Diversity at Sunbridge
Catch our Teachers Conference, Calling It Like It Is: Uncovering and Dismantling Racism in the Waldorf Movement, on January 29-30.
In June 2018, Linda Williams, PhD, Sunbridge alumna and longtime class teacher at the Detroit Waldorf School, gave a keynote presentation at the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America’s annual conference on the topic “Social Justice: Exploring Place, Race, Class, and Gender in Waldorf Education.”
In a follow-up article on that theme for the Fall/Winter 2018 issue of Renewal, Dr. Williams wrote:
It is important that Waldorf teacher education programs continue to actively promote teaching for inclusivity, diversity, and social justice in their programs and practices. These themes should be explicit and central, both in ongoing programs and in specific workshops.
I also recommend that there be a concentrated, national effort to increase the number of teachers and administrators of color in our Waldorf schools. This step alone—to actively recruit and support teachers of color to become Waldorf teachers and administrators—would significantly increase the diversity of voices at the table.
These messages tied neatly into Sunbridge’s own ongoing and increasingly urgent conversations about what we ourselves could do to help remedy the lack of diversity within Waldorf school communities while also help all our students develop a deeper understanding of racial awareness and inclusivity.
To this end, in 2018, the Sunbridge faculty, board, and administration created the Sunbridge Institute Diversity Fund.
Diversity Fund Mission Statement
At Sunbridge Institute we are committed to the conviction that diverse perspectives and voices are integral components of a vigorous educational community.
The Sunbridge Institute Diversity Fund has been established for the purpose of expanding and promoting racial awareness and representation in our teacher education programs and increasing the number of demographically diverse Waldorf teacher education graduates fully prepared to take on educational and leadership roles in Waldorf classrooms and schools.
The Diversity Fund provides need-based scholarship grants for people of color who are eager to enroll in Sunbridge’s Waldorf teacher education programs and prepare for careers in Waldorf Education. The Fund also finances projects and programs that promote awareness of racial differences and viewpoints for all within our classroom settings.
In creating this fund it is our intention to deepen and broaden the representation of diverse voices and perspectives that enrich the quality of a Sunbridge education, and to prepare more Waldorf educators and leaders who reflect the broad demographic diversity of our world.
Diversity Fund Activities
Through an application process, the Diversity Fund provides need-based scholarship awards to people of color enrolled in Sunbridge’s Early Childhood and Elementary Teacher Education programs. Diversity Fund resources also help support diversity-based programming within our classroom settings.
Susan Howard, MA, MEd, director emerita of Sunbridge’s Early Childhood Teacher Education program, coordinator of the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America, and a member of the Coordinating Group of the International Association for Steiner/Waldorf Early Childhood Education oversees the Diversity Fund along with co-chair Dr. Linda Williams, ’87. Joining Susan and Linda on the Diversity Fund Committee are Jessica Heffernan Ziegler, Sunbridge’s executive director; Keelah Helwig ’09, kindergarten teacher and early childhood chair at The Waldorf School of Garden City; and Vicki Larson, director of communications and marketing at Green Meadow Waldorf School.
Candidates for a Sunbridge Diversity Fund Scholarship must:
• Identify as a person of color
• Be accepted into a Sunbridge Early Childhood or Elementary Teacher Education diploma program (full or completion track) as either a new student or an already-enrolled returning student
• Be the recipient of a Sunbridge financial aid award for the upcoming academic year
• Be currently working in, or intending to work in, an AWSNA or WECAN affiliated school.
Online applications for the 2021-22 academic year will be available here on February 1, 2021.
The regular deadline for Diversity Fund Scholarship applications is May 1, but the earlier you submit your application the more funds there will still be available. The first round of awards is made in mid-March. Additional awards are made on a rolling basis, based on availability of funds.
Contributing to the Fund
If you share our interest in this important work, we ask you to join us in supporting the Sunbridge Institute Diversity Fund. While sustaining donors making recurring monthly or quarterly contributions are especially appreciated, we welcome one-time-only gifts of any amount throughout the year.
How to Give
Through the mail
Send your check (made payable to Sunbridge Institute) to:
285 Hungry Hollow Road
Chestnut Ridge, NY 10977
When human beings meet together seeking the spirit with unity of purpose then they will also find their way to each other.
~ Rudolf Steiner
If you have any questions about the Sunbridge Diversity Fund, please contact:
Jessica Heffernan Ziegler, Executive Director