Evergreen School District names Klarissa Hightower executive director of equity and inclusion


Five years ago, the Evergreen School Board adopted an equity and inclusion focus

The Evergreen School District has named Klarissa Hightower as the district’s new executive director of equity and inclusion.

Klarissa Hightower, who has served as Shahala Middle School associate principal for the last two years, will lead the development of a vision and overall direction for a district-wide equity action plan that is designed to champion the importance and value of a diverse and inclusive environment. Photo courtesy of Evergreen Public Schools
Klarissa Hightower, who has served as Shahala Middle School associate principal for the last two years, will lead the development of a vision and overall direction for a district-wide equity action plan that is designed to champion the importance and value of a diverse and inclusive environment. Photo courtesy of Evergreen Public Schools

Five years ago, the Evergreen School Board adopted an equity and inclusion focus. Over the last several years, there has been examination, study and initiatives introduced to help move all students and staff toward common beliefs and standards. With the events of the last several weeks, the passion and urgency for addressing educational inequities and improving the lives of students and families has become overwhelmingly apparent. To ensure this focus remains a top priority, Tuesday night, members of the district’s School Board and Superintendent Mike Merlino appointed Hightower to her new position.

Hightower, who has served as Shahala Middle School associate principal for the last two years, will lead the development of a vision and overall direction for a district-wide equity action plan that is designed to champion the importance and value of a diverse and inclusive environment. 

Hightower brings school-level and district equity work experience from her time at Portland Public Schools as a teacher, administrator and assistant director of English as a Second Language. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish Literature from Georgia State University as well as a Master of Education degree in Reading, Language, & Literacy and earned her administrative credentials from Portland State University.

“As I witness what has been historically impossible, now taking shape locally and nationally right in front of my eyes, my heart is filled with hope. This hope births action and that action creates change. I am so honored to serve my community in leading this change,” said Hightower.

Hightower will begin with an equity audit to help develop district-wide policies, practices and procedures to provide transparency on how decisions and policies impact equity. She will also help convene and work with an Equity Committee comprised of community and district stakeholders to draft an Equity Transformation Plan with measurable outcomes. 

“Klarissa’s experience and passion in creating collaborative dialogues and solutions will help guide a process that is accessible, fair and relevant to our students and staff. We are excited to begin this work under her leadership,” said Merlino.

Information provided by Evergreen Public Schools.

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