“My goal is to give all students a platform to have their voices heard — here on campus and out in the world,” began Sam Clougher, Director of Equity and Inclusion at Trinity-Pawling.
Clougher joined the School community as a history and economics teacher in the summer of 2017. He also serves as an advisor, dorm parent, and Head Coach for varsity soccer and varsity tennis. Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, Clougher first immigrated to the United States to attend Berkshire for a postgraduate year, and then matriculated at Kenyon College. It was at Kenyon, he said, that he discovered his passion for civic engagement, leadership, and making a difference in a community.
In his second year at Trinity-Pawling, Clougher was appointed as the Director of Equity and Inclusion on campus — a role he cherishes. “For me, the most rewarding aspect is the chance to gain trust with our students from marginalized backgrounds. It’s finding ways, on an individualized basis, to give the boys a chance to air their concerns, joys, thoughts, and emotions,” shared Clougher.
Now in his fourth year at Trinity-Pawling, and in the midst of a civil rights movement in our country, Clougher’s efforts as Director of Equity and Inclusion are more valuable than ever. “Throughout the summer, we held a series of virtual forums for students and faculty to have open conversations, provide necessary support and context to current events, and help each other wrestle with issues of justice and equity,” he shared. Clougher also incorporated discussions on the all-school summer reading, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson.
These forums will continue in-person this Fall Term, with Clougher and other faculty members, including Kent Burnham, Nick LaFontaine, Jim McDougal, Joe Poon, Mike Webber, and others, co-creating the Tough Questions Club. “The club’s main focus is constructive conversation. In small groups, the boys have a chance to talk about those topics that may be difficult or uncomfortable — like injustice, race, and COVID. It’s not about opinions. It’s about listening, reflecting, and learning from one another.”
While it is a tremendous initiative on campus, Clougher shared that the Tough Questions Club is just the beginning. He continues to work closely with School leadership, fellow faculty, and students to create a positive long-term vision for equity and inclusion at Trinity-Pawling. Although COVID regulations have caused a bit of a roadblock at this time, he looks forward to the future, when the School can host on-campus speakers, relevant movie viewings, training sessions, community programming, and more. In the meantime, Clougher presses onward — hosting small, constructive group discussions within among the students and faculty.
“This school is a wonderful place that helps students from all backgrounds and has done so for many years,” Clougher concluded. “While we can celebrate how much we’ve done, we also recognize how much more we still can — and will — do. We have an incredible group of faculty and students stepping up to do just that.”
by Emma Christiantelli