June 16, 2022

The Year in DEIB

Toyin Augustus
Toyin Augustus / Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging

Dearest Oakwood,

Thank you for welcoming me this year into a community of committed and involved adults looking to do their very best for the young learners in our collective care. It has been a tumultuous year and I have learned so much about what makes Oakwood special. My colleagues have modeled a culture of flexibility and care that gave space for us to support each other through many challenging moments. Parents and guardians gave generously of their time and resources to support numerous functions and events that uplift our community and bring joy to our young learners. The most recent being the final heritage celebration of the year where the elementary school amplified and uplifted the history and culture of our beloved LGBTQ community through PRIDE. Students on both campuses impressed me with insights, perspectives, and actions that drove necessary changes in institutional practices. And as we reflected upon and navigated the ever-familiar tragedies of violence, oppression, sickness, harm, and many other ills, I am grateful for all the ways we moved forward and through it together.

As I began this journey 10 months ago, I aimed to encourage the appreciation and celebration of self and others, while activating immersive learning that drives us to take action toward justice. Despite the many complications presented by COVID safety protocols and social separation, we found success in large and small ways throughout the school year. Together we grappled with understanding and evaluating processes, and expanding upon many of the existing structures and systems for involving our entire Oakwood community in this DEIB journey. We continue to ask critical questions such as, “How do we navigate the importance of intersectional identity in our diversity efforts?” “How do power and privilege create or perpetuate inequities in our current practices?” and “What does belonging really look like at Oakwood, particularly for community members who are least proximate to dominant cultures?”

We modeled this curiosity and criticality as we made decisions that led to many of the accomplishments highlighted in this presentation, an overview of the structure and successes of our community’s DEIB efforts. Grounded by our Statement of Philosophy and covered by our DEIB Mission Statement, the office of DEIB seeks to build through-lines that connect our community to each other, and the various topics and programs we offer. Our collective accomplishments are significant and I look forward to continued partnership on this journey.

Next school year will bring fresh possibilities and we invite you to join us in building that future! As you move into the summer months, may you find renewed joy, deeper connections, and much rest. Happy Junetheenth and we’ll see you in September! Hooty-hoot, Owls!