Greens Farms Academy is a PreK-12, coed school in Westport, CT

Equity and Inclusion

A message from Shanelle Henry, Director of Equity and Inclusion 
Private school students in class.

I am so excited to be a member of this community! I feel privileged to work in a PreK–12 educational environment where our students are urged to explore their place in — and potential impact on — the world. Our mission calls upon us to prepare students for a life of purpose. This can (and should) be defined in many different ways, and that compels us to continue to do no less than our very best to maintain our commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive community that values the identities, perspectives, and experiences of all its members. Our motto, “Each For All,” demands nothing less.

One of the most critical elements of equity work in schools is strong and courageous leadership. The charge of shepherding a school’s equity and inclusion efforts is both complex and rewarding. It is my aim to ensure that all constituencies on campus, from our youngest learners to our most tenured faculty and staff, have an opportunity to be part of the voice and structure of what makes GFA unique. GFA is home to thousands of stories, and those stories — and the voices that tell them — make us strong.

We are writing the next chapter of what it means to be Greens Farms Academy.

Each for All.

Shanelle Henry,
Director of Equity and Inclusion

Equity and Inclusion at GFA

Recommended Reading

the person you mean to be book cover

Director of Equity and Inclusion Shanelle Henry invited the GFA community to join her in reading The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias, an inspiring book by Dr. Dolly Chugh. Chugh is a Harvard-educated, award-winning social psychologist at the New York University Stern School of Business, and also the parent of children who attend independent schools in NYC. While she is an expert in the unconscious biases and unethical behavior of “ordinary, good people,” she is also, admittedly, trying just as hard as everyone else to be the person she means to be.

Through the compelling stories she shares in the book, and her research findings in unconscious bias, as well as work across psychology, sociology, economics, political science, and other disciplines, Chugh offers us practical tools to respectfully and effectively talk politics with family, to be a better colleague (and teacher) to people who don’t look like you, and to avoid being a well-intentioned barrier to equality.

Throughout this school year, Henry will offer opportunities to engage in discussions about this book.

Equity & Inclusion Team

At Greens Farms Academy, we embrace, honor and affirm all members of our school community across race, age, gender identity and expression, ethnicity, family composition, ability/disability, learning styles, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, and other characteristics that construct our unique identities. We seek to ensure that all aspects of school life — including curriculum, admission, retention, hiring practices, and support for students, families, and employees — reflect our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Each for All

GFA’s commitment to building and nurturing an inclusive community is core to our mission. We believe:

  • a diverse faculty, staff, and student body benefits and enriches all members of our community and is critical to meeting our educational aim of preparing students for their futures;
  • our curriculum and co-curricular program must teach our students global competency and to espouse the habits, skills, and attitudes necessary to live and thrive in a multicultural and interconnected world;
  • our community must be a place where all voices are heard, respected, and valued.

Listen to GFA Director of Equity and Inclusion Shanelle Henry discussing the Day After Election Guide on the podcast Third Space with Jen Cort: 

Listen here

November 4, 2021: VIRTUAL EVENT


Summer 2021: VIRTUAL EVENT




Coyle Scholar: Julie Lythcott-Haims

In Our Own Words

Ronaldo John Friday Speaker

By Ronaldo John
Faculty, World Languages

"I’ve had to break many barriers in an effort to connect and to make the best experiences for myself. Today I stand before you all ... hoping that I will inspire you all to embark upon this journey with me, to remove yourself from your comfort zone, to embrace the feeling of discomfort and use it as a steppingstone to engage in thoughtful conversations with your classmates, friends, and colleagues, black and white alike.”

Read More about A Single Step
Julie Lythcott-Haims, Ben Gott

By Ben Gott
MS English, Equity and Inclusion Coordinator

Traditionally, the third week in January has provided an opportunity for GFA students, faculty, and staff to come together as a community to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. However, the reality of COVID-19 meant that such large gatherings would be impossible this year—so the GFA Equity & Inclusion team decided to completely reinvent and reimagine our program for 2021.

Read More about Lighting the Path Forward
Martins Big Words

Kindergarten teacher Katie Mack and third-grade teacher Jennifer Ferreira
helped continue the conversation about identity in their classes, helping students better understand the Martin Luther King Day holiday, defining words including equal, fair, equity, race, racism, and advocate

Read More about Celebrating Our Differences
Live Girl event

By Katherine Stidolph '21

LiveGirl is a Connecticut-based nonprofit organization that builds confident leaders who embrace diversity. Their mission is to empower and equip the next generation of brave, inclusive leaders with the skills, community, and connections so that ALL girls may thrive and make a positive impact on the world. This conversation series has been thoughtfully designed to engage students and their parents in racial justice advocacy. 

Read More about Inviting Others to the Conversation
Ben Gott

By Ben Gott
MS English, Equity and Inclusion Coordinator

My friend and colleague in the Middle School, Kathleen Nicholson, often talks about the fact that she refers to herself as a “middle school teacher,” not a “science teacher.” Though we all consider our subject matter to be an important part of the work we do each day, Middle School teachers often find ourselves engaging with students’ joys, concerns, problems, and successes as much as we find ourselves teaching them math, science, or English. 

Read More about Welcoming Challenging Conversations

By Shanelle Henry
Director of Equity and Inclusion

Eventually, the noise surrounding the heinous killings of George Floyd and others will subside; we will have a medical response to COVID-19; the unrest will cease, and life will resume back to normal. However, I don’t want to return to normal.

Read More about 'I Can't Breathe'
EI Blog

By Ben Gott
MS English, Equity & Inclusion Coordinator

Our commitment to equity and inclusion at GFA is not just about understanding what our students are going through today and what they will go through tomorrow. It must also involve an honest, complete reckoning of the ways in which our institution, and so many institutions like ours, worked against equity and inclusion in the past.

Read More about ‘Start from a Place of Love’
Acknowledge the Reality, Create Change

By Michael Pina
Director of College Guidance

“When they go low, we go high…”

When Michelle Obama unleashed these words during a 2016 election speech, it was a novel phrase that either endured or rang hollow, depending on which candidate or party people supported. It wasn’t new terminology, but rather a reminder of how my parents told me how to deal with racism from a young age.

Read More about Acknowledge the Reality, Create Change
We Are GFA

By Bob Whelan
Head of School

Over the last month, we have witnessed yet again how the nation’s long legacy of racism continues to damage and destroy the lives of Black and Brown people. We also have witnessed a vital and impassioned national conversation about inequality, racism, and the notable absence of a just and fair society for all. 

Read More about An Update from the Head of School

By Shanelle Henry
Director of Equity and Inclusion

On June 19, in honor and recognition of the history of Juneteenth, I extended an invitation to Black alumni to gather in affinity and amplify their voices and concerns as Black alumni of GFA. The conversation was raw, painful, and revealed deep and long-held wounds. Paraphrasing Dr. King’s question (above), I asked the group: “What is it that GFA has failed to hear?”

Read More about Alumni Perspectives: Acknowledge the Inequities
We Are GFA

This week Director of Equity and Inclusion Shanelle Henry, and the Equity Inclusion Coordinators Ben Gott, Melanie Haas, and Michaela Pembroke created an online space for the community to come together for “Reflection and Unity.”

Read More about Reflection and Unity