Our Story

Justice in Action

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Community Engaged Learning
We will focus on three priorities to build on our strength and become a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive school community:
  • Recruit, support, and retain families, students, faculty, and staff from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.  
  • Ensure that our academic program reflects all of our students’ experiences in order to educate global citizens.
  • Create an environment for authentic conversations and relationships between people from different backgrounds.
Community Engaged Learning combines place, personal relationship and common interest to inspire intent and action for positive change. It provides a vehicle for place- and service-based education and reflection that prepares students for civic engagement. We connect students to the city around us to expand their academic opportunities and to build a sense of connection to the Oakland community. Community Engaged Learning is the intersection of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, academics and community. 

Educator Spotlight: Christopher Lee

Fourth Grade Teacher CJ Lee
Christopher Lee (CJ) was born in Oakland, CA to a multiracial family (his mother is white and his father is Black and Cherokee). CJ and his two brothers grew up in the bustling, urban streets of Oakland and attended public schools. They spent their summers in slower, rural towns in Kentucky and Alabama. CJ went to Kansas State University to play basketball and upon graduation he taught for a year on a military base in Kansas before returning to Oakland to continue his teaching career. 

Following are edited excerpts from an interview with Mr. Lee:

Why education?
Truly, I never wanted to enter education. I did not have strong relationships with teachers and didn’t feel like they really knew or understood me. However, from a young age I realized that I had a skill to connect and lead children. I started by taking care of my younger brother and his brother’s friends, getting praise for how engaged they were. Soon after, I started working at Sarah's Science (This Land is Your Land) Camp. Although not hired as a camp counselor, parents were soon signing their kids up to be in my camp group and Sarah (the namesake and camp founder) started referring to me as teacher. I decided that teaching would break the mold of what I knew.

What outcome are you looking for in your practice?
I am looking to create more social- racial- and sexuality-conscious students, who approach the world ready to fight for and defend their rights and the rights of others.

What are you proud of?
I am proud of the curriculum I have been able to create and build at St. Paul's with the help of Hugh Rodman, my former partner. I am proud of my work with Black boys and the way they feel the love, support, and safety in their work and time with me. I am proud of the work that we are doing on the DEI team as we work to make activism and antiracism work more of a staple at St. Paul's.

What compels you to activism?
My life is activism. Everyday as a college educated, forward moving Black father, coach and teacher I am actively setting an example for Black children, displaying a view of Black men that contradicts what white kids have heard and learned about. Pushing back against those stereotypes.

Where would we see social & antiracist justice in your practice?
My curriculum is centered around principals of the Black Panther Party and building community and connection, each one teach one, and communal learning. All of our social studies units focus on unrepresented voices. We study World War II through the lens of women riveters, Blacks soldiers, Mexican braceros, Navajo code talkers, and interned Japanese citizens.  We celebrate the cultures in the classroom and tease out their unique voices, experiences and views into the classroom culture. In my class, we never shy away from honest discussion about discrimination, bias, racism, sexism, ageism, etc.

I run a Black boy breakfast with Eighth graders as a part of a larger proposed program for Black boys. There I hold a space for connection, discussions around world events, emotions about school, and topic explorations about: police brutality, relationship with Black mothers, powerful books to read, racism, and tools for survival.

I also run a race conversation elective with Mr. Kasling.

- December 2020


Examples of Community Engaged Learning at St. Paul's
Eighth Grade Capstone Project: student-led annual projects  

Seventh Grade Service Learning:
  • Farm-to-Market: Lake Merritt Gardens school plot and St. Paul's Episcopal Church market harvest
  • Small Trans childcare support
  • Lake Merritt Art and Science Center program support
Sixth Grade Studies:
  • Lake Merritt Water Quality: Clean-up, Watershed Walk, Data Collection & Citizen Science Display
  • Farm Workers' Unit: letter-writing campaign
  • Civilization unit: Field trip to Burning Man, Oakland Museum of California and Alum-led choreography lesson
Fifth Grade Studies: Advocacy and Activism (see video below)

Fourth Grade Studies: 
  • Black Panther Party unit
  • Waste Audit/Davis Street Transfer Station field trip
Third Grade Bird Census unit

Second Grade Studies:
  • Swim Walk to YMCA
  • Last Stop on Grand Avenue neighborhood book project
  • Kindness rocks
Chapel Presentations
STEAM projects (Recycled Fashion, Jam Session on the Green)
Middle School community art exhibits
Family Service Day
Fifth Grade students working through their Civil Rights unit join the World Climate movement in 2018 and march to Oakland City Hall in demonstration. Sixth graders learn about and advocate for pollinators by distributing seeds and habitat material in our neighborhood.
Antiracism and Social Justice at St. Paul's
To engage with the world, we need to know about it. The musical approach at St. Paul’s is not only inclusive, but gives our students an awareness of cultural sounds beyond the European canon. For a “window in” to music class, check out this video of our Director of Music, Guy de Chalus, as he introduces students to Djeliya music from West Africa.
St. Paul's Episcopal School
116 Montecito Avenue
Oakland, CA 94610