Inclusivity at Highland


Highland is committed to a culture of inclusion that promotes a school climate and community of character that enables everyone to “thrive, lead and serve.” To articulate and affirm this commitment, Highland has adopted an Inclusivity Statement to stand alongside its Mission Statement:


Highland School is committed to a culture of inclusion that affirms the innate dignity and worth of every individual as an essential aspect of our educational mission. The most enduring learning takes place in an environment where every member of the community feels safe, respected, known, trusted, and valued. We are deeply enriched by sharing different perspectives, traditions, and backgrounds. It is by including everyone in conversations and all areas of school life that we fully prepare students for engaged citizenship and compassionate leadership.

Highland displays diversity in our current student body, which includes first-generation college students, international students from six countries, children of alumni, and every ethnic group in our seven-county region. Highland pursues equity in providing tuition assistance to more than half of our student body so students who can benefit from a Highland educational experience have access to do so. Highland sustains a culture of belonging by placing personal relationships at the forefront of our approach to education, student programming, staff professional development, and community outreach.

Our concept of inclusivity at Highland draws inspiration from the following passage of The Inclusion Breakthrough by Frederick Miller and Judith Katz:

“Beyond simply being nice or prohibiting discrimination, [inclusivity is] how a group actively creates an environment in which diverse members ‘share a sense of belonging, mutual respect, being valued for who they are, and supportive energy and commitment from others so that they can do their best work.’”

Inclusivity is a goal and ideal, but it’s also a process and a commitment to action – in other words, a form of leadership. It’s the climate of a school life and culture of belonging, it’s what creates and sustains the community that we have at Highland, and in that way it’s a common skill set and mindset that we want all Highland Hawks to develop through fellowship in our school program.

List of 3 items.

  • A Unified School Program

    Inclusivity as a basic skill set and mindset unites the rest of our signature school programs. We prioritize experiential learning as the most effective way to develop character traits and social-emotional skills in our students that empower them toward servant-leadership through taking action for the sake of others they are in community with.

    Inclusivity, leadership, service, character, culture, climate, and community – at Highland, these all go together in a coherent educational philosophy.

  • Inclusive School Programs

    Inclusivity frames our approach to school programming across the board. Assemblies and cultural celebrations promote an understanding of diverse values and traditions. Student-led clubs and service programs build cultural competency to converse and collaborate across various social contexts. Academic programs promote global awareness and empower student action for equality and justice.

    Our curriculum, especially in the arts and humanities, includes voices and stories that reflect our school community while opening doors of understanding into the broader world of events and people beyond Highland. Our athletic programs place positive team and coaching relationships above all else. The concept of ‘expedition behavior’ orients our ‘field studies’ experiential education activities.

    Read more about inclusivity in action at Highland:
  • Faculty Professional Growth

    Highland faculty and staff engage in regular professional development. We pursue ongoing learning and training to affirm our shared values and language, and to stay abreast of current events and best practices in inclusive pedagogy.

    As part of this, we challenge ourselves to be reflective, curious, open-minded, humane, empathetic and courageous in the skills we use to help students “thrive, lead and serve in a diverse and dynamic world.” Here are some highlights from recent workshops and professional network-building:

    • In February of 2023, Highland faculty and students completed a program on Youth and Teen Mental Health First Aid, to better understand and address mental health stressors and disorders that can afflict high school students.

    • In October of 2022, Highland faculty welcomed Coach Pamela Malone of the Positive Coaching Alliance, who helped us think through the parallels and connections between athletic coaches’ and classroom teachers’ approaches to building strong school culture and student relationships through positive motivation strategies.

    • In October of 2021, Highland faculty attended a workshop with education consultant Jen Cort, to learn about ways in which the adolescent experience is different today when it comes to the role of development, devices, athletics, and sociocultural change.

    • In June through August of 2020, Highland faculty participated in a week-long best practices course on distance learning, developed and led workshops introducing the pedagogical framework of social-emotional learning (SEL), and shared resources and strategies for addressing contentious sociopolitical issues including the worldwide summer protests over the murder of George Floyd.
Highland School is a co-ed independent Pre-K2 to Grade 12 day school located in Warrenton, Virginia.