Erika Freeman: Poly’s New Head of DEIB


Mac Coleman, Contributing Writer

Diversity is one of Poly’s essential pillars. Biology teacher Erika Freeman became the head of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging at Poly at the start of the 2022-2023 school year following the departure of Dr. Omari Keeles. Freeman has been a teacher at Poly for twenty-eight years. In the past, she has been an advisor to clubs, a dean, and has done many other activities outside of her teaching. 

Freeman delivered an introductory speech earlier this fall to the highschool detailing her hopes for DEIB at Poly. The DEIB curriculum this year will consist of the affinity and alliance groups, along with the occasional assembly during assembly block. These affinity and alliance groups will be mandatory for all upper school students unless they choose to participate in a discussion group. Freeman made it clear that there will be no assemblies during the DEIB block. 

“The whole first assembly was to introduce myself and to present everyone the options you have and choices you can make in how to spend your time. If one of the affinity and alliance groups is not something you feel you have an affinity for or an alliance to, I think the discussion groups are definitely a worthwhile option,” Freeman explained.

Freeman then emphasized the need for a DEIB curriculum. “For me, thinking about how many different kinds of people we are at school is actually important, it matters outside of classroom spaces, because who you are impacts how you act wherever you are.” 

Freeman also stated that she wants the community and the school at large to promote conversations amongst people with similar and different perspectives outside of a traditional academic class. DEIB can also be used to understand the greater picture of how to approach conversations with depth, learn about different people and specific topics, and  hope that it will have a greater positive impact on how students interact with the world. 

“If diversity is one of the pillars of Poly’s program then we can not just be diverse because we are all different. We actually have to be diverse and talk about and learn from one another so that we can continually grow,” Freeman said.

Freeman also wants people to be in spaces that are important to them, and spaces in which they will be actively engaged in. Freeman ended by saying that she is looking forward to hearing more student perspectives and hopefully seeing the change she wants to create.