Highlighting Black Leaders in Education Equity

As we wrap up Black History Month for this year, we are highlighting the transformative work of three Black consultants in the education equity space who inspire us by creating belonging through their work – Matthew Reynolds, Kirsten Harris-Tally, and Teddy McGlynn-Wright.

Matthew Reynolds (they/he/we), is a practitioner of equity and healing, author, facilitator, and educator. We met Matthew through our work with schools and districts in Southern Oregon. We are also looking forward to co-learning with them at the upcoming SOREN (Southern Oregon Regional Education Network) Advisory Committee retreat to be held this March.

How does having a background in education & Social-Emotional Learning inform your equity work?

MR: I’m a firm believer that the past is our education. So, if I’m acknowledging being a life-long learner and having a growth mindset while recognizing the fixed mindsets I uphold in my life, and those I’m dismantling, my freedom work and anti-oppression work melds itself into equity.

When I look at equity, rolled into it is humanity-led, inclusion, and shining a light where dehumanization is occurring in my life.

When I look at education and SEL, those ideas to me are based on humanity. [They are based on] a human being feeding their brain just as we feed our belly to nourish our body. Our brains help us balance the trifecta: mind, body, and human spirit. Ancestors help guide us in what we do. Being able to move through that idea of our past is our education. I take skills I’ve nurtured to bring to any setting I’m facilitating now to help folks land in a place that is authentic to them so we can uproot some of those indoctrinations and start the healing process. 

Read Matthew’s tips for how educators can co-create equitable learning communities, as well as more about their work in the education equity space.

Kirsten Harris-Talley (she/her) and Teddy McGlynn-Wright (he/him) are the team at In the Works Consulting, where they focus on Belonging-Based Facilitation with organizations and groups. BELONG Partners is currently working with Kirsten and Teddy on our organizational racial equity journey.

How does equity work contribute to creating belonging in communities?

When it comes to othering and belonging, equity work is about creating the conditions for everyone to belong. If folks can’t fully participate, then they don’t belong. When we put barriers in place effectively it communicates folks don’t belong. They are ‘other.’ When equity is centered, folks can speak up, be their whole selves, name the things that need to be named, and come together in times of crisis and care.

What is your intention behind supporting equity work in the education field and/or with BELONG Partners?

At some point every individual interacts with our education system, and not all of us experience belonging there. The traumas of capitalism, racism, and various ways of othering are deeply a part of our education systems. And so is collective action, equity and social catalyst movements. And we must work to heal the trauma as we build the new. We believe in building a present now for a future where we all thrive. BELONG Partners is centering racial equity and justice into all they do, to make the changes needed for all to belong in our schools.

Find more information about In the Works and Kirsten and Teddy here.