Honesty. Respect. Responsibility. Kindness. These tenets of the St. Luke’s Honor Code line our campus driveway and adorn the four pillars of the Be Kind Plaza at the school’s entrance, sending a clear message: this is a school at which everyone is welcomed and respected.

Welcome Message from St. Luke's Director of Equity & Inclusion Jacqueline Nelson


Vision for Inclusive Excellence

Because a goal without a plan is just a wish, St. Luke’s developed a blueprint to achieve our vision of an inclusive community. The Vision for Inclusive Excellence (VIE) states that inclusion and belonging are central to institutional and educational excellence and to fostering a learning environment where students and adults develop as well-balanced, confident leaders who can succeed in a diverse, globally integrated world. The VIE is a commitment. It’s how St. Luke’s will hold itself accountable for living our values.

In alignment with the VIE, St. Luke’s focuses our equity and inclusion work around three pillars: Community, Curriculum, and Culture. Each of these is described in fuller detail below.


We celebrate the unique and varied contributions each of us makes to this community. Helping students deepen their understanding and appreciation of differences – in race, ethnicity, gender, ability, religion, sexual orientation, age, and socioeconomic status – is the primary goal of our equity and inclusion work at St. Luke's. It is our firm belief that working toward this goal expands perspectives and fosters empathy and respect for all (see our related blog post). These attributes are hallmarks of great leaders and of great human beings.

A rich diversity is reflected in the various teams that help to realize the goals outlined in the Vision. Please visit this page or click on the boxes below to see our E&I Office.
Community Goals for Learning
In order to promote our CGLs, which consist of curiosity, open-mindedness, truth & understanding, reflection, and integrity, students practice having challenging conversations. Topics have ranged from religion and religious stereotypes, race and racism, gender representation and media, party politics and political discord, mental health and stigmas around mental illness, and preventing violence and self-harm.

Recent SLS Community Events

8th grader

Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging all matter within our community at St. Luke's because it is important to give everyone an equal opportunity and ensure that they are being treated the same as everyone else in the community."


Diversity improves cognitive skills and deepens critical thinking. It promotes creativity and prepares students for effective citizenship. Equity and inclusion are fundamental to a student’s faith, trust, and ultimately, sense of safety within an institution. In a learning environment where differing points of view, experiences, and beliefs are welcome, students are able to grapple with complex human dynamics, a broad range of perspectives, hard histories, and social dilemmas that expand their thinking and understanding of the world. When students feel safe, they are more willing to take academic risks to participate and achieve at a higher level.

Throughout every grade and discipline, opportunities abound for teachers and students to self-reflect, engage with a different point of view, and prepare to thrive in a diverse society.

Learn more: How Diversity Enhances Curriculum

11th grader

DEI work is essential to making St. Luke’s community members feel safe on the Hilltop and prepare students as well rounded, understanding, empathetic humans for their life beyond St. Luke’s."


Culture encompasses shared values, traditions, behaviors, and beliefs. To create an inclusive culture and foster a sense of belonging, we support a variety of student and adult affinity and alliance groups, multicultural spaces, and community events that encourage the respectful exchange of ideas, backgrounds, cultures, experiences, and perspectives - please see below for examples and for recent contributions from our community.

List of 1 frequently asked questions.

List of 1 frequently asked questions.

Featured Video: "Belonging" vs. "Fitting In"
Several Middle and Upper Schools students shared their thoughts about the differences between "belonging" and "fitting in" - some interviewees reflected on their own experiences in the St. Luke's School community.

Frequently Asked Questions

At St. Luke’s we lean into conversations about identity to provide students with the opportunity to develop their moral compass with empathy and respect for others; enhance their leadership capacity; and encourage a sense of agency and belonging. As educators, we embrace developmentally appropriate practices and take into account a child’s background knowledge and lived experiences. We understand that social and educational success relies on developing a positive sense of self and instruction that includes social-emotional learning. Our goal is to prepare St. Luke’s graduates to thrive in highly heterogeneous and global work environments where a sophisticated understanding of how to interact with and lead diverse teams will be critical to their success.

The following FAQs are designed to address common questions and open the door for more conversation. We encourage you to reach out to our Director of Equity and Inclusion throughout the year if you have any questions or would like further information as we support our community in this important work.

Key Terms & Definitions

The following key terms and definitions are offered to encourage the use of a shared vocabulary and understanding.

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    1. Gender is the attitudes, feelings, and behaviors that a given culture associates with a person’s biological sex. (APA) Gender is often assigned based on sexual and reproductive anatomy. 
    2. Gender identity refers to one’s sense of oneself as male, female, or something else. When one’s gender identity and biological sex are not congruent, the individual may identify along the transgender spectrum. (APA)
    3. Transgender is an umbrella term that incorporates differences in gender identity wherein one's assigned biological sex doesn't match their felt gender identity. (APA) According to the American Psychological Association, “80% of transgender adults report knowing they were ‘different’ as early as elementary school.”
    4. Bias refers to behavior or language that demonstrates prejudice (preconceived opinion not based on reason or actual experience) in favor of or against one person or group compared to another.
    5. Bigotry refers to obstinate or unreasonable conduct or commentary that denigrates or offends another person, motivated (in whole or in part) by a biased belief or opinion held against another with regard to citizenship status, disability, ethnic origin, gender, nationality, race, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status.
    6. “BIPOC” is an acronym to describe “Black, Indigenous, People of Color” as a collective.
    7. “Colorblind” is the belief that everyone should be treated “equally” without respect to societal, economic, historical, racial or other differences. No differences are seen or acknowledged; everyone's the same.
    8. Culture describes a shared set of practices and beliefs,(i.e. the things we do/don’t, the ways we do/don’t do them, and the reasons why.)
    9. Discrimination refers to an action by an institution or individual that denies access or opportunity to people based on their social identity (such as gender, religion, or racial identity). Outcomes of such actions, rather than intent, are the basis for use of the term.
    10. Diversity describes the representation of different types of people (e.g. different races, ethnicities, cultural backgrounds, ages, abilities, religious beliefs, worldviews, socioeconomic status etc.) in a group or organization.
    11. Dominant group/culture refers to those within a society that have the greatest power, privileges, and social status. It may or may not be the majority of the population. In the United States, the dominant group has historically been white, Christian, affluent, and male. A dominant group achieves its position by controlling economic and political institutions, communications/media, education and health institutions, the arts, and business. The dominant culture is the way of life defined by the dominant group as “normal” and right.
    12. Ethnicity refers to the identification of group members based on a common heritage, often derived from where their ancestors lived.
    13. Melanin refers to the pigment that gives people different skin, eye, and hair colors.
    14. People of Color (PoC) is a term used to collectively identify those groups that have historically been and currently are targets of racism in the United States - for example, African & Caribbean Americans, Asian-Pacific Americans, Latino Americans, Indigenous & Native Americans, and Middle Eastern & Arab Americans. This term is not intended to deny the significant differences within this group.
    15. Prejudice is a preconceived judgment, attitude, opinion, or feeling formed without adequate information, prior knowledge, thought, or reason. Prejudice can be pre-judgment for or against any person or group.
    16. Race is a term to describe the social construct aimed at grouping people on the basis of physical features such as skin color, hair texture etc. The scientific consensus is there is no biological basis for such classification. Historically, race has been leveraged to establish a human hierarchy of inferiority and superiority and serves as the rationale for legal discrimination, colonization, enslavement, and systemic oppression. 
    17. Racial identity describes how one self-identifies or is classified by other people and by social institutions. In addition, it includes how one comes to understand and feel about one’s racial group membership. Racial identity development is a lifelong process in which individuals come to interpret and internalize varying messages about their own racial group and establish their sense of self based on personal, cultural, interpersonal, and institutional interactions.
    18. Racial literacy refers to a historical and sociological understanding of how race has been constructed and used to shape the world in which we live; the development of skills that enable us to function in an increasingly diverse society and constructively converse about race.
    19. Racism describes the inability or refusal to recognize the rights, needs, dignity, or value of people of particular races or geographical origins. More widely, the devaluation of various traits of character or intelligence as ‘typical’ of particular peoples (Oxford Reference); attitudes, actions, or practices of an institution, backed by societal power that creates a “system of advantage and disadvantage based on race.” (David Wellman) 
    20. Structural Inequality is the systemic disadvantage(s) of one social group compared to other groups, rooted and perpetuated through discriminatory practices (conscious or unconscious) that are reinforced through institutions, ideologies, representations, policies/laws, and practices. When this kind of inequality is related to racial/ethnic discrimination is referred to as systemic or structural racism.

Additional Questions?

We always prefer an in-person chat, but please reach out to us by email (deib@jennifergower.com) and we'll be in touch.
St. Luke’s School is a secular (non-religious), private school in New Canaan, CT for grades 5 through 12 serving over 35 towns in Connecticut and New York. Our exceptional academics and diverse co-educational community foster students’ intellectual and ethical development and prepare them for top colleges. St. Luke’s Center for Leadership builds the commitment to serve and the confidence to lead.