Mrs. King of equity

Gabrielle Parrish, Editor-in-chief

“I don’t live life neutrally. It’s really hard for me not to care, and I believe the only way to commit to something is by committing fully,” English teacher Joan King said.

Promoting equity and diversity within the community is one issue that King is passionate about and has wholeheartedly devoted her time to. She spends her free time studying diversity and inclusion, attending webinars hosted by American University, watching documentaries, and reading about the subject. 

“I believe part of living a quality life is being empathetic and thinking of other people,” King said. “If other people are feeling oppressed or unheard, there’s no way that I would feel right in my own conscience if I continued living in ignorance.”

Within Liberty, King seeks to bring about change as the equity leader for Liberty’s teacher union and has created both a student equity club and a teacher equity committee.

“The teacher equity committee is brand new, and right now we’re doing a lot of learning. It’s also important that we provide a kind of a sounding board for the student committee and for us to be ears so that when students speak, they know that there is a group of teachers listening, especially in a smaller setting,” English teacher and committee member Jennifer Dragavon said. 

By creating these groups, King hopes to foster positive change at Liberty,see more educators of color on the staff,  and create a more trusting relationship between staff and students of all backgrounds.

King’s tenacity stems from her philanthropic values, but for her the cause is also more personal than that.

“As a person of color in this country, I feel as though it’s my duty to pave the way for others in whatever way possible. I’m also the mother of a mixed kid and want to be a role model for him,” King said. “I’m constantly thinking about what his future will look like and the effect he’s going to have on other peoples. If I can teach him to be an advocate for unheard voices, then I feel like my job would be done.”

The Covid-19 pandemic hasn’t hindered her endeavors. If anything, the transition to working online has enabled her to pursue more work to promote equity because her schedule is more flexible now that meetings and events are virtual.

Her active approach to tackling societal issues sets a positive example for others, and it’s clear how rewarding she finds her work.

“It’s more than a job for her,” Dragavon said. “It’s a passion, a kind of calling if you will.”