WARREN, Mich. – De La Salle Collegiate’s first Director of Diversity and Inclusion is no stranger to Catholic education.
A former science teacher at the University of Detroit Jesuit and Academy, Marta Rhea-Johnson has been appointed to De La Salle’s newly-formed position.
“I love the mission of developing the intellectual minds and character of bright young men,” Rhea-Johnson said. “The mission is similar to De La Salle’s in many ways. While at UDJ, I also served as the moderator of B.A.S.E., the black student organization. I plan to bring this type of organization to De La Salle to meet the needs, support, and showcase De La Salle’s minority population.
“In this next chapter I’d like to see De La Salle move past mere racial tolerance and unconscious bias and begin to build authentic relationships within its harmonious community.”
The reality is schools can’t continue to let students, who are not in the majority, sit in discomfort. President John M. Knight is committed to making sure that there are programs and policies in place for all students to feel comfortable.
“I am very happy to welcome Marta Rhea-Johnson to our community,” Knight said. “I know Marta to be a person of deep faith who cares about all of God’s children. Marta’s many gifts and talents will be a blessing to our community.”
Rhea-Johnson spent five years at UD-Jesuit before taking the role as administrator and head of school at Friends School in Detroit (2011-15). She also served as an integrated science instructor at Detroit Public Schools (1995-2000). Rhea-Johnson has a bachelor’s degree from Atlanta’s Spelman College, and a Master’s in Education from University of Detroit Mercy.
Her experiences as a teacher and administrator has allowed Rhea-Johnson to meet and work with a variety of people from different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds, the Detroit business community, and many fields of education.
“My strong beliefs in God and love for children fuel my passion for understanding and justice,” she said. “I have learned that love is universal and it binds us all together. When we are diligent and follow God’s plan we never fail. All my experience, talents and connections will be used to increase De La Salle’s awareness of diversity, inclusion and equity, its importance, and advance its commitment to it.”
Rhea-Johnson will report to the school president while being an important leader in the De La Salle community. Acting as a resource and partner, she will work individually and collectively with students, administrators, faculty, staff, and parents to nurture and strengthen an inclusive and culturally responsive environment.
In short, she will seek to be a leader with the creativity, courage, empathy, and wisdom to build on the very good work already being done, envision what is possible, and implement change at the institutional, interpersonal and individual levels.
“De La Salle has great potential for embracing diversity, inclusion and equity,” she said. “This addition will make the school community more harmonious and empathetic to the needs and talents of its total community. Inclusion will allow for the opportunity to understand and embrace the differences among us and build authentic relationships. … This forward thinking in actions and policy will allow De La Salle to take its place as a leader among its counterparts in the educational community.”