Diversity and Multiculturalism

Diversity Statement

Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School is committed through the Goals and Criteria of Sacred Heart Schools to create, support, nurture, and celebrate a diverse community, thus carrying on the timeless Sacred Heart commitment to inclusion and mutual respect.

At Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School, we are committed to embrace diversity with all its textures and potential. The School seeks to provide an environment for learning and growth, whereby students welcome, embrace, and celebrate differences, including learning styles, physical ability, race, age, culture, ethnicity, religion, and socioeconomic class and wherein they value and become transformed by these differences, in an increasingly interconnected global community.

To this end, the School will actively develop and implement a Diversity Plan approved by the Board of Trustees, develop and implement support programs, recruit faculty, staff and students of diverse backgrounds and experiences, with a goal of assuring on-going education of the entire School family to the values of inclusion as one of the essential hallmarks of a Sacred Heart Education.

Multiculturalism on Campus

As a member of the International Network of Sacred Heart Schools, Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School is called to educate all regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, or socioeconomic background.

Multiculturalism is a concept deeply rooted in the traditions of the Society of Sacred Heart. We believe that a multicultural and multiracial population is more likely to build a community committed to dismantling the barriers often associated with the issues of race, economics, and geography.

Respect for multiculturalism is reflected not only in our School community, but also in our institutional structure, culture, and environment. We are committed to creating a more diverse school community that will reflect modern society, enrich the education of our students, and fulfill the Sacred Heart mission of “building community.”

The Diversity Committee offers five goals and tactics for the School’s multicultural initiatives:

  • Goal One: Raise awareness and appreciate of diversity within the Sacred Heart Community.
  • Goal Two: Assess and broaden the multicultural focus of curriculum in terms of perspective and content.
  • Goal Three: Attract and retain faculty, staff, and administration of diverse backgrounds.
  • Goal Four: Attract and retain students of diverse backgrounds.
  • Goal Five: Counsel the faculty, staff, students, parents, and administration on how to interact effectively with individuals of diverse backgrounds.

The above statements are part of a living document that is open to updates.

Why is this important to us?

Christian belief, Catholic Church teaching, and the charism of the Sacred Heart of Jesus call us to foster diversity at Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School.  The Sacred Heart Goals and Criteria offer a clear vision for diversity:

Goal 1 | Schools of the Sacred Heart commit themselves to educate to a personal and active faith in God.

o    Criterion 2: The school seeks to form its students in the attitudes of the heart of Jesus expressed in respect, compassion, forgiveness and generosity.

o    Criterion 3: The entire school program explores one's relationship to God, to self, to others, and to all creation.

o    Criterion 5: The entire school program affirms that there is meaning and value in life and fosters a sense of hope in the individual and in the school community.

o    Criterion 6: The school fosters inter-religious acceptance and dialogue by educating to an understanding of and deep respect for the religions of the world.

Goal 2 | Schools of the Sacred Heart commit themselves to educate to a deep respect for intellectual values.

o    Criterion 4: The faculty utilizes a variety of teaching and learning strategies that recognizes the individual needs of the students.

Goal 3 | Schools of the Sacred Heart commit themselves to educate to a social awareness which impels to action.

o    Criterion 1: The school educates to a critical consciousness that leads its total community to analyze and reflect on the values of society and to act for justice.

o    Criterion 4: In our multicultural world, the school prepares and inspires students to be active, informed, and responsible citizens locally, nationally, and globally.

Goal 4 | Schools of the Sacred Heart commit themselves to educate to the building of community as a Christian value.

o    Criterion 2: The school promotes a safe and welcoming environment in which each person is valued, cared for and respected.

o    Criterion 5: The school makes a deliberate effort to recruit students and employ faculty and staff of diverse races, ethnicities and backgrounds.

o    Criterion 6: The financial aid program effectively supports socioeconomic diversity.

Goal 5 | Schools of the Sacred Heart commit themselves to educate to personal growth in an atmosphere of wise freedom.

o    Criterion 1: All members of the school community show respect, acceptance and concern for themselves and for others.

o    Criterion 2: School policies and practices promote self-discipline, responsible decision-making, and accountability.

o    Criterion 5: The school provides opportunities for all members of the community to share their knowledge and gifts with others.

What have we accomplished to date?

Faculty and Staff

Faculty and staff participated in the following professional development opportunities:


  • Revising the new Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

  • Diversity in Admissions Professional Development Workshop hosted by De Smet High School

  • Professional Development- Departmental and division meetings discussing how to effectively teach Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in our curriculum

  • Harmony Moderators- Monthly meetings of diversity practitioners in the St. Louis area

  • Monthly Meetings of the Faculty Diversity Committee


  • Monthly Diversity Committee Meeting
  • Teacher and Principal training at ISACS Division Heads meeting, Chicago, IL
  • Racial Reconciliation Retreat run by the Network of Sacred Heart Schools, New Orleans, LA
  • Archdiocesan Bias Training- facilitated by NCCJ, attended by 3 Diversity Leadership members, St. Louis, MO
  • Harmony Moderators- Monthly meetings of diversity practitioners at St. Louis Catholic Schools
  • Tuesday Morning PD sessions for all faculty:
    • Self-Reflection: How do I integrate diversity in my curriculum?
    • Guest Speaker: How to have difficult conversations.
    • Curriculum examinations among departments
    • What are Microaggressions?
    • Student Listening Panel- What is your experience at Villa Duchesne?
    • Practicing Difficult Conversations, How do we make a more inclusive school?


  • School-wide retreat led by Mrs. Danielle Harrison from Saint Louis University High School, which also included a panel of students who shared their experiences at Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School
  • Teacher training at ISACS Diversity Summit, Chicago, IL
  • Educators for Justice Conference, St. Louis, MO
  • Building Inclusive Communities Workshop (NCCJ), St. Louis, MO
  • The Workshop on Culturally Responsive Teaching, St. Louis, MO

Villa Duchesne Students


  • Diversity Club- meetings each Friday
  • MICDS Diversity Workshop
  • Saint Louis University High School Harmony Prayer Service (Feb 2019)
  • Guest Speaker- Ava Rollins, Black History (Feb 2019)
  • Days of Dialogue: Students offered in-house diversity workshops facilitated by Faculty Diversity Committee.  Each student attended two workshops, choosing to learn about and discuss the following topics:  
    • Red Lining-A historical look at the discriminatory practices of housing and race in the United States and its implications for today.
    • Implicit Bias-How can we dismantle unconscious stereotypes the impact the way we view and treat others?
    • Saying the N Word-The historical origins of this word and the complications of its use
    • Me Too-A history of sexual harassment in the workplace and the origins of the #metoo movement.
    • What’s happening at the border?-Catholic Teaching on Immigration and the United States, featuring a guest speaker, a lawyer from the Catholic Immigration Law Project.
    • Cultural Appropriation and Halloween-To raise awareness about the difference between cultural appropriation and appreciation and how students can use that knowledge to choose Halloween costumes appropriately.
  • Sessions offered to each grade level on “Saintes Savantes” special schedule days.
    • StoryCorps Workshop on Active Listening, increasing understanding and empathy through sharing of stories and listening.
    • Dialogue with Muslim Women from Saint Louis University
  • 10th and 12th grade World Religions Bus Tour- Students visit and dialogue with people of different faiths in our Saint Louis Community at a Mosque, Hindu Temple, and Jewish Temple. (upcoming)
  • Student to Student program with the Jewish Community Relations Council, in 10th and 12th grade theology classes. (upcoming)


  • Archdiocesan Teach In on the Death Penalty, Sept 2017
  • Diversity Club- meetings each Friday
  • Saint Louis University High School Harmony Prayer Service
  • Black History Month-School wide celebration and education with Posters and Presentations each day
  • Guest Speaker, Annie Wagner, Recognizing Our Own Biases
  • Viewing of movie Selma, with panel discussion
  • Days of Dialogue-Small Group Conversations about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusions
  • 12th grade World Religions Bus Tour-Students visit and dialogue with people of different faiths in our Saint Louis Community at a Mosque, Hindu Temple, and Jewish Temple.
  • Student to Student program with the Jewish Community Relations Council, in 12th grade theology classes.


  • Black History Month celebration with a film festival centered around the Black American experience
  • MICDS Diversity and Leadership Conference, Nov 2016
  • Race + Culture teach-in led by the Archdiocese of St. Louis
  • Day of Dialogue led by the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ) and Diversity Action Partnership (DAP)
  • SLUH Harmony Prayer Service 

Oak Hill Students


  • Black History Month celebration and education
  • Library displays that highlight topics such as the African American experience and the female American experience

  • Faculty have gone to diversity sensitive recruitment fairs to explore the possibility of having a more diverse faculty (17/18)


  • Black History Month activities planned and implemented in grades JK3-6

  • A school wide celebration of Peace Day in September.

  • Yearlong studies of another country, where they analyzed the socioeconomics, traditions, and culture of that country. Findings are displayed at a school wide International Festival at the end of March.

  • Small group assemblies to listen to speakers from the Missouri History Museum ACTivist IN-School program to learn about the history of Black Americans in St. Louis.

What is our focus moving forward?

Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School has committed itself to taking immediate and long-term steps in order to create a strong, healthy community that nurtures belonging and equity.  Our actions will be based on research and planning to assure best practices and careful execution.

  • School-wide initiatives

    • We will be ensuring that issues of belonging and equity will be sewn into the fabric of the school. This will be accomplished by advocating for a number of initiatives such as:

      • Developing a comprehensive diversity statement. (In Progress)

      • Expanding recruiting efforts to diversify student body

      • Advocating for the hiring of diverse faculty and staff. (Ongoing)

      • Advocating for funding and time to be set aside for current and future initiatives.

      • Ensuring time in the schedule for professional development, opportunities for student led initiatives, and all school days of reflection and conversation. (Completed, ongoing)

      • Studying the physical environment (e.g. art work) of the school to promote values of diversity (ongoing)

      • Reviewing the school’s public statements regarding diversity and equity so as to ensure the school is putting forth a clear message on these important issues.

  • Curriculum Review

    • For Oak Hill curriculum review:

      • After researching best practices of equity and inclusion, faculty representatives on the curriculum review, alongside with administration, will assess each grade level curriculum for:

        • Representations of diverse authors, works, experiences, and perspectives.

        • Opportunities for study and discussion of issues of equity and justice.

        • Best practices to most accurately reflect each country of global study.

        • Critical thinking and self-awareness.

        • Incorporation of the Goals and Criteria of the Sacred Heart.

      • Beginning in the 2017-2018 academic year, students in fifth and sixth grade will participate in academic blocking in efforts to expose each student to more perspectives. The blocking can include, but is not limited to: a Latin course, a Spanish course, makerspace, and global studies.

    • Villa Duchesne curriculum review: (ongoing)

      • After researching best practices of equity and inclusion, faculty representatives on the curriculum review will assess each department’s curriculum for:

        • Representations of diverse authors, works, experiences, and perspectives.

        • Opportunities for study and discussion of issues of equity and justice.

        • Critical thinking and self-awareness.

        • Incorporation of the Goals and Criteria of the Sacred Heart.

  • Parent Engagement

    • We are hoping to have an additional evening for parents to come in and speak as a group about their vision for an ideal school community

    • We are also examining parent engagement initiatives for the 2019-2020 school year, as well as into the future. These initiatives will encompass multiple aspects within the parent community, including:

      • Activities that build community within the parent body as a whole

      • Educational activities that will inform parents more about Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School’s background in Sacred Heart charism

      • Parent affinity groups

  • Student Engagement

    • All students are welcome to join the Villa Duchesne Diversity Club which meets once a week during lunch and extended:

      • Diversity Club was created to embrace the diversity of the Villa Duchesne community. Members meet once a week to discuss topics such as diversity and inclusion, as well as thinking of new ways to work toward Goal 3 of the Society of the Sacred Heart. Club members engage in conversations about difficult topics, consider ideas that might be relatable or brand new, and discover and analyze society’s problems by incorporating club members’ thoughts and ideas about the topics at hand. The club also plans events and guest speakers to enrich our community’s understanding about issues of diversity.

      • Diversity Club’s focus in 2018-2019 is centered around bridging divides, building community, engaging wider student participation, and building empathy.

    • Students frequently attend conferences at other schools and through outside organizations

    • Future plans: Diversity Club will plan school events and activities, possibly in conjunction with outside organizations (St. Louis Archdiocese Peace and Justice Commission, Anti-Defamation League, and NCCJ), as well as invite speakers to campus. Long-term goals include hosting a student-led diversity conference on campus and planning a monologue series for students to share their specific experiences regarding discrimination, oppression, and racism.