During its virtual live-stream awards presentation on Thursday, January 28, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) presented its annual District III/Southeast Awards. Mount Paran Christian School earned the top honor in the “Diversity and Talent Management: DEI Initiatives” category. The Gold award was presented to MPCS for its “Campaign for CommUNITY”: Building Equity On Campus. The Silver award was presented to Auburn University, with Bronze awarded to the University of Florida.
The 2021 CASE District III Institutional Awards represent the very best in advancement across the Southeast. More than 700 entries were submitted for the 70-plus awards categories. MPCS was one of eight independent schools in the district to win a CASE award - the majority of the awards are presented to colleges and universities. The Westminster Schools in Atlanta is the only other K-12 school in Georgia to have garnered a CASE award.
For its “Diversity and Talent Management” submission, MPCS detailed its efforts at building a diverse and inclusive campus climate. Since 2012, when the school created its first CommUNITY Task Force (CTF), MPCS has been implementing administration-supported initiatives to build a diverse and inclusive community within the school. Eight years later, the CTF continues developing a multi-phased plan whose goal is to represent the unity of the body of Christ - a “CommUNITY.” This plan includes a focus on
- collecting data from the MPCS community to identify opportunities to strengthen cultural units;
- evaluating institutional practices, policies, curriculum, and traditions to ensure they are welcoming and inclusive, with no unintentional bias;
- identifying and implementing ongoing training to equip faculty and staff;
- and formulating messages that value cultural differences.
The school hired its first Director of Diversity and Inclusion in the summer of 2018, with programming and initiatives growing annually.
To start the 2020-2021 academic year, MPCS adopted a “Campaign for CommUNITY - Love One Another" as a theme for the year. Members of the school community are reminded daily about loving all people, with visual reminders across campus. Unique banners hang from light posts and are spread throughout campus, with creative messages and visual representations of Bible verses. The banners were created by MPCS high school visual art students, each embodying the interpretation of a Bible verse, chosen from God's Word. Each distinct verse is inclusive of the diverse body of Christ and God's love for every one of us.
High School Visual Arts Instructor Kelly Karr tasked ten student artists with challenging parameters for the collaborative project. For unity amongst the final art pieces, students were assigned a hue and were asked to create a monochromatic piece. They were also given a word to interpret, with the imagery resulting in their final banner design.
C. Monroe, a sophomore at MPCS, created the artwork for the “Love One Another” banner. He shared, “Creation of these exemplary banners was a collaboration of artists across the high school. With but a word and a color, we were able to create these beautiful pieces of artwork as a commUNITY.”
The CASE judges said of the MPCS entry,
"Amazing campaign and programming. Their focus on building diversity and creating a more inclusive environment for their students began way before the racial unrest in 2020. Their outcomes are impressive, as is the level of engagement from various constituencies, such as students, faculty, parents, and leadership. They created programs that involved their entire community and did so in a creative, innovative, and cost-effective way."
The CommUNITY campaign has proven to help the school with its goal of being a more diverse school family. Since the formation of the CTF, MPCS has seen an amazing growth of a 100-percent increase, doubling diversity within the student body at the school. The CommUNITY campaign will continue to focus on increasing diverse student enrollment and retention, creating awareness among the faculty and student body, and continuing to build the already strong and respectful campus climate.
The Council for Advancement and Support of Education is the global non-profit association dedicated to educational advancement - alumni relations, communications, development, marketing, and advancement services - who share the goal of championing education to transform lives and society. The majority of its members are college and university advancement professionals, with some independent school members as well.
CASE District III advances and supports educational and professional institutions in the southeastern United States by enhancing the effectiveness of the alumni relations, fundraising, communications, marketing and other advancement professionals who serve them.CASE District III believes that education improves lives. Therefore, CASE serves its constituents by offering high-quality professional development opportunities, promoting ethical standards and principles of practice, respecting one another, and serving as an advocate for diversity in educational advancement.
The CASE District III Awards recognize work that was completed primarily between June 30, 2019, and August 20, 2020. Any CASE-member institution in District III is welcome to submit entries to the competition. Nominators must be employed at and on the CASE roster at a CASE-member institution. The work should primarily be that of staff at CASE-member institutions.