Diversity and inclusion are at the heart of the Breakwater mission statement.
Breakwater’s mission is to engage our students in an optimal learning experience that inspires them to live well on the planet, embrace their whole being, and realize their full potential. We accomplish this by continually reviewing and applying best educational practice while remaining true to our community’s values and spirit.
We know that learning is the most powerful when it is mission focused and inclusive. Optimal learning takes place in an environment that honors each individual for who they are, meets students where they are, and values multiple perspectives, diversity, and social justice. In this learning environment, diverse perspectives are invited, understood, and respected.
Breakwater is a community that affirms the dignity of each person. We aspire to reflect the diversity of humanity and to enroll and employ individuals encompassing a variety of social, religious, racial, cultural, gender, and economic orientations and backgrounds.
We value a school community where individuals may share and express a variety of perspectives in ways that enhance the education and experience of everyone within the community.
We are committed to an environment of equality, dignity, care and respect. As a faculty and staff, we take advantage of professional development opportunities that center around diversity and inclusion, share experiences and conversations that come up in classrooms, and review and apply best educational practices.
Diversity and Inclusion in Action
Below is a small sample of the ways we strive for and celebrate diversity and inclusion at Breakwater.
During two professional development days this spring, the entire Breakwater faculty and staff were immersed in full day workshops and trainings focused on cultural and intercultural competency. Over the course of the two days, faculty and staff members learned from lectures, small group discussions, and large group discussions led by the founders of Maine Intercultural Communications Consultants. The overarching goal of the series was to really get curious about our own culture as individuals and as a school and further explore how that culture shapes the lense through which we view the world and the assumptions we make. While digging into this work, faculty and staff investigated how biases and privileges that we have (even those we are unaware of) can impact our work as educators and community members. Read the full article in our school newsletter here
Exploring World Cultures in Preschool
When a classmate moved across the world during the school year, preschool students started to get curious about where their friend was going, what his new home might look like, and how far from Maine he was moving to. The questions and curiosities sparked by their friend's move drove a rich study of world cultures that spanned over several months in our preschool classrooms. This immersion into world cultures inspired art and sensory projects, ignited conversations with 3rd and 4th grade learning buddies, and brought in parent visitors who shared stories of their native countries and or travels around the world!
Students 4 Civil Rights
Students 4 Civil Rights is an after school club that meets weekly on Fridays. The club is open to 3rd-8th grade students and aims to foster conversations pertaining to equality and inequality, fairness, rights and wrongs, and the history of civil rights groups in America and around the world. Through facilitated conversations, the group strives to make a difference and promote equality. Club members are encouraged to ask questions and collaborate to seek solutions on a local and community level. During the 2018-2019 school year, the students immersed themselves in the Greater Portland community with a series of events and trips. Such opportunities included hearing Angela Davis speak at the University of New England, attending the Student Led Climate Rally in Augusta, and helping to represent Breakwater in the Pride! Portland parade
Supporting Community Through Financial Aid
We strongly believe enrolling a varied and talented group of children and their families benefits all in our school community. We also recognize that paying independent school tuition is a significant financial commitment. In the interest of extending a Breakwater education to as many children as possible, and benefiting all students by increasing socioeconomic diversity within our school, we provide financial assistance to qualified kindergarten through grade 8 students whose families cannot afford the full charges. In fact, over half of our students at Breakwater receive some sort of financial aid.
Gender/ Sexuality Alliance
GSA is a club open to 6th-8th grade students that was started in 2016 after many students voiced a desire to have such a club at Breakwater. The mission of the group is to create a safe and inclusive school climate for all students while promoting equality and representation for the LGBTQ+ community. Club members claim a new title each year based on their members - such titles have included RAINBOW and PRIDE CLUB. The club meets weekly during lunch and organizes events such as “GLSEN’s No Name Calling Week,” Rainbow Dance, Be True to You Talent and Drag Show and organizes school community members to march with them in the annual Pride! Portland parade. Students partake in meetings and conversations that teach them to value diversity and practice tolerance and acceptance.