The OES community was virtually visited by New York Times bestselling author, educator, and activist Renée Watson last week. Watson read a few of her poems and book excerpts and shared her experiences growing up in Portland and how those encounters inspire her writing.
“Renée is such an engaging speaker in so many ways,” Parent Partnership Chair Michelle Tubbs said. “She has an ability to relate to her audience so well through the telling of her own life experiences growing up and her current work with youth. I discovered such wisdom in practically every word.”
Moderated by social justice educator Cierra Kaler-Jones, around 200 teachers, staff, students, and parents attended the webinar.
“I was especially moved by Renée’s comments about how we must do ‘the work of love, not just the word of love,’” said Tubbs. “Her message was a gentle reminder of the importance of empathy and kindness as we seek to understand one another and honor the story each of us brings to the world.
“I came away from the experience so inspired in the ways I can and must continue to grow as a human being,” Tubbs continued. “I also found myself full of hope for our community, for our country, for our world. She is a critically important voice for us to hear.”
Faculty and students read Watson's book Piecing Me Together in 2017, followed by a visit from Watson that was equally as inspiring as last week’s event.
“The opportunity to have writers, scholars, and thinkers of the quality and insight of Renée Watson at OES, speaking to our greater community, is a gift,” Head of School Mo Copeland said. “Renée's story of discovery—that she is a writer and she has these gifts to share—is truly inspiring. Her ability to ground big, challenging, current issues around race and education and opportunity in stories that are compelling, true, and moving is so remarkable. Her words inspire and speak to us all.
“A huge thank you to Dyan Watson, our Director for Inclusion, for bringing Renée back to OES for further conversation."
Photo Credit: Shawnte Sims