Inclusion Advisory Council
Oregon Episcopal School seeks ethical, culturally competent, and visionary individuals to serve as members of the Inclusion Advisory Council. Council members work to advance and promote the commitments outlined in the Oregon Episcopal School’s Diversity and Values Statements.
One of the roles of the Inclusion Advisory Council is to engage the community in dialogue and conversation about equity and inclusion work. The question, "why is equity and inclusion work vital to our school?" was asked to provide multiple visions of why this work is at the heart of our values and mission as a school. It is a reminder, provocation, and invitation for all in our community to engage in considering the why of our equity and inclusion work.
Inclusion Advisory Council Members
Why is equity and inclusion work vital to our school?
Miriam Del Greco
"I believe the OES community should be a safe place for everyone who enters. We are a global community with members from all walks of life who join through the boarding program and Summer Programs as well as our local school community. We strive to make the effort to make each member of our community have their voice heard."
"OES and it students and families are leaders in the community. It is vital that as leaders our understandings of equity and inclusion are always growing. As leaders of institutions this growth of understanding will lead to more equity and inclusion in the wider communities where we live and serve."
"When choosing a school for our children, my husband and I were greatly attracted to the OES mantra of helping students exercise their “power for good.” Although there are numerous ways in which OES offers our children an excellent education, we especially valued the idea of developing the habits of mind that bring about engaged, compassionate individuals who leverage their privilege for social justice.
To be an ally and advocate for those with less power, our children must develop a deep understanding of diversity issues, and of their own social identities and privilege. As such, equity and inclusion work is vital to our school for two reasons. First, it opens us up to new information, perspectives, and experiences. It teaches all of us to recognize the multitude of identities within us and the ways in which these identities bias the manner in which we receive, interpret, and act upon information in the world around us. It helps us to recognize, and take responsibility for, the subtle and not-so-subtle ways in which we reinforce inequalities and harm others. Second, it helps us to build a kinder, more compassionate, and more mindful community in which students, parents, and educators all feel appreciated, respected, and even embraced for the unique life experience and perspective we bring to the community. Feeling seen and genuinely welcomed for who we are will allow all of us to truly connect when we gather as a community."
"As our nation and world become increasingly polarized, it is easy to become complacent--to retreat to the comfort of the company of those who validate our beliefs. While we may welcome diverse perspectives and values, in truth we are more likely to find ourselves surrounded by those who have identities, values and lived experiences similar to our own. This is especially true in exclusive communities like OES.
Effective leaders must be skilled bridge builders who are capable of bridging gaps between, for example, rich and poor; Black and White; and conservative and progressive. In order for students to "realize their power for good," it's critical that we provide them with the will and skill to seek out, empathize with, and even further--consider the truth in--perspectives that directly challenge their own. We must also equip them with knowledge and tools to critically analyze the impact of power and privilege on our current systems, policies and practice so they are well positioned to navigate a rapidly changing, increasingly diverse world.
A sustained investment in diversity, equity and inclusion work is vital to OES's vision of student success."
Kiah Johnson Mounsey
"Equity and inclusion work is vital because it is imperative for OES to be an environment that allows all individuals, adults and students alike, to be able to thrive, succeed, and reach their full potential, despite differences in backgrounds. Creating a culture that fosters respect for all, where every individual feels like they belong, and where injustice does not exist is the first step in developing a truly inclusive and welcoming community."
"Diversity is recognizing that there is potential within each one of us, and inclusion is being able to tap into that energy for everyone’s betterment. At OES, our mission states our commitment to students’ overall development so they may realize their power for good as citizens of local and world communities. This includes learning to be respectful of others’ ideas and beliefs as well as awareness of cultural norms that may be perceived as differences. Directly experiencing another’s point of reference allows us to genuinely connect, and we realize how similar we really are when we see our own stories reflected in the lives of others."
"We commit to providing students an education that provides intellectual, physical, social, emotional, artistic and spiritual growth. Growth in all these areas is enhanced when we are a diverse community. As a community, our ability to create a welcoming environment, connectedness, and thriving will build the trust necessary for people to feel empowered to share their diverse perspectives and lived experiences to enrich our community."
"If I could give our community one gift, it would be the gift of belonging. Because in order for us to truly be a community, it is essential that our students feel welcome to bring all the parts of themselves to school. It is essential for all of our families to feel understood and that they are important."
"OES believes that diversity in our community is essential to the school’s success and is a cornerstone of our presence in the local and global world.” There’s no lip service in that statement: We truly believe it. As a diverse community we create new energy, new ideas, new viewpoints and perspectives; we forge new friendships and we offer new solutions; we learn, we occasionally make mistakes, and we grow. Diversity is the beauty of the world in all facets."
"The health and longevity of any ecosystem lies in its diversity; the same principles apply to communities. If we are going to prepare students to be citizens of global communities, we need to create an OES community that values and embraces diversity of experience, thought, and perspective. We need to listen to the voices that are frequently unheard and understand that “equal” is not the same as “equitable”, so that everyone in our community can reach their full potential."
"When I think about why equity and inclusion work is so vital for our OES community, I think about a quote I read recently, 'The difference between diversity and inclusion is being invited to a house and being able to rearrange the furniture.'
What are the steps we need to take as individuals and as a community so that students and their families, teachers and staff can feel at home and welcome at OES? How can this institution better reflect all the people who are part of this community?"
"I believe strongly that we must be purposeful as an institution in pursuing inclusion work. Having our actions and words in alignment is essential to demonstrating our integrity as a community as well as individuals. It’s one thing to have a statement that declares we believe in something and another to actually live it. The work of creating an inclusive community belongs to everyone!"
"The world is more connected than ever, and that means we're connected to people that are different from us. As globalization brings us closer together, it's important to learn and get practice working with people who come from diverse communities and think in diverse ways. Empathy is such an important skill and I'm excited to help OESians develop those muscles through the lense of justice."