A Message from Supt. Dr. Lance Gibbon
Dear Oak Harbor Families and Staff,
Today, I write to you with shared grief and pain. The heartbreaking news of George Floyd’s killing and the fallout underscore a plague of racism and harm experienced regularly by our communities of color. Sadly, Mr. Floyd’s tragic death is just one of many that have caused emotional trauma. His death and the protests that followed are powerful reminders that we have much work left to do to address racism and inequities all around us.
I believe one of the greatest strengths of our community is its diversity. Our student body is over 40% students of color. We continue to stand with all of our students, especially our Black students, during this time of intense emotion and oftentimes, fear. I want our students, families, and communities of color in Oak Harbor and beyond to know that we see you, we respect you and we support you. As a school community, we value your voices and are here to listen to your stories and learn from your experiences.
Oak Harbor is certainly not immune to the challenges facing our nation. Now, more than ever we must continue to educate ourselves, our children, and each other about our shared history, no matter how hard it may be. In fact, I think one of the best lessons our children can take from the COVID-19 pandemic is that adults do not always have the right answers or respond the right way.
While our nation is grieving and wondering what’s next, I am encouraged by our early work around equity in Oak Harbor Public Schools. This year, we created equity teams in each of our buildings to help foster cultural awareness and to understand injustices in our systems. Our staff participated in impactful trainings but these efforts only scratch the surface. We know there is much work ahead.
What can we do? We can begin by listening to the stories and experiences of those outside our social circles and friend groups. We can be curious and learn more about the history of race and culture in America with an open mind. It takes courage and a willingness to seek and try to understand others’ perspectives. The conversations we must have in our schools and community may be uncomfortable and difficult, but they are critical for both our current and future students.
You entrust us every day with your precious children. For their sake, you have my pledge that our district will continue to improve our own equity, diversity, and inclusion work. I hope that our love for our neighbors and our passion to stand up against racism will define Oak Harbor and positively impact our community and nation. Our children’s future depends on our willingness to have tough discussions, recognize our biases, and commit to treating one another with kindness and respect.
There’s tremendous uncertainty in our world right now and much is outside of our control but we can control what we do, what we say, and how we respond. Oak Harbor is a special place that unites families from around the globe through the mission of the Navy and a desire to live in such a beautiful area. Working together, I believe that if equity can be achieved anywhere, Oak Harbor students, staff, and families can lead the way.
Dr. Lance Gibbon, Superintendent