Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Nichols School Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Mission Statement, Adopted March 2020

Nichols School commits to being a courageous community, grounded in equity of process and outcomes, where we can all safely and authentically be ourselves and therefore accept the challenge of our collective growth.  

How Do We Build Community?

List of 4 items.

  • Diversity

    Diversity refers to population demographics and multiple identities represented in our school. 

    Nichols School welcomes differences and values the full engagement of individuals within our communities whose differences include – but are not limited to – age, ethnicity, family makeup, gender identity and expression, learning ability, physical ability, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. 
  • Equity

    Equity is achieved by meeting the needs of individuals, ensuring everyone receives the resources, support and opportunities they need to be successful. 

    Nichols School commits to providing fair and impartial opportunities for all through recognizing and actively challenging bias, harassment, and discrimination.
  • Inclusion

    An inclusive environment is one where differences are welcomed, every person feels an authentic sense of belonging, and thoughts, ideas, and perspectives of all individuals matter.
  • Belonging

    Belonging is the feeling of security when there is a sense of acceptance for each individual's complete identity within our school community.

Strategic Vision for Achieving Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

List of 3 items.

  • Students

    All Nichols students will have access to opportunities and customized support. This cultivates their emotional intelligence, creates an authentic sense of identity, and allows them to grow to their full academic potential.
    Read More
  • Faculty and Staff

    All Nichols faculty and staff will be proficient in culturally responsive professional practices, equity literate, and promote anti-racist policies and behaviors.
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  • Institution

    Nichols School will be a welcoming, increasingly more diverse community that prioritizes belonging for all constituencies and supports students, faculty and staff as they pursue their collective growth.
    Read More

Our DEI Story

Thank you to Uplifter Video and the Education Collaborative of WNY for helping tell the story of diversity, equity, and inclusion at Nichols School.

Portrait of a Graduate

In recent years, Nichols faculty and staff worked collaboratively to develop a Portrait of a Nichols Graduate. Consistent with the school's mission and DEI statement, we aspire that all students will grow in mind, body and heart, embrace challenge and discover their unique sense of self.

The Portrait of a Graduate outlines the core competencies Nichols School instills in students to prepare them for the work of life.

Core Competencies of a Nichols Graduate

List of 5 items.

  • Thinking

    Thinking is the ability to assimilate, to understand, and to work with new ideas and information that may be different from one's own. Nichols School students learn to think in the following ways:

    • They locate, gather, and interpret information from a broad range of sources and perspectives, including those that have been historically marginalized.
    • They examine and evaluate the origin and content of information and consider its intent, biases, and omissions.
    • They synthesize information from various sources to develop nuanced understanding.
    • They reflect on their own learning processes to identify new questions, problems, and areas of investigation. 

    Nichols students learn to think so they will be prepared - mind, body, and heart - to live a life of curiosity, thoughtful reflection, nuanced interpretation, and independent reasoning.
  • Communicating

    Communication is the skillful, effective, and respectful exchange of ideas with others. Nichols School students develop communication skills as they are given opportunities to respond to others' ideas with clarity and respect. Nichols students are taught to communicate in the following ways:

    • They seek out and listen actively to a wide variety of opinions and perspectives.
    • They contribute ideas clearly and with attention to audience across a broad range of media and in different contexts.
    • They participate respectfully in open exchange of ideas.
    • They write and receive feedback on their writing frequently and learn to formulate their ideas clearly for different intended audiences.

    Nichols students will be prepared - mind, body, and heart - to listen to others with respect, to be compassionate, and to engage in debate with an open mind.
  • Creating

    Creativity is the ability to imagine and to realize new possibilities. Nichols School students learn to envision and act upon answers to questions, solutions to problems, and artistic inspirations. Nichols students develop creativity in the following ways:

    • They respond critically and imaginatively to existing work, including their own.
    • They identify previously overlooked problems and areas of need and respond with creative solutions.
    • They develop and understand their own creative process.
    • They master the tools and techniques needed to achieve their creative goals.
    • They learn to work collaboratively with others towards common goals.

    Nichols students will be prepared - mind, body, and heart - to add their own unique contributions to society and reflect on the process of their creativity and the impact of their creations.
  • Engaging

    Engagement refers to a Nichols School student's interaction with the community and the world. Nichols students become engaged as they learn to participate actively in their communities. They learn to be open-minded, curious, and informed global citizens in the following ways:

    • They develop an understanding of civics, democracy, and the responsibilities of a citizen.
    • They learn about and develop an appreciation of different cultures, histories, religions, languages, and peoples.
    • They interact with the environment and develop an awareness of the interconnectedness of living beings.
    • They participate in meaningful dialogue with others and reflect critically on varied experiences and perspectives.
    • They promote equity for all people by understanding and responding to the conditions that create, sustain, and maintain inequity.

    Engagement means Nichols students are prepared - mind, body, and heart - to pursue the highest ideals of character and service into a life lived with purpose.
  • Developing

    Development means learning to care for one's own physical, mental, and emotional health. Nichols School students embrace challenge, build character, and nurture a holistic sense of self. Nichols helps students to develop in the following ways:

    • They learn to understand the behaviors that promote lifelong physical, mental, and emotional health.
    • They develop character, resilience, and self-awareness by reflecting meaningfully on their own identities, cultures, values, biases, and privileges, and by taking responsibility for their actions.
    • They actively pursue and cultivate their own interests, passions, and skills.

    Development means Nichols students will be prepared - body, mind, and heart - to pursue a balanced and healthy life. Carrying into all they do the highest ideals of character and service, they will meet our complex and challenging world with confidence, resilience, and empathy.

Our Common Language

Consistent with our core competency of communication is discovering a shared language, a platform on which relationship building stands. Too often, work around inclusion, community, and belonging gets detoured because the same terms may have different meanings depending on who is communicating. The results can be confusion, misunderstanding and distrust.

To that end, we aspire to grow a common language for our community. Building our inclusive language cultivates an environment where all members of our community can engage, create, think, communicate and develop meaningfully and effectively.


List of 6 items.

  • Capacity Building

    Members of our faculty growth coaching team and student support team provide relevant professional development for faculty to successfully implement a multi-tiered system of support to meet the needs of all students. 
    • Professional Development Topics:
      • Equitable Grading
      • Data-Informed Teaching
      • Delivering and Receiving Feedback
      • Equity Literacy 
  • Communication and Feedback

    Ongoing and consistent communication is critical to successfully meeting the needs of all students. Advisors meet weekly with students and are often the first to communicate with students to address any academic or behavioral challenges. Team Leaders meet regularly with Division Heads, Dean of Students, and Social Worker to explore appropriate supports for students. Faculty members communicate concerns with advisors, parents, and team leaders. A regular cycle of communication and feedback allows for a lattice of support that ensures all students can succeed and also feel an authentic sense of belonging. 
  • Data Promoting Equity

    Our Board of Trustees, senior leadership, faculty and staff continues to grow their knowledge assessing and using data. Standardized testing, student and faculty climate surveys, and assessments to measure student growth are utilized to identify gaps, trends, and areas in need of intervention. Continued professional learning is specific to best practices using data.
  • Equitable Processes

    Our Board of Trustees, senior administration, faculty, and staff strive to use data to inform decision making and problem solving. Specifically, our faculty continues to grow in their use of data to improve learning, performance, and outcomes for all students. Data is used to identify and analyze opportunity and achievement gaps as well as inform appropriate interventions. 
    • Sample Interventions:
      • Guided study plans
      • Pre-Referral Intervention Strategies
      • Learning Plans 
  • Multiple Tiers of Support

    Interventions for students are customized and progressively more targeted  depending on student need. Specific interventions are designed to promote student learning, and successful student outcomes.
  • Responsive Leadership

    Our multi-disciplinary student support team (SST) works in collaboration with faculty, staff, and administration to implement a system of support that meets the needs of all students.


Meet Our Director of Inclusivity and Community Building

Dr. Ramone Alexander


Nichols School Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Steering Committee

Thank you to the faculty, staff, and alumni who participated on our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Steering Committee.

List of 8 items.

  • Ramone Alexander

    Director of Inclusivity and Community Building & Upper School History Faculty
  • Amanda Besl

    Upper School Visual Arts Faculty
  • Sarah Jacobson

    Head of Upper School
  • Kristen Kelley

    Upper School Theater Faculty
  • Monica Manney '14

  • Aranya Maritime

    Dean of Academics
  • Cory Shelton

    Middle and Upper School Orchestra Faculty
  • Curt Steinzor

    Technical Director, Flickinger Performing Arts Center

About Us

Nichols School is a nationally recognized college preparatory coed independent school with a 130-year history.
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