Beacon Day Schools is a place that strives to live its values in all that we do. This includes our value of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). At BDS we not only want everyone in our community to feel included we want them to feel that they belong.
Belonging is a tricky feeling. There’s no policy, process or procedure that can make someone feel like they belong. How many times have you walked into a place and felt warmly welcomed but didn’t quite feel you belong there? At BDS we strive to create a sense of belonging. A place where the entire BDS community feels that Beacon is their school. When you have a sense of ownership about a place you feel like you belong there and that this is a place you won’t be judged for who you are.
For parents and guardians, we strive to create a sense of belonging from the moment they enter the school. There’s no such thing as a standard school tour or orientation. When families come to BDS we let them know that I founded this school because I have a child with autism. That I am no different than they are. That we understand the challenges and joys that come with raising a child with ASD and related disorders. Most importantly we give them the time and space to tell their stories. By listening to their experiences, we get to know them and learn about their child. We believe that when families feel heard and understood they start to feel that Beacon is a place where they belong.
We create belonging for students by making BDS a place that is physically and emotionally safe for them. Students at BDS are never judged for who they are, what they wear, or how they behave and communicate. If a student shows up in school in their pajamas because they had a tough morning getting dressed that day, that’s okay. What’s important is that the student is at school ready to learn and grow.
For our faculty and staff, we start to create belonging by who we recruit and hire. We look for people who share our calling to work with students with special needs. When a new employee starts, we strive to make them feel welcomed. This can be a challenge in an environment where the needs of students are always recognized as being paramount to our own. This means we need to be more deliberate in reaching out to make connections with new team members. We also need to remind ourselves that we can be our own worst critic. That it is important to give ourselves and our peers grace and kindness. In addition, as part of our value of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion we provide training to educate employees on differences and promote awareness of the importance of inclusion. We believe that when employees feel accepted for who they are as individuals and can build strong, trusting relationships with their manager and peers they begin to feel they belong at BDS.
Ultimately, I believe that by living our Beacon Day School values of excellence, respect, collaboration, integrity, diversity, equity, and inclusion we all create a school where all members of the community feel that they belong.
Mary J. Lang, PhD, ABPN, BCBA-D
CEO & Founder