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Delaware Valley Friends School is pleased to announce the addition of Nic James as the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Nic will serve on the Academic Leadership Committee and Administrative Team at DVFS. With his addition, Delaware Valley Friends becomes the first school for students with learning differences in the Philadelphia area with an administrative position dedicated to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
Nic began his career teaching English and Social Studies at the Middle School level and serving as a diversity coordinator before entering the realm of school leadership in several independent schools in the Philadelphia area. Nic comes to DVFS most recently from the Crefeld School, where he was the Assistant Head of School.
"My background in both small school and Quaker school communities, coupled with my own passion to do leadership work in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion made the opportunity at DVFS very attractive," Nic shared. "I'm a firm believer that one's focus on her/his passions opens up possibilities and I could not be more excited that this particular possibility became an outcome for me."
When asked why he thought diversity, equity and inclusion work is so important in independent schools today, Nic recalled an article he read about 10 years ago by NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools) which suggested that "diversity was not included in the list of 22 challenging aspects of the job that heads of school were asked to rate." This came as quite a shock to Nic because, at every level of his school experience, as a student and as a professional, issues of diversity were challenges for his peers and colleagues. A young teacher at the time, Nic was appointed clerk of his school's diversity and equity committee. It was his first school leadership opportunity, which very quickly became his passion. As a student of color from an independent school and a faculty member of color in an independent school, Nic quickly recognized that in this role, he could be an advocate and a support for fairness and equity -- with both students and colleagues. To see that role elevated to an administrative position at Delaware Valley Friends presents an opportunity to further fulfill that vision. Nic commented, "To me, having true administrative leadership in the area of DEI shows a strong value for and an authentic dedication from the school to seeing ongoing improvement among all of the school's community members: students, families, faculty, staff, administration and the board."
Head of School Kirk Smothers added, "Diversity, equity and inclusion have long-been priorities at Delaware Valley Friends School. Nic's appointment on our senior academic and administrative team underscores our community's commitment to recognizing and supporting the unique contributions and needs of students, families, faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds. As a national leader among schools that serve students who learn differently and a model Friends (Quaker) school, DVFS is working to remain at the forefront of this critically important work at a time when our nation seems increasingly fractured. Nic's experience, insights, and thoughtful approach are ideally suited to help guide our community as we play our role to establish a more inclusive and equitable society for all people."
Nic will be supported by DVFS's long-term Diversity Coordinator and 2016 Diversity Practitioners Medal of Honor winner Tom Lees, who will continue as the Associate Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the school.