Our Approach

At Rivers, we seek to inspire curiosity and cultivate empathy in our students. We also want our students to develop into engaged citizens—young people who will stand up for themselves and one another, who will challenge all forms of prejudice and bigotry, and who will seek solutions to systemic problems of injustice.

Thus, we believe DEI skills are essential to upholding the school’s mission that aims to prepare our students to live and lead in a multicultural society. Some of the skills we strive to develop in our students include: 

  • Examining our own implicit biases and areas of privilege
  • Understanding the ways in which identity shapes one’s view of the world and one’s position in society
  • Using our community norms to foster authentic conversations, encourage risk-taking, and navigate conflict constructively
  • Engaging meaningfully across difference of opinion and perspective
  • Asking the kinds of questions that reveal complexity and nuance within any given topic
  • Understanding how systems of power shape history and our present reality
  • Interrupting microaggressions and other bias incidents

DEI Programming

Each year, the entire Rivers community engages around a DEI theme that challenges us to reflect on who we are and who we want to be—both as individuals and as an institution. This programming is integrated into the daily life of the school; it gives students regular opportunities to build new understandings, practice new language, and ask new questions. Student DEI programming is supported by professional development for faculty and staff and complemented by opportunities for parental education and involvement.

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  • 2022-2023 Theme: Rivers Stands Up—Confronting Bias to Build Community

    At the heart of this year’s theme is the implementation of our new bias-incident protocol, part of our continued efforts to create a safe and inclusive environment for all members of our community. Grounded in restorative practices, the protocol gives us new ways to build awareness, channel conflicts into learning opportunities, repair harm, and nurture the relationships that are at the core of who we are as a school. The year’s Rivers Stands Up programming, which centers the student voice, includes student-led workshops, guest speakers, professional development for faculty and staff, and opportunities for parents to engage.
  • 2021-2022 Theme: Gender—Beyond the Binary

    This year, our focus is on increasing gender literacy across the institution while also building more gender-inclusive practices and policies. This community experience includes student programming on the language and history of gender, along with a featured keynote speaker and student-led workshops.
  • 2020-2021 Theme: Finding Your Voice Around Race

    During the 2020-21 school year, we engaged in community-wide discussions about race. These sessions, which took place in racial affinity, were designed to raise our collective consciousness about how race continues to shape our society in ways that produce unequal outcomes for BIPOC communities.  At the conclusion of this programming, a majority of Rivers students reported feeling more confident in their understanding of racism and more able to interrupt racial bias incidents. 

    Going forward, we remain committed to applying an antiracist lens to our programs and processes, educating our community about all forms of racism, creating space for our students to speak out, and engaging in ongoing conversations about race. As we strive to become a more antiracist institution, we firmly believe that doing so enables us to better tackle all forms of prejudice, discrimination, and bigotry.

Spotlight on Student Voice

At Rivers, our students are socially engaged and active. They regularly organize to speak out about issues of injustice—both at Rivers and in the world at large. T Sallie '21 created this video in observance of Transgender Remembrance Day.

Listen to last year's student affinity leaders talk about the purpose and importance of affinity within our community. Since this video was made, students have also organized to convene an LGBTQIA+ affinity space and a Jewish affinity space. 

DEI in the Classroom

Our DEI programming is designed to build upon and enhance what’s already happening in the classroom. In the 21st century, we know learning is most effective when students are outside of their comfort zones, when some level of emotion is involved, and when the subject matter is relevant to their lives.

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  • Click here to review some specific examples of how DEI intersects with our curriculum.

    • History: In 10th U.S. History, students wrestle with the concept of freedom and how it has evolved over time. In the process, students examine diverse perspectives, marginalized voices, and aspects of American history that are oftentimes ignored in order to establish a fuller, more comprehensive foundation from which to understand, interpret, and analyze our nation’s history. 
    • Visual Arts: In Art as a Tool for Social Change, students explore the many ways in which art has the power to build community, start conversations on difficult topics, and propel social movements forward.  Students have the opportunity to create artworks that address issues they feel passionate about and to explore the many ways art-making intersects with history, civics, and identity.
    • English: In 11th grade English, students consider how power has shaped the stories we tell as a nation, grappling with questions about representation, power, and voice when it comes to the construction of the American canon.
    • Science: In Carbon Impact Science, a senior elective, students explore themes of environmental justice and equity while investigating components of business management—from considerations in sourcing electricity to environmental justice impacts of financial investments. 
    • Math: In precalculus, students analyze college tuition price increases over time using exponential functions, exploring how student debt payments can impact one's ability to borrow money to purchase a home and save for retirement. Throughout these projects, students collect data about who carries the most student loan debt in the US as well as the factors that contribute to that statistic. 
    • Humanities: In an effort to become more responsive to a rapidly changing world, 8th grade humanities teachers have put maker-centered thinking in an expected place—at the core of the humanities curriculum centered on systems of justice. 
    • Language: In Honors Ancient Greek, students look in depth at ancient mythology, art, and literature, and discuss how other cultures have touched all aspects of Ancient Greek life including food, art, textiles, and even mathematics. Students then follow that thread into the modern world to look at how different cultures have influenced their own lives, and the lives of people around the globe. 

Student-led DEI Spaces

Our student DEI leaders are agents of change within our community. At Rivers, our students are encouraged to speak their truth, raise questions about current policies and practices, and organize for change.

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  • Click here to read about some of our student groups.

    • BRIDGE (Building Real Intercultural Dialogue to Generate Engagement): In both divisions, BRIDGE is a student club dedicated to issues of social justice. These groups meet regularly to raise awareness in the community and to take action for social change. 
    • Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA): In the upper school, the GSA meets regularly to discuss LGBTQIA+ issues, with a focus on critical awareness, current events, and allyship.
    • Affinity Spaces: As spaces specifically designed to support students with marginalized identities at Rivers, these groups serve as places for healing, affirmation, and connection. Driven by student interest, we currently offer affinity spaces for students who identify as Black, Asian or Pacific Islander, multiracial, Latinx/Hispanic, Jewish, and LGBTQ+.
    • White Allies (WALLIES): In the upper school, the student-led white allies group is a place for self-reflection, education, allyship, accountability, and support.

Using the Cultural Calendar

At Rivers, we use the cultural calendar to build critical awareness and to honor the many cultures that exist within our community.  Members of our Latinx and Hispanic community produced this video in recognition of Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month.

Cultural Calendar Spotlight

APPI Heritage Month
Enjoy this slideshow about Pan Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, which is celebrated every May.