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Creating the Mosaic

EHS Announces Director of Community and Inclusion

In May, Head of School Ned Smith announced that history teacher, junior grade level dean, and head boys varsity boys basketball coach Wayne Jones joins the senior leadership as the Director of Community and Inclusion. A lifelong educator, Jones offers a breadth of experience in schools and diverse communities, having taught and coached at The Kinkaid School, Strake Jesuit College Preparatory, and for the past eight years at Episcopal High School.

What excites you about your new role as the first Director of Community and Inclusion at Episcopal High School?

EHS is a strong and diverse community that I am proud to be a part of. I look forward to getting to better know the faculty, students, parents, and alumni. We will celebrate the community and identify the challenges. I am excited to be an innovator in this effort.

How did this effort get started?

The effort started with a group of faculty who began a conversation on inclusion a few years ago. Participating in that effort, I heard about the National SEED Project. SEED is a peer-led professional program that creates conversational communities to drive change toward greater equity and diversity. An immersive and intense 10 days of workshops, the experience transformed me. I was able to examine my hidden biases and learn how to handle difficult conversations through thoughtful self-examination, story-telling, and outwardly looking at the world. When I returned to EHS, I facilitated our first SEED group conversations among faculty.

Is EHS ready for the hard conversations?

The students are ready. They live in the information age, and they are compassionate. I feel that our faculty and staff are willing to work for the betterment of all EHS students. I am excited to start conversations with our alumni and parents.EHS has always been a very diverse community—a great attribute. The School was founded on the principles of celebrating students with a variety of gifts and abilities. EHS shows healthy diversity in faculty in terms of male and female members and ethnicity. The School offers an incredible financial aid program to keep educational opportunities available to a wide swath of students in the Houston area.

What are your goals for the first year, and what will be some of the initiatives?

My top three responsibilities will be to establish relationships, honor the things we have done well, and then advocate for all, laying a foundation of openness. A few of our goals for the first year include starting a faculty book club that touches on inclusiveness. Our first book is Blind Spots: Hidden Biases of Good People. We will continue our Black History Month program, but also celebrate Hispanic Heritage and Women's Month. We hope to take a strong group to the NAIS People of Color Conference in Seattle this year. Finally, we are going to move the annual Culture Fest to the spring semester and amp it up.

What do you want to see five years down the road?

Five years down the road, I want to be the guy who has helped change the narrative and conversations at EHS. I'd like everyone to feel comfortable to speak up, speak out, and respect others' opinions throughout all our constituencies.

What can we learn from fellow independent schools with successful programs in community and inclusion?

As a coach, I have always looked at other schools and observed how they create strong teams and win championships. In the community and inclusion arena, there are schools in Washington, D.C., such as St. Stephen's & St. Agnes, who have fantastic programs. In Texas, I think St. Stephen's in Austin and Greenhill in Dallas have set the bar high. All these veteran program directors have been helpful to me in answering questions and sharing resources or ideas that succeeded at their schools.Unlike coaching a basketball team, a community and inclusion program is not about winning—this is about understanding. It's an ongoing process. I want to take people from different backgrounds and perspectives together and create a school that is purposeful and authentic in the ways that we respect all individuals on campus.

—Claire C.Fletcher