Historically, the picture of Waldorf education in the United States has been that of classrooms overwhelmingly populated by white children taught by white educators.
At Sunbridge Institute, we are trying to change that picture.
In seeking to bring more teachers of color to Waldorf education, our goal is to:
- Create Waldorf communities that reflect the diversity of our nation (and our continent)
- Better serve students and families typically underrepresented and marginalized in the North American Waldorf school movement
- Mitigate the historical marginalization and underrepresentation of BIPOC individuals in faculty and school leadership
- Broaden the classroom experience of all children in North American Waldorf schools
In June 2018, Linda Williams, ’87, PhD, gave a keynote presentation at AWSNA’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 magazine, 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 helping 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.
At Sunbridge Institute, we recognize 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 increasing the representation of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in Sunbridge teacher education programs. Our intention is to create a more diverse pool of Waldorf teacher education graduates fully prepared to take on educational and leadership roles in Waldorf classrooms and schools.
The Diversity Fund provides scholarship grants specifically for BIPOC who wish to enroll—or complete their enrollment—in Sunbridge’s Early Childhood, Elementary, or High School Teacher Education programs and prepare for careers in Waldorf education within North America.
The Fund also supports projects and programs at Sunbridge that tackle the urgent task of uncovering racism in the Waldorf movement and identifying steps we must take to dismantle it. This work helps us better understand how we become who we are in a racialized society and how that impacts our engagement with the children in our care.
The Diversity Fund Committee
Co-Chair: Dr. Linda Williams ’87 Grades coordinator and faculty chair, Detroit Waldorf School; board trustee, AWSNA and Sunbridge Institute
Co-Chair: Susan Howard, MA, MEd Co-director, WECAN; Council and Coordinating Group member, IASWECE; director emerita, Sunbridge Early Childhood Teacher Education
Meggan Gill Director of education and organizational culture, and program faculty, Sunbridge Institute
Keelah Helwig ’09 Kindergarten teacher and early childhood chair, The Waldorf School of Garden City; board trustee, AWSNA, WECAN, and Sunbridge Institute
Vicki Larson DEI consultant and co-founder, Alma Partners
Jessica Heffernan Ziegler Executive director and program faculty, Sunbridge Institute; board trustee, AWSNA
Diversity Fund Committee Activities
Through an application process, the Diversity Fund Committee provides scholarship awards to BIPOC enrolled in Sunbridge’s Early Childhood, Elementary, and High School Teacher Education programs. Diversity Fund resources also help support diversity-based programs and programming.
Candidates for a Sunbridge Diversity Fund Scholarship must:
• Identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, or a person of color)
• Be accepted into a Sunbridge Early Childhood, Elementary, or High School Teacher Education diploma program (full or completion track) as either a new student or an already-enrolled returning student
• Be currently working in, or intend to work in, an AWSNA- or WECAN- affiliated school.
Complete an online application.
The deadline for Diversity Fund Scholarship applications is June 1. The first round of awards is made in mid-March; additional awards are made on a rolling basis, based on availability of funds. The earlier you submit your application, the better.
Not sure whether you qualify for this scholarship? Contact us! We would love to talk to you.
If you share our interest in this important work, we ask you to join us in supporting the Sunbridge Institute Diversity Fund. While recurring monthly or quarterly contributions are especially appreciated, we also welcome one-time 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
If you have any questions about Sunbridge’s DEI efforts, please contact Meggan Gill, director of education and organizational culture, at [email protected] / 845-425-0055 x12
If you have any questions about the Sunbridge Diversity Fund, please contact Jessica Heffernan Ziegler, executive director, at [email protected] / 845-425-0055 x23
DEI Statement: At Sunbridge Institute we are committed to serving and being a diverse, inclusive community. We are striving collectively to ensure the continued growth and development of our curriculum and program offerings to reflect these values. As we deepen our own relationship to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, we ask for your honest feedback and perspective, understanding that we wish to widen our lens and that this work is, and will always be, in process.
When human beings meet together seeking the spirit with unity of purpose then they will also find their way to each other.
~ Rudolf Steiner