Our North Star

All families across Oakland’s 78 square miles know their children will realize their full brilliance and potential at every public school in any neighborhood. Our community continually takes collective responsibility to reimagine, create, and improve a public education system where success is not predicated by race and class.
Home / Blog / HEROES Profile- Kareem Weaver

HEROES Profile- Kareem Weaver

HEROES Profile      September, 2015     by : Gloria Lee

Hellaawesome Educators

Revitalizing Oakland Education for Students

“My favorite part is getting people to take up the mantle of leadership and take responsibility for young people.”

Did you grow up in Oakland? If not, what brought you to Oakland?

I grew up in Richmond and had family there and in Oakland; this area has always been home for me. I went to Morehouse in Atlanta and then to South Carolina for a few years, but I decided to come back home and try to make a difference.

 What is your connection to Oakland Education?

How would you describe your role in the community?


I serve Oakland education by developing leadership within the schools and in the community. I serve as the Executive Director for New Leaders in the Bay Area, Commission Chair for OABE (Oakland Alliance of Black Educators), and on the NAACP’s Education Committee. In each role, I keep the focus on being a straight-shooting, clear-minded, advocate for kids.

——————————
——————————

…we need people who can lead us into insecure places and bring us safely to the other side.

What are your favorite aspects of your job? 

I love challenging people and organizations to get out of their comfort zones. Everybody talks about wanting change, but few have the appetite for it. I read a book called ‘Change or Die’ which told how heart patients usually went back to their unhealthy lifestyle even though they knew it would kill them. They knew better, but they just couldn’t change. I look at school the same way, it is in our nature to resist change; we need people who can lead us into insecure places and bring us safely to the other side. My favorite part is getting people to take up the mantle of leadership and take responsibility for young people.

Share one or two career highlights in which you believe you made an impact.

During my first year of teaching, I ‘negotiated’ with some young men to keep my students safe. Rather than recruit and pressure my students to a life in the streets, they agreed to leave them alone. The promises were kept. And while life hasn’t been easy for those former 5th graders, they are alive – and now in their 30’s.
Being the principal of Lazear Elementary allowed me to support a school community. The staff and parents had decided they were open to change, and worked tirelessly to improve the school. Student achievement shot up, and it became a place where kids and adults could learn and grow.
 

What from your background do you believe led you to do what you do now?

I had my own business at 9 years old, started in horrible schools but was later given a chance to attend one of the best schools in the country, and developed an abiding faith and indomitable work ethic. All of those things led me to do what I do now. I’m industrious and working hard to make quality education available to everyone not just those who are given “A Better Chance”.
Also, at an early age I learned to interact with people from different cultures and races. I don’t think you can be in my line of work without being reasonably comfortable with people from different walks of life.
 

What do you love most about Oakland?

Oakland is a hard-working town. It’s a place where many people have a job and a side-hustle to pay their bills. It’s a place where elders are respected and consciousness is valued. It’s a port city with trains, cranes, and “ain’t that a shames”. I love its history and its future. Most importantly, I met my wife in Oakland.

 

 What motivates you?

Faith and love.

 

 

What do you like to do in your free time?

I’ve coached my daughter’s softball team for 5 years. This summer I was an assistant coach for her Oakland Vipers softball tournament team. Having said that, I don’t see time as “free”; every second I breathe was paid for at great cost.

 

Kareem’s passion for providing students and families with high quality educational experiences has driven his success as a leader in Oakland. His teaching, school leadership, and district partner leadership have all been informed by these values. Currently, he works to partner with us to make sure all students have a high quality principal leading their schools. His dedication to making it work on behalf of Oakland students has allowed us to build more effective school leadership pipelines. Aaron Townsend

Deputy Chief, Talent Management, Oakland Unified School District

Deciding what you want to be is important, but deciding what kind of person you want to be is much more important.

 

What is your best advice to young people?

 

Don’t be so open-minded that the common sense falls out your head.

Big dreams need tight habits to become reality.

Never make anger or grief your most prized possession.
Never confuse being broke and being poor.

Choose your own heroes and goals… and choose wisely.

Choose people who see more in you than you see in yourself.

You are the one most responsible for your life. Own it.

If you were to reimagine public education in Oakland,what would that vision look like?

Commit to mastering the art of questioning. Students must develop skills to examine and evaluate the world around them: technological and media, institutional, financial, moral, political, environmental, communal and relational.

If you were to reimagine public education in Oakland,what would that vision look like?

Each school would have good, highly-trained leadership that helps create conditions and systems for teachers and students to thrive.

If you were to reimagine public education in Oakland,what would that vision look like?

The delivery systems of education, within Oakland, would be diverse and much less important than the outcomes produced.

If you were to reimagine public education in Oakland,what would that vision look like?

Sports and Arts: Reimagine OAL, extend it K-12, Partner with local Sports Foundations, Parks and Rec, and Non-Profits.

If you were to reimagine public education in Oakland,what would that vision look like?

Use assessments as the beginning of instruction, not just the end. Teachers must see and understand the road map to proficiency.

If you were to reimagine public education in Oakland,what would that vision look like?

Every adult teaches reading; every child learns a second language.

If you were to reimagine public education in Oakland,what would that vision look like?

Delivery systems (schools) split operational from instructional responsibility.

If you were to reimagine public education in Oakland,what would that vision look like?

Personalized learning, leveraging people and technology, begins in first grade.

If you were to reimagine public education in Oakland,what would that vision look like?

Tie educator salaries to a 5-year index of county home prices.

If you were to reimagine public education in Oakland,what would that vision look like?

Longer school day, and more of them.

If you were to reimagine public education in Oakland,what would that vision look like?

Real-time portal for parents showing academic and social information (along with community resources). Enrollment team supports and monitors, community groups help identify need for the types of information and supports with training.

If you were to reimagine public education in Oakland,what would that vision look like?

Creating gaming conditions for kids to learn from their mistakes.

If you were to reimagine public education in Oakland,what would that vision look like?

Common Enrollment and partnering with city. “Not choosing” a school for your child sets off a tight web of social alarms.

If you were to reimagine public education in Oakland,what would that vision look like?

Principal and teacher training programs report the student achievement results of their trainees.

60 Seconds with Kareem Weaver

Know any Oakland HEROES?

If you know of any HEROES in your school community to feature, let us know!