What is an Equitable Community?

An intentional learning community that encourages and equips each student with the resources and tools to allow her to define her identity, to participate fully in school life, and to achieve her potential in order to live a healthy and fulfilling life.

To share your questions, comments, concerns, or feedback with administrators at McGehee, please complete this form. We will do our best to have someone reach out to you as quickly as possible.
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Please use this form to submit your resources to the group. 

Anti-Racism Focus Groups (Summer 2020)

Over 75 faculty, staff, and administrators participated in our anti-racism focus groups this summer. Group facilitators met every other week to discuss major trends, questions, and concerns that came up in their groups. All meetings were recorded and the major themes that emerged were tallied. These themes will help to inform the working groups that we will create (see more information below about our working groups). 

Other Work

  • High Resolves programming for Middle and Upper School advisory: citizenship education to prepare students to be civically engaged and culturally competent. 
  • An August 2020 Board of Trustees retreat centered around examining unconscious bias, sparked by reading Blindspot: The Hidden Biases of Good People (Banaji & Greenwald, 2016). Strategic planning conversations of the day focused on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and recruitment efforts.
  • Xavier University Norman C. Francis Residency Program Partnership: McGehee School is the first independent school partner in this high quality teacher preparation program. Residents are supported through mentoring, coaching, and graduate courses and learn from professional field service in the classroom.

In The Classroom

Equitable Community Working Groups (Fall 2020)

Several themes emerged from our faculty focus groups this summer. We plan to convene working groups around these themes to propose some action plans for the school.
  • Groups will consist mainly of McGehee teachers and administrators, along with parents, alumnae, and other volunteers from the community. 
  • Groups will meet, conduct research, and put together proposals for Dr. Field-Marvin by late November so that she and the Board of Trustees can review, plan, prioritize, and budget appropriately.  
  • Please see this link for a preliminary list of working groups and their functions.
  • If you would like to lend your voice to this discussion please complete this survey

Other Work

  • Creating a parent-led welcoming committee for students and families of color.
  • Jumpers and Skirts: Upper School Diversity Club instituting "buddy" partnerships between Upper School and Lower School students.
  • School wide curriculum review to ensure that diverse voices are represented in books for students.
  • Alumnae Listening and Learning Sessions (October 14 and 20, 2020): virtual meetings facilitated by Toni Cross, Hathaway Brown School's Director of Diversity, Equity, and Student Life.

Recent Communication

List of 4 items.

  • October 7, 2020

    Dear McGehee Parents,

    In 1912, Miss McGehee created a school for young women that would rival any of the college preparatory schools already in existence for young men. Graduates of McGehee were expected to face challenges head on, to discover issues that impassioned them, and to think critically about the issues of the day.

    Our School’s founder made a commitment early on to persuade her students to learn of and confront controversial subjects. She reportedly invited many speakers to campus to provide her students with the opportunity to hear from different perspectives. Some of those speakers included several who had very strong opinions, including poets and essayists, activists, and a famous socialist leader, among others. She knew that her students needed to learn about the world and deserved a thorough, well-rounded education to enable them to take on lives of consequence.

    The aim of the school has not wavered; McGehee remains committed to providing a sound education to girls and young women to allow them to develop leadership skills, live honorable lives, and serve their communities to make those places stronger and better.

    Rather than providing us with a clear vision, 2020 has certainly given us more than a fair share of cloudy challenges–a cascade of crises really–related to public health, the economy, racial justice and equity, as well as civil and political discord. However, just like McGehee always has, we look to our mission and values to help us thoughtfully navigate complexity:
     
    The mission of The Louise S. McGehee School is to provide a rigorous college-preparatory education to girls in an inclusive environment which fosters self-esteem, encourages high personal standards, addresses individual student needs, and emphasizes active student participation in the learning process. The program uses traditional and innovative teaching strategies to challenge students and to foster enthusiasm and a commitment to lifelong learning.
     
    In order to fulfill our mission to be active participants in the learning process, students must practice the skills that they are learning. It is our responsibility as educators to provide them with tools and the opportunity to use those tools in order to build competency and agency.

    A beacon of our program is to encourage the development of student agency. In my doctoral research at the University of Pennsylvania, I posited that one way to locate safe passage through adolescence involves the establishment of competencies that foster a sense of agency in girls including: a voice to express informed opinions, the ability to make decisions, the development of self-confidence, a capacity to organize, and the vision or ability to motivate others. Agency is the ability to make decisions about one’s life and take actions to achieve a desired outcome and is critical in the development of global citizenship. As an all girls’ school, we are uniquely positioned to show our students that it is acceptable to make a mistake–to sometimes fail when boldly attempting something new. At McGehee, precisely because we are an all-girls' environment, our students can confidently develop their own agency.

    We encourage our girls to be bold while at the same time thoughtful, confident, curious, creative, and resilient. Each year, our students take chances in the classroom, often trying new ideas on for size, all the while learning about respect and civil discourse. McGehee girls learn quickly that they can disagree with one another yet still find common ground to allow for meaningful discussion and debate. This is how we teach girls to learn and to lead rather than become part of a “call out” or “cancel” culture. We teach them how to think, not what to think; we teach them that real dialogue and real discussion involves active listening and analysis and is not one-sided. We teach our students to advocate and ask questions, to take risks and grow. These skills are vital to becoming meaningful participants in a democracy.

    This summer and fall, several members of our faculty and administration have been part of a task force on civil discourse. Their role has been to outline our values around civil discourse, using the School’s mission as a guide. As active learners, critical thinkers, and members of a wonderfully multicultural community, our students will gain and practice the skills necessary to lead with compassion and humility, while fairly evaluating and analyzing available data. Attached here is a document that outlines the work of the task force. We think it serves as an appropriate guide as we navigate through challenging times.

    Further, in an effort to foster greater civil discourse among our community members, dedicated groups of faculty and administrators will be reaching out to students, parents, alumnae, and board members as part of our Equitable Community working groups. These working groups are designed to serve as a continuation of our faculty focus groups from the summer. The main themes that emerged during our summer focus groups were used to generate questions for discussion. After including a variety of voices, each group will draft proposals for the consideration of our Board of Trustees.

    If you are interested in being contacted for an interview about any of these topics, please indicate your interest via this survey.

    Civil discourse is one of the most important issues facing us today–it affects us socially, politically, and educationally. How best can we speak, listen, debate, make a decision, and move to action? How do we do so thoughtfully and respectfully? This process is an essential one in our democratic society, yet our digital age seems to have supplanted dialogue with diatribes. As educators, we take the responsibility of teaching our future leaders how to engage in real discourse to bolster not only our school community, but to live up to our founders in creating “a more perfect union”.
     
    Sincerely,
    Dr. Kim Field-Marvin
    Head of School
  • June 22, 2020

    Dear McGehee Community,

    In 1912, our founder, Louise Schaumburg McGehee, defied the conventional wisdom of her time by opening a school for girls. During that time, there were very few schools devoted to the education of girls and young women. Today, we remain committed to our founder’s ultimate goal of providing the very best education and experience for all of our students. In doing so, we remain faithful to our all important mission:

    “The mission of The Louise S. McGehee School is to provide a rigorous college-preparatory education to girls in an inclusive environment which fosters self-esteem, encourages high personal standards, addresses individual student needs, and emphasizes active student participation in the learning process. The program uses traditional and innovative teaching strategies to challenge students and to foster enthusiasm and a commitment to lifelong learning.”

    A Summary of Recent Communications
    As you may or may not know, over the course of the week of June 1, 2020 McGehee was flooded with calls, letters, emails, and social media messages from all constituency groups on the topic of racial inequity and McGehee's responsibility to build a better anti-racist framework for our community. (The term “anti-racist” means the opposite of racist; an anti-racist actively endorses racial equity.) Most of the messages came from a love of and loyalty for the school. Many of the communications were in direct response to McGehee's marketing campaign for GiveNOLA day, which coincided with a #blackout day on social media. Other comments were more general in their critiques of McGehee's failure to respond to the most recent police killings of Black citizens. Several constituencies pointed to different periods in McGehee's history where we fell short in meeting our mission of inclusivity, and they endeavored to see change. Many expressed the unique position of McGehee to take a leadership role in this way. In the same way that we ask our students to approach difficult material with an open heart and an open mind, we too as an institution must do the same. To those who have expressed their pain to us (and to those who have not), we are truly sorry and hope to earn your partnership.

    Through all of these messages and subsequent conversations, three things have been made abundantly clear: 
    1. Our school must hold itself accountable for our actions (and periods of inaction); 
    2. Alumnae, current students, parents, trustees and faculty are committed to supporting each other in this work;
    3. Ideas and initiatives that we have been discussing and planning must be implemented now. 
    A Call to Action
    In my first two years at McGehee, I have been listening and learning with every constituency, including students, faculty, parents, alumnae, board members, administration, and staff and have come to understand that issues around Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) were top of mind for many. DEI is an area where we have much room for improvement, and it is time for us to implement intentional efforts to become not only a truly inclusive community, but also an anti-racist community, in fulfillment of our mission, as our resources and circumstances allow. It will take our whole community, working together, to begin to make a real difference. Of course, it will not take place overnight, but we are already taking steps in this direction. 

    Faculty Development and Curriculum
    The most recent racially charged police violence directed at Black men and women has furthered the call to action to implement many of the things that we have been discussing. 
    1. We have assembled faculty/staff/administrator focus groups to discuss the adoption of anti-racist pedagogy. These ‘in house’ focus groups are meeting virtually throughout the summer. Based on the most pressing concerns that arise from these focus groups, our plan is to transition to working groups that will tackle areas such as curriculum by division, community engagement, and more. We will invite alumnae, parents, board members, and students to participate in focus groups in the next phase.
    2. We have also been able to partner with High Resolves to begin their work with our teachers during our August 2020 workshops. High Resolves is a program of citizenship education, which encompasses social justice, global competence, civics, and social emotional learning. We will expand our work to include student education, parent education, and additional professional development for teachers over the course of the entire 2020-2021 school year and beyond. We are seeking additional consulting services from local organizers to help us better prepare our teachers for this important work. 
    3. As an educational resource to our community we are building a page on our website to share information about topics of anti-racism and DEI.
    Community Engagement
    An important component of our action plan will be in our efforts to work with and hear from all of the constituencies of our community. Learning from and talking through issues, resources, and ideals will be an important “hands on” part of our goal. We are eager to:
    1. Create Alumnae/Student Affinity groups; 
    2. Start Lower, Middle, and Upper School Affinity groups (parents will sign up their lower and middle school students with upper school 'buddies'); and 
    3. Host meaningful anti-racist school-wide events, led by our Upper School students and teachers from all divisions.
    Hiring Practices
    As we work towards a more intentionally inclusive community, we recognize the need to prioritize diverse hiring practices. Countless studies point to improved outcomes for all students when there is diverse representation among their teachers. We are finalizing our partnership with Xavier University's Norman C Francis Residency Program which will provide a conduit for attracting candidates of color to our cadre of teachers. 

    Affordability and Accessibility
    The conversations around diversity have not been limited to racial or ethnic representation, as we also seek to mitigate issues of financial accessibility. Our tuition assistance budget is larger than any other independent school in the city, as a percentage of our total enrollment. For 2020-2021, that total comes to $1,117,000. This program serves over 33% of our families. We do this intentionally to create a sort of tipping point in the socio-economic makeup of our community. In addition, under the direction of the Board, in consultation with the Head of School and the Director of Finance, we have been able to offer just over $100,000 in emergency assistance to families whose finances were significantly disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    I am hopeful that the momentum that we have begun will feed our efforts to make McGehee more inclusive, diverse, equitable, and anti-racist. As we begin to do the important work to face our histories and the history of the school and our city, our own biases, and the biases of our families and students and alumnae, we will together be active participants in making our community a better place. Your participation in this work is crucial, and we are very grateful to have you with us on this journey. 
     
    Sincerely,
    Kim Field-Marvin
    Head of School
  • June 15, 2020

    Dear Parents,

    Now that the 2019-2020 school year has drawn to a close, we are looking forward to bringing our community together on campus in August. The beginning of the year will be a time of rejuvenation and adjustment as we reassemble in a fashion as close to normal as possible.

    2020 continues to be a year of incredible change for our country and community. Right now, we are all facing the atrocities of the past and present, yet we have great hope for the future, especially because of the students, families, and faculty that we are blessed to work with each and every day at McGehee. James Baldwin once wrote, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” 

    We can only imagine that our students at every age have questions about the recent events and what they have seen on the news and on social media. The recent horrific killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, KY, Ahmaud Arbery in Glynn County, GA, and Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta, GA, as well as the fact that the Coronavirus disproportionately affects people of color and Black people in particular, are grave reminders that we need to be better partners and allies within McGehee as well as in our city, our state, and the country. Students of color and our Black and African American students may feel angry or worried for their own safety or the safety of their families, while White students may be wondering how the issues connect to them and how they should respond and better support the members of their community and their friends. 

    If you or your child would like to discuss these issues or any concerns or feelings with someone you trust, reach out to an advisor, teacher, counselors, parents/caregivers, or any of us. We welcome questions and conversations. 

    We have gathered a number of resources in collaboration with our colleagues from other schools to help you get the conversations with your children started. We plan to build out a page on our website dedicated to resources to support our McGehee families. 

    Talking About Racism for Every Age Group
    Anti-Racism For Kids 101: Starting to Talk about Race
    George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. What Do We Tell Our Children?
    Talking to Children After Racial Incidents
    10 tips for teaching and talking to kids about race
    Talking to Children About Racial Bias
    How to Talk to Kids About Tragedies in the Media
    How to Talk to Your Children About Protests and Racism
    Your Kids Aren't Too Young to Talk About Race: Resource Roundup

    Throughout the course of the past year, the administration has considered and worked towards building our citizenship and leadership education for students at every level. Plans for this curriculum go hand in hand with anti-racist pedagogy. While we have a great deal of work to do, we have already started building the framework for a more intentional curricular and societal experience that will be developed through a lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

    As we mentioned earlier, please do not hesitate to contact us with any concerns or questions. We will continue to keep you informed of our plans and priorities moving forward. 
     
    Sincerely,
    Betsy Dobson, Meredith Duke, Whitney Drennan, Jessica Holl,
    and Jeanné Appelget
    Louise S. McGehee School Division Heads
  • June 3, 2020

    Dear McGehee Alumnae,

    My intention of writing to you early this week fell apart when I was knocked down by a virus that took me out of commission for the past four days. I am now back on my feet again and wanted to take a moment to address you. 

    Let me begin by saying how sorry I am for not being “present” yesterday, when many of you needed to hear from me and your alma mater. In so many ways, 2020 has been a disheartening and devastating year. The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked physical and financial havoc on so many, particularly people of color, and remains a threat to lives and livelihoods across the world. And, just as things seemed to be somewhat improving on the public health front, we learned about the brutal killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, along with the racist incident in Central Park. We have to do better, be united, and remain resolved to challenge and defeat prejudice and systemic racism in this country.

    Alumnae, from the love and loyalty you have for one another and your alma mater to the many wonderful McGehee experiences that you have had and have shared, thank you for caring so very much for your school. Several of you have spoken up, as McGehee girls do, and expressed concern about the school’s GiveNOLA Day campaign which took place yesterday alongside the social media blackout. While I know the timing could not have been worse, this annual fundraising date was set in stone months ago by the Greater New Orleans Foundation and it is the one day of giving that is crucial to McGehee’s operating budget as it raises the funds necessary to make up the school expenses not covered by tuition. A good portion of this supports financial assistance for students, faculty salaries, professional development for teachers, partnerships with community organizations and much more. This effort was more important than ever this year given the pandemic, which has created significant financial disruption to us all.

    For over 108 years now, McGehee alumnae have paved the way to progress and reform. You have spoken up, fought for your beliefs and addressed injustices that needed to be tackled. There are countless McGehee women who have attempted to right perceived wrongs and ventured into careers that may have been out of their comfort zone, yet were the right things to do. And, there are certainly current McGehee students who go out of their way to work to combat inequities in many ways: our 9th grade students work to take charge of their learning and thus their futures; our sophomores examine the way the American Dream has fallen short for so many citizens, especially for people of color, over the past two centuries; our 11th graders find ways to engage in real-world policy issues that mean something to them, fact-checking as they go; and our seniors have the opportunity to put all of those years of study to good use in their mentorship projects.
     
    At McGehee we encourage our ‘leading women’ to find their voices as they learn how to speak their minds. McGehee has a long, respected history of free, open, and vigorous debate, vitally important to our mission and to the education of our girls and yet, we still have a way to go. As an innovative school, it is essential to our mission that we continue to educate our students about the importance of cultivating an environment that is inclusive. While debate and discourse are naturally full of disagreements, we believe the process should also be respectful. The recent riots and violence across the nation have underscored the importance of perpetuating a school environment that is welcoming, safe, and diverse. I am very proud of McGehee. Our mission includes a call to inclusivity, and that is something we take to heart. My sincere hope is that we always stress the importance of expanding our perspectives, and hopefully, increase the acceptance of our differences. This is at the heart of our mission.
     
    Just last week, some of our students received affirmation about a positive change they sought by speaking their minds. Last December, students in the 4th Grade took a stand to right a perceived wrong and received international attention for their efforts. While immersed in a social studies review on the Southeast region of the U.S., the girls discovered a statement they strongly disagreed with in their textbook about how the plantation economy led to the institution of slavery. The statement they questioned was the following, “Tobacco farming took a lot of work.  As more farmers grew tobacco, they needed more enslaved Africans to do the work." One student questioned the word “needed,” saying the text should read “wanted.” Teacher Laura Whooley remarked at the time, “What followed was the most beautiful class discussion that made me the proudest I've probably ever felt as a teacher,” and she challenged them to do something about their concerns. “When you see or feel that something is wrong, it is your duty to stand up and do something about it in a respectful way.” The girls quickly dove into action, writing letters to the publisher, McGraw-Hill, requesting this change. With Ms. Whooley’s help on social media, the girls tweeted their discovery and asked for a change, and McGraw-Hill responded quickly that the girls’ letters were impactful and were being sent to their Academic Design team. Ms. Whooley shared the story on her Facebook page, with the thought that if her nine-year-old students could make a difference that quickly then so should she. It is estimated that close to one million people saw or engaged with their post online. Last Thursday, Ms. Whooley emailed her 4th grade students that she has just received word and confirmation from McGraw-Hill that they had changed the wording in the section “Slavery and Opposition.” The publisher, "read your words, learned from them, and changed that sentence to read 'wanted' in the chapter."
     
    On the first day of school, Carolyn Thompson’s Government class was told that unlike Chemistry or even U.S. History, the girls come to Government with a lot of assumptions and preconceptions about politics and government. Their first assignment was to write those down on a note card and throw it in the trash. This exercise encourages them to walk through the door of her classroom with open minds, ready to dive into our study of government and politics. Ms. Thompson explains to students that her job is not to change their minds or undermine what they've learned at home but instead to help them formulate their own ideas and arguments about the role of government and the responsibilities of citizenship based on the knowledge and understanding they gain from the course. The juniors also discussed the importance of taking a course in Government–to learn what they can do to change their world. Throughout the year, those same Juniors are tasked with identifying an area of policy interest and advocating for that issue in their annual Model Congress project. They use social media to engage with politicians and policy experts in real time, using what they learn to better articulate their positions and expand their opportunities for deeper understanding.

    These are powerful examples of what Margaret Mead once wrote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Her words ring as true now as they did in 1978. It is imperative that we continue to challenge ourselves to find our unity and strength through diversity. We are all in this together.
     
    In the coming weeks we will reach out to our alumnae community for your help as we continue the vital work ahead, inside McGehee and within our own communities. Together we will work to build a just, equitable society for our present and our future.
     
    Sincerely,
    Kim Field-Marvin
    Head of School

Contact Us

List of 11 members.

  • Photo of Eugenia Stern

    Eugenia "Genie" Stern 

    Guidance Counselor
    504-274-4938
  • Photo of Carlotta Pelikan

    Carlotta Pelikan 

    Guidance Counselor
    504-274-3989
  • Photo of Julee LaPorte

    Julee LaPorte 

    Director of Enrollment Management
    504-274-4919
  • Photo of Valeria Whitfield-Dunn

    Valeria "Val" Whitfield-Dunn 

    Dean of Students, Upper School PE Teacher, Head Volleyball Coach
  • Photo of Kathleen Banta

    Kathleen Banta 95

    Associate Director of Development
    504-274-4917
  • Photo of Betsy Dobson

    Betsy Dobson 

    Head of Little Gate
    504-274-4946
  • Photo of Meredith Duke

    Meredith Duke 97

    Assistant Head of Little Gate
    504-274-4930
  • Photo of Whitney Drennan

    Whitney Drennan 

    Head of Lower School
    504-274-4934
  • Photo of Jessica Holl

    Jessica Holl 

    Head of Middle School
    504-274-4922
  • Photo of Jeanné Appelget

    Jeanné Appelget 

    Head of Upper School
    504-274-4921
  • Photo of Kimberly Field-Marvin

    Kimberly Field-Marvin 

    Head of School
2343 Prytania Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
504-561-1224
publications@mcgeheeschool.com
Louise S. McGehee School is a private independent all-girls school for Pre-K through grade 12 and open to all qualified girls regardless of race, religion, national or ethnic origin.