From the Desk: Leading With Clarity Amidst Transitions

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From the Desk of the Superintendent

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Leading With Clarity Amidst Transitions

Dear Oakland Community,


I start my first day as Interim Superintendent during a challenging time of transition for both our District and country. There is no school district I would rather represent right now than Oakland Unified; last month, OUSD renewed our steadfast Sanctuary District Resolution which makes us a value-based leader nationwide as we stand behind all of our students and ensure refugee and immigrant students continue to thrive in our schools regardless of immigration status. This is who we are and what we believe in.

Sanctuary district graphic

Transition is always difficult. I once did a month long meditation retreat where I spent most of the time in silence. With all that time to think and not speak, I learned how powerful thoughts and words can be and how to honor each one that comes forward. I also learned how jarring transition typically is. Leaving the retreat center, I pulled up to a stoplight and saw a homeless man standing on the corner. I remember seeing him in a way that shook my entire core. I could feel his pain, his hunger, his desperation. Transition is like that…it heightens your senses and opens you up to fear and potential at the same time.  

The advice I was given as part of meditation instruction during that retreat is relevant to where I find myself today: “Slow down. Take each moment as it comes. Focus on what is right in front of you and how you experience each new person and experience.” This wisdom has allowed me to reflect on my intentions as Interim Superintendent as well as appreciate the full transition in my role for all of the new things it brings.

DD with students

I want to share the key highlights from my 90-day plan so you understand my approach to the work ahead:

  • Phase 1, Listening and Learning: Assess our District and create opportunities for diverse perspectives to be heard in order to learn and build strong, collaborative, productive relationships with all stakeholders.
  • Phase 2, Reaffirming our Commitment to Excellence: Identify quick wins and reaffirm our commitment to the Pathway to Excellence by deepening my knowledge of the District's goals beyond the Academic division and the broader community. Share data about our progress towards targets.
  • Phase 3, Communicating and Aligning: Share information and accomplishments in order to ensure an efficient and structured transition of leadership based in internal communication that is clear.

We must come together at this time of transition to better our school system and build on our shared values and our love of OUSD. I am looking forward to deepening my work in this community over the next five months and demonstrating my personal commitments to our students, teachers and families:

  • Open communication internally and with the community at large;
  • Clarity of vision that ensures our students are successful;
  • Healing to rebuild trust and transparency.

Thank you for supporting the core values we embrace at OUSD. As an educator and mother, I want to nurture the joy, integrity and cultural responsiveness I see at work in our classrooms. As a leader, I am here to promote equity and excellence in every aspect of our District. Above all else, we must constantly remember the reason that we are here: to put our students first.

In partnership,

Devin Dillon Signature

Devin Dillon
Interim Superintendent


i am ousd values