Kent Place School is committed to its mission to educate its students for respectful and responsible participation in a global community. Kent Place School strives to promote justice and equity to create a school and working environment that is affirming and inclusive, where each member feels safe and valued. Kent Place School respects and honors diversity, which includes (but is not limited to) age, ethnicity, family structure, gender identity, national origin, physical ability, race, religion, sexual orientation and socioeconomic background.
Statement of Intent
Kent Place School recognizes that educational excellence and diversity are linked; we embrace diversity and recognize the enrichment it brings to the school community.
Kent Place School supports the development of a school community that is culturally competent, socially responsible and appreciative of global perspectives.
Kent Place School actively rejects all forms of discrimination, intolerance and bias.
Kent Place School makes diversity and equity an integral and valued part of the school's culture, curriculum and programs.
All members of the Kent Place School community will commit to and support the school's Diversity Plan.
Kent Place infuses opportunities for inclusive and equitable conversations for our whole community.
Community Conversation Norms
At Kent Place, we recognize that creating spaces for authentic conversation where diverse perspectives are represented and the air is shared within the classroom and beyond requires that all individuals feel safe and validated. We have incorporated Community Conversation Norms into our community to help us engage in respectful dialogues that create learning and growth.
In addition to a mandatory day-long training for all new faculty and staff during orientation week and ongoing professional development for specific divisional and departments throughout the year, faculty and staff can also attend Kent Place's SEED Seminars.
The Director of Diversity hosts monthly, three-hour SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) Seminars for faculty and staff to create multiculturally equitable and globally informed education. This group includes members from all divisions and departments who are dedicated to ongoing professional development in multicultural education, equity, and social justice.
Kent Place School faculty, staff, and administrators have participated in professional and personal development in diversity, equity, and inclusion:
Intergroup Dialogue Training
NAIS People of Color Conference and Student Diversity Leadership Conference
National SEED Project (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity)
National Diversity Practitioners Institute
Diversity Directions Independent School Seminar
Widening the Lens - The Far Brook School Diversity Conference
MCRC@ADVIS Cultural Competency Institute
MCRC@ADVIS Critical Conversations featuring Dr. Robin DiAngelo
Teaching White White Workshops presented by East Ed Consultants
The Race Institute
Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
National Conference on Race and Ethnicity (NCORE)
Teaching About Race and Racism in the Classroom: Racial Literacy Overview
Lion’s Story - Racial Literacy Institute featuring Dr. Howard Stevenson
The Wells Collective workshops
Facing History and Ourselves workshops
Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania (CHOP) Gender and Sexuality Development Program
The goal of the Diversity & Equity Parent Group is to provide a space for our families to dialogue, learn about, and explore issues of identity, diversity, and equity. Our subcommittees include affinity groups, MLK Day of Service planning, and more. The group, which is open to all parents and caregivers, strives to support families and students in developing respect, deepening understanding of identity, and co-constructing an increasingly inclusive and equitable school community.
LatinX Celebration - in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month
Taste of India/Diwali Celebration
Lunar New Year Celebration
Community-wide Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Black History Month Celebration
Asian Pacific Heritage Month Celebration
Jewish Cultural Celebration
Total Students of Color: 51% Primary School SoC: 53% Middle School SoC: 55% Upper School SoC: 48%
Middle Eastern: 1%
Native American: <1%
Jehovah's Witness: 0.7%
Students live in about 70 different cities and towns and come from nine counties. 71 percent of our community comes from our top 12 towns (Summit, Short Hills, Chatham, Westfield, Madison, West Orange, Maplewood, Montclair, Berkeley Heights, Morristown, South Orange, and Livingston).
Faculty of Color: 23%
Staff of Color: 36%
Total Faculty & Staff of color: 28%
Meet the Team
List of 5 members.
Walidah E Justice
Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging
Walidah Justice is a graduate of Villanova University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in communication. She comes to Kent Place in 2018 from Episcopal Academy in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, where she served four years at the director of diversity and inclusion and two years as the associate director of admission and multicultural outreach. Before her time at Episcopal Academy, Ms. Justice worked for nine years at Villanova in the Office of Undergraduate Admission, Center for Multicultural Affairs and Student Development. Additionally, she has worked at Temple University and the University of Delaware before entering the independent school world.
Assistant Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion / MS DEI Liaison
Tyhisha K. Henry is a graduate of Rutgers University, where she earned her bachelor's degree in psychology, and holds a master's in counseling and psychological studies from Seton Hall University. She also received New Jersey certifications as a school counselor, director of school counseling services, supervisor, and principal. Tyhisha has worked for more than 15 years with youth and families in both education and the nonprofit mental health sector and from Pre-K–12 and college-aged students. She has been a Head Start social worker, a case manager, a school counselor, a school operations manager, and a supervisor of counseling. Tyhisha devotes additional time to her church, the Girl Scouts, and professional and social organizations.
Dora Flores Gragg is a native of Monterrey, Mexico, and earned her bachelor’s degree from Universidad Regiomontana. She has taught languages to a range of students, from elementary school to the university level, in Mexico and in the United States. Sra. Gragg joined the Kent Place faculty, in 1998, as a Primary School Spanish teacher. She was instrumental in establishing the partnership between Kent Place and Integración Juvenil in the Dominican Republic. She coordinates the Kaleidoscopes mentorship group in the Primary School and is a member of the Diversity Equity team. She served on the Board of Trustees from Fall 2014–Spring 2016.
Department Chair Health, Wellness & Physical Ed / Coach / US DEI Liaison
Michelle Stevenson earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Boston College, a master’s in exercise science from Northeastern University and post-master’s certifications in management and behavioral economics from New York University and the University of Toronto. Mrs. Stevenson was the program director at the Harvard Business School’s SHAD Hall and The Sports Center at Chelsea Piers, New York City. She joined Kent Place in 2008 as Chair of the Physical Education Department, and started the morning PE program, which offers classes in Zumba fitness, metabolic training, and restorative exercise. Ms. Stevenson is a HeartMath Institute Certified Mentor/Coach, Master level Usui Shiki Ryoho Method of Natural Healing, and a Chopra–Certified Perfect Health: Ayurvedic Lifestyle Instructor.
Administrative Assistant, Business Office / Staff DEI Liaison
Iveliz Morales is the Business Office Administrative Assistant. Ms. Morales has a strong administrative background and previously worked as a guidance secretary at Terrill Middle School and as an administrative assistant/board recording secretary at Barack Obama Green Charter School. Ms. Morales attended Union County College, where she studied business administration.
That's our mantra in robotics. Try crazy things, be free with your ideas, and see what happens. If you're going to build the future, you'll need to be a pioneer. –Emma, seventh grade
LEAN INTO DIFFICULTY.
When it comes to academics, it pays to challenge yourself. I'm in the Bioethics Symposium, presenting research on the ethics of genetically-enhanced intelligence. At times it's daunting—research, deadlines, time management—but it's also a whole new way of thinking. Very independent and "you-driven." –Isabella, sophomore
OWN YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE
It's one of the "conversation norms" we have at Kent Place, and it's always resonated with me. Everyone has a different and equally valid perspective to bring to the table—so put yourself out there. –Mary, senior
DON’T THINK YOU’RE GOING TO GET A LABEL.
There are no jocks here at Kent Place, no science geeks, no theater nerds. Last month a varsity athlete went to sing at the Vatican. Everyone here has some unique quality — and they’re amazing at what they do. –Claire, senior
MATH COMES FROM YOU
When you've computed something for yourself, the story is different. The girls here feel like the math is coming from them, rather than from a textbook. You won't hear a Kent Place girl ask, "What answer are they looking for?" The girls are looking for their own answers, and they're on their own path. –Dr. Ralph Pantozzi, Math Teacher
GET READY FOR RIGOROUS WORK.
And multiple extracurricular activities. Busy days, and a few late nights. But through it all, don’t lose your sense of fun. –Alessandra, junior
KPS alumnae are amazing. I met one alumna after a math and science panel who works in retail architecture. That made me think about a cool way to combine two of my interests — math and fashion. –Amber, junior
YOUR TIME AT KPS IS GOING TO OPEN UP OPTIONS YOU HADN'T EVEN THOUGHT ABOUT.
And when it's time to choose, you're going to know yourself so well, you'll pick the college that's the best fit for you—academically, socially, personally. So don't get tunnel vision. This is your process. Just know that you'll be ready! –Jennifer Simpson, Director of College Advising
SOLVING PROBLEMS IS A JOURNEY, ENJOY THE RIDE!
In the Middle School we do a Science Expo—either two or four people work on a science project for a couple of months and then present it to the entire class. We go into some in-depth projects and it’s incredible what we learn along the way, and how willing our teachers are to help us through the tough parts. –Toni Ann, eighth grade
SPEAK YOUR MIND.
Every girl here learns from an early age how to speak up and speak to adults. You never feel silly raising your hand, and you’re given lots of opportunities to speak publicly. I’m never shy about saying what’s on my mind. –Vittoria, fourth grade
ETHICS WILL CHANGE YOUR ENTIRE OUTLOOK.
Right away, we tackled questions of "right versus right." We're learning to look at every issue from both sides, which helps with everything from homework to friendships. –Elizabeth, eighth grade