Guest Contributor: Nicole Brewington Smith, STA Director of DEI

August 24, 2022

This summer, I was named Director of Equity and Inclusive Education (DEI) at St. Teresa’s Academy. It was truly a blessing for me — the right place at the right time.

This year marks my 15th year in Catholic Education. After teaching at Rockhurst High School for 13 years, I joined STA last year to teach Personal Finance, Entrepreneurship and Digital Marketing. When the DEI position  became available here, I felt the stars had aligned.

Before coming to STA, I led the Diversity Committee at Rockhurst. It started as a book study and turned into a full committee that sponsored a faculty and staff DEI in-service day. It was wonderful to be part of that transformation. It was incredibly rewarding, and I was sorry to leave. I hoped I’d have another opportunity to work on DEI efforts, which is why it seemed so fortuitous to have it happen here it STA. I love the spirit and camaraderie at an all-girls’ school, and it’s a perfect place to use my experience to grow the impact and scope of DEI.

I have a number of ideas and plans to make the DEI program even stronger and better. Every day, I see our students working together on campus, supporting and lifting each other up in many ways. They inspire me even more to do the right thing for them and the Academy. It’s so important that we seek to understand each other better and bridge any gaps in understanding between our backgrounds and cultures.

This year, I’m working on a number of strategic and interrelated initiatives to do just that. I’m updating the Academy’s Ongoing Professional Development Program (OPDP) for faculty and staff, who fulfill a minimum of two credits per year. This program includes the traditional options such as book clubs and discussion groups, and this year I’m adding new ones such as excursions and podcasts. Other ways I’m working to advance DEI at STA include acting as moderator of the Black Student Coalition, and joining with the leaders of the Asian and Hispanic affinity groups to discuss how we can all collaborate to achieve our goals. The Academy’s outstanding Experiential Learning program is also an area of focus. You’ll hear more about the Star Galaxy group, which is a standing committee of the Star Parents Association that provides opportunities for parents to engage in the school’s DEI efforts. I’ve also met with students about the extracurricular fair, which is being held this week. My goal is to ensure this wide and wonderful range of topics represents our diverse student community. The possibilities are endless and exciting!

I look forward to working with the STA community to expand and elevate the DEI program. Since its founding in 1866, STA has had a rich history of diversity and inclusion. I’m honored to continue that, and I welcome conversations with parents and community members who would like to know more.

Nicole Brewington Smith, MBA

Nicole Smith

Nicole Brewington Smith, MBA
Director of Equity and Inclusive Education