal histories. While we want to celebrate local Indigenous communities, it is also important to remember the current and historical struggles of Indigenous people, including stolen land and violent conflicts. Brimmer’s new Director of Middle and Upper School Library, who also supervises our PK–12 library programs, has put together a wonderful list of resources to learn about the significance of this day. You can also visit your town or city’s webpage to learn more about local celebrations and ceremonies near your home. These activities help to support Indigenous communities nearby.

    We also honor those in our lives who are part of the LGBTQ+ community with National Coming Out Day, which began officially in 1987. Brimmer is proud to partner with Think Again Training & Consulting this year as we work toward becoming a more inclusive and equitable community. Through faculty and staff trainings this year, we hope to take a more active role in being a place where students and families of all sexualities and gender identities feel a sense of belonging. On Monday, I encourage you to think of ways to support and embrace those in your lives and families who are part of the LGBTQ+ community. LGBTQ+ youth are among the most at-risk populations in the country, and we must work together to be a safe space for all identities. 
  • Stop Asian Hate

    We are deeply saddened and angered by the recent and horrific violence in Atlanta that targeted the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community living and working there. This was a deadly reminder of the anti-Asian racism that has skyrocketed in this country over the last year. AAPI individuals have experienced harassment and assaults due to extreme xenophobia, purposeful misinformation, and blatant racism. Our Asian and Asian-American students have reported to us these attacks in and around Boston. These are our students, our children. We stand with our AAPI students, families, faculty, staff, and alumni at Brimmer and the AAPI communities across the country in denouncing this hatred and violence. We will continue to fight against this racism as we work toward becoming a truly anti-racist community. 

    #StopAsianHate Resources (Added April 1, 2021)
     
    Anti-Asian Violence Resources, MADE BY HAAPI ERG | FLEXPORT
     
    After Atlanta: Teaching About Asian American Identity and History, from Learning for Justice (Formerly Teaching Tolerance)
     
  • Women's History Month

    The “unsung hero” trope can often seem like just that: a trope, performative and often steeped in superficiality. That always concerns me as we move into months of celebrating marginalized populations. Looking ahead to March, Women’s History Month, I found myself having the same concern. But as I reflected back on my 20 years in the work force, I realized that we are still experiencing a lot of “firsts:” Halle Berry, the first Black woman to win an Academy Award (2001); Nancy Pelosi, the first woman House Minority Leader (2006) and first woman Speaker of the House (2007); Sonia Sotomayor, the first woman of color to serve on the US Supreme Court (2009); Sarah Palin, first woman nominated for Vice President of the Republican Party (2008); Kamala Harris, first woman (and woman of color) Vice President of the United States (2020). There are countless others in just the last twenty years. Perhaps we, as women, are still scratching at the proverbial glass ceiling, still waiting for it to shatter.
     
    I have worked in three independent schools in my career, two, including Brimmer, headed by strong, fiercely intelligent women. Still, we fight for equal pay and equal treatment, among other gender-based battles. I find that I am still inspired by women of all ages who are breaking the mold and accomplishing things that only men had accomplished before.
     
    The month of March is dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments of women. In the two weeks that we are in school during that month, I look forward to conversations, books, and visuals that remind us that women are powerful and capable of amazing things. This inspires not only our female students, but all of our students.
     
    I encourage you to read about women with your child, regardless of their gender. Teach them about Misty Copeland, Sandra Day O’Connor, and Sally Ride. Explain the struggles and celebrate the successes. Together, we will continue to move forward.
  • Call to Action: Summer of 2020

    For decades, Brimmer has held the belief that our community is strengthened by its racial, geographic, and ethnic diversity. We are proud to represent each neighborhood in Boston as well as a number of countries around the world. However, an increasingly loud and necessary call to action in our country requires us to address and disrupt practices that perpetuate bias and institutional anti-black racism. In order to be a school that truly honors the diversity within its community, we must work harder to create an equitable environment for all and actively teach and practice anti-bias and anti-racism at every level. To that end, we will take a number of action steps to rebuild our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) practices to ensure that they are embedded completely in each fiber that holds our school together.

    Between the summer of 2020 and the end of the 2020-2021 academic year, Brimmer plans to:
    • Create an ongoing DEI Task Force that includes the Director of Equity and Inclusion as well as faculty, staff, and additional members of the Administrative Team, and revamps and restructures DEI committees at the divisional levels to ensure that equity and inclusion work is embedded in each classroom and each part of Brimmer’s programming
    • Host a series of open forums for alumni of color, where we will listen to and learn from their experiences and adjust programming accordingly
    • Host a series of meetings for faculty and staff of color to share their experiences as employees of the School • Continue to offer affinity groups for families of color and for students of color; student groups may expand in number as needs arise and/or become clearer
    • Review our curriculum and identify areas for improvement so that students see themselves reflected in their learning • Actively recruit faculty and staff members who will reflect the diversity within the student body, with particular focus on Black and Latinx faculty
    • Require that each faculty member engage in reading about anti-racism before the start of the 2020-2021 academic year
    • Put into place an implementation plan for bringing summer reading into faculty practices and teachings throughout the year
    • Support the Board of Trustees in its efforts to meet the School’s strategic priorities through trainings, professional development, and regular updates on the above goals
    These action steps are the beginning of a new era in Brimmer’s history as an academic institution. We own our part in our country’s responsibility to dismantle the structural racism that has had a tight hold on our communities for hundreds of years. It is our duty to teach our children their country’s true history as it pertains to race and its role in enslaving others for gain so that we graduate young adults who will carry out our mission as ethical leaders in our diverse world. 

Affinity Groups and Training

List of 5 items.

  • Affinity Groups & Student Diversity Clubs

    Students have the option to participate in clubs and affinity groups including:

    • African American/Latino/Multi-racial Affinity Group
    • International Students from China Affinity Group
    • AAPI Club
    • GSA (Gender and Sexuality for All)
    • Student Diversity Leadership Club
    • Middle School Diversity Lunch Group
    • Grade 5 Diversity Lunch Bunch
    Topics discussed in our groups may include: celebrations of identity, history lessons, politics, current events, and microaggressions. The make-up and existence of our groups may change year-to-year as we respond to the needs of our community.
  • Student Conferences

    Brimmer students help to develop internal diversity programming at the Lower, Middle, and Upper School levels. Off campus, students attend conferences including:

    • NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC)
    • AISNE Middle School Diversity Conference
    • AISNE Middle School Student of Color Conference
    • AISNE High School Student of Color Conference
    These conferences address topics of race but also cover in depth issues surrounding socio-economic differences, gender identity, and sexual orientation, among other things.
  • Community Meetings for Diversity

    All members of community—staff, families, and students gather each quarter for dinner and a meeting that focuses on the celebration of culture, announcing upcoming events at the School, setting goals for diversity efforts, and exchanging information.
  • Professional Development & Faculty Conferences

    Faculty members attend conferences and workshops through organizations such as AISNE and NAIS that focus on topics including white privilege, representation of diversity in the classroom, and teaching students of color. Faculty members also attend the NAIS People of Color Conference (PoCC) each year.
  • Faculty & Staff Training

    This includes workshops and professional development training from organizations such as the National Association of Independent School (NAIS); the Association of Independent Schools in New England (AISNE); Bay Area People of Color in Independent Schools (POCIS); the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN); and Visions. The Diversity Director has bi-monthly internal meetings with all the members of the Diversity Council.

Recent Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging News

List of 3 news stories.

  • Chinese Culture Celebrations

    We were so happy to honor the Year of the Tiger and the Lunar New Year with our community members who celebrate! 
    Read More
  • Black Joy

    Emily Miller, Head of Lower School
    Black History Month has begun. While special recognition is reserved for the month of February, it is important that Black history becomes an integral and integrated part of our teaching and curricula, and not only a stand-alone topic.
    Read More
  • Honoring MLK

    In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a group of our students came together to make a video, using parts of his “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution” speech at Morehouse College.
    Read More

Lower School DEIB Committee

List of 7 members.

  • Photo of Jessica Christian

    Jessica Christian 

    Director Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging
  • Photo of Kimberly Formisano

    Kimberly Formisano 

    Head of Lower School
  • Photo of Rachel Wolf Heyman

    Rachel Wolf Heyman 

    LS Drama Teacher, LS Diversity Facilitator
  • Photo of Ina Patel

    Ina Patel 

    Lower School Director of Teaching & Learning
  • Photo of Taylor Vaughn

    Taylor Vaughn 

    PK Teacher
  • Photo of Janeata Robinson

    Janeata Robinson 

    Registrar, Lower School Diversity
  • Photo of Debra Castro

    Debra Castro 

    Grade 1 Teacher

MS/US DEIB Committee

List of 7 members.

  • Photo of Jessica Christian

    Jessica Christian 

    Director Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging
  • Photo of Carl Vallely

    Carl Vallely 

    Assistant Head of School, Head of Middle School
  • Photo of Joshua Neudel

    Joshua Neudel 

    Head of Upper School
  • Photo of Emily Luckett

    Emily Luckett 

    Upper School Counselor
  • Photo of Kelly Neely

    Kelly Neely 

    Director of Global Studies, History Department Chair, History & Global Studies Teacher
  • Photo of Nicole DeCesare

    Nicole DeCesare 

    Associate Director of Marketing & Communications
  • Photo of Elyse Seltzer

    Elyse Seltzer 

    Director MS/US Library, Supervisor of the Library Program PK-12, DEI Curriculum Liaison
As an inclusive private school community, Brimmer welcomes students who will increase the diversity of our school. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sex, gender, gender identity and expression, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, or any other characteristic protected from discrimination under state or federal law, in the administration of our educational policies, admissions practices, financial aid decisions, and athletic and other school-administered programs.