Diversity and Inclusion
We stand with all members of our community in solidarity with support and love.
Our students GO FAR because they understand and embrace the strength of community. We believe that diversity, equity, and inclusion provide the catalysts for fostering mindsets that lead to educational and personal excellence. We recognize that diversity offers the most dynamic environment for students to thrive when inclusion and equity are at the heart of our efforts. Our goal is a celebration of the unique and varied contributions each of us makes to this community, rather than a tolerance of differences.
FH values and celebrates the diversity and inclusion that enriches our society through the customs, traditions, languages, and perspectives of people of different cultures, religions, races, genders, sexual orientations, ages, abilities, ethnicities, and socioeconomic groups.
At Far Hills, we strive to find a balance of empathy, understanding, and optimism in student learning and create a sense of responsibility and hope in their understanding of themselves as citizens of the world. Our daily expectation that the Far Hills community will be guided by the pillars of respect, responsibility, leadership, kindness, and honesty will serve the students well when exploring critical questions about our constantly changing and complex society. Our job as a community is to help children access these tools and skills and use them to be creative, compassionate, and responsible thinkers. We are committed to this work, and our mission of preparing students for success in the modern world. We stand with all members of our community in solidarity with support and love.
- Listen. We invite open communication with current students, parents, and alumni, many of whom have indicated their desire to share their concerns and stories and recommendations.
- Understand. We continue to review opportunities for faculty and student training in cultural competency that can begin internally and be followed by external training during the school year, reflective of age appropriateness.
- Reflect. We consider how can we ensure anti-bias curriculums for students so they learn to express themselves and their beliefs, to celebrate differences, and to recognize their connections to others in the world.
- Discuss. We provide opportunities for safe spaces where students are seen, valued, cared for, and respected. We allow students and parents to engage in age-appropriate conversations and discussions on diversity, equity, and inclusion topics.
- Collaborate. We empower all constituencies with common language and practices to promote anti-bias concepts in order to create safe, respectful, and equitable classroom and school environments for all community members.
Meet Christina Sopko, Far Hills Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinator
Manages the development and implementation of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion principles at Far Hills
Christina has been an educator for over 25 years in a variety of subjects and educational settings. Before coming to Far Hills, she taught in the Pocono Mountains for 17 years. Prior to that, the New Jersey native lived in Kenya, Scotland, and France working in the communities and in educational research. She also worked on Capitol Hill for two years when she began her career. This extensive background brings a well-versed educator. She has attended the NJAIS Diversity workshops for the last two years becoming a part of a dedicated group of DEI practitioners. Christina has taught History, English, French, at Far Hills as well as worked as a learning specialist in the M.A.L.L. She is an academic advisor, co-advisor to student government, tennis coach, and an Upper School Mindfulness liaison. Christina lives in the Poconos with her husband and three sons.
Meet Rohan Arjun, Far Hills Board of Trustees Member
Principal Consultant with The Glasgow Group and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisor to Georgia S. Zaiser
Rohan is a seasoned admissions professional now serving as Director of Admission at George School near Philadelphia. Prior to that, he served as Associate Director of Admission at St. Mark's School. He also worked as an Admission/Global Service & Scholarship/Multicultural Affairs Fellow at The Taft School. Rohan is a founding member of the National Diversity Directors Institute. He has also served as a faculty member for the annual Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC). After graduating from George School in Pennsylvania, Rohan earned a Bachelor of Arts from Temple University in Afro-American Studies with a minor in History. While at Temple, Rohan was initiated into the Lambda Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. In addition to his role in the Admission Office at St. Mark’s, Rohan is an academic advisor, advisor of the Students Heightening Awareness of Diversity, Equality, and Service Affinity Group (S.H.A.D.E.S), Health Teacher, Assistant Varsity Football Coach, and a house parent. Rohan holds a Master of Science in Education for School Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania. He is a native of Jamaica, where he lived in Tivoli Gardens until the age of seven.
Meet Marie Dye, Far Hills Parent and Facilitator Resource
DEI Practitioner and Resource to FH Community
Marie Dye is a lecturer and certified coach. She has earned an International Coach Federation (ICF) certification in Leadership Coaching for Organizational Performance from Rutgers University; a Master of Arts in Strategic Communication and Leadership from Seton Hall University, a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from Kean University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Throughout her career as a lecturer in the departments of Communication at Rutgers University, Montclair State University, and Kean University, she has helped individuals develop their skills in education, leadership and strategic communication. Her classes provide students with the opportunity to participate in experimental learning centered around leadership, intercultural communication, conflict management and group communication.
As a certified coach she works with clients to develop their leadership presence by providing the skills and techniques necessary to work in diverse groups.
During the last two years, Marie has attended NJAIS conferences and DEI workshops to gather information and suggestions for growth and opportunities to implement change at FHCDS.
She meets bi-monthly with peer New Jersey Independent School Diversity Leaders to discuss topics related to:
- Tools and Resources for faculty and staff
- Educating parents about the importance of DEI work
- Tools and resources for parents and students
- Creative approaches to sensitive topics
- Affinity groups
- Support for students with mental health issues
- Support for the leadership team and hiring committee
- Professional development opportunities
- Creating safe spaces and opportunities for people to ask questions related to DEI work
Our faculty and staff is committed to continuing our diversity, equity, and inclusion work. Ways that we have done this include:
- Trainings with The Glasgow Group
- Staff participation in the Widening the Lens Conference
- Participation in a wide variety of professional growth opportunities, including leadership participation in a peer discussion to be facilitated by Tiffany Taylor Smith on June 9, 2020.
Through self-reflection, discussion, and initiative, our students can challenge inequity and push each other to be more empathic and thoughtful. More than ever, we need young people who can think critically, speak and debate thoughtfully, and question appropriately. Present-day issues have not only created the demand for researchers and scientists, but also the need for responsible activists and citizens committed to education and dialogue.
- participates in the Anti-Defamation League's No Place for Hate Initiative;
- hosts variety of assemblies that address a wide range of cultures;
- students participate in service learning with non-profit organizations in the local community; and
- offers Advising Groups to provide a safe space for questions and dialogue.
While much is uncertain, we do know that part of the solution starts with education. To that end, see below for some age-appropriate resources that may support you and your family.
- Teaching Tolerance
- Talking to Kids About Race
- How to Educate Your Children on Protests & Riots
- George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. What Do We Tell Our Children?
- Helping Kids Process Violence, Trauma, and Race in a World of Nonstop News
- How White Parents Can Use Media to Raise Anti-Racist Kids
- Beyond the Golden Rule
- Books for Children and Young Adults that have won the Coretta Scott King Book Award
- The Conscious Kid
- The Conscious Kid on Instagram
- Teaching Young Children About Bias, Diversity, and Social Justice
- 31 Children's Books to Support Conversations on Race, Racism, and Resistance
- Schomburg's Black Liberation List for Kids
- What does it mean to be anti-racist?
- Resources for White People to Learn and Talk about Race and Racism
- Georgia Zaiser's June 1, 2020 letter to the community
Far Hills faculty and staff are reading: