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November 8, 2016 — California General Election
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Oakland Unified School DistrictCandidate for School Director, Trustee Area 3

Photo of Kharyshi "Ms K" Wiginton

Kharyshi "Ms K" Wiginton

Youth Development Coordinator
9,810 votes (47.6%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • I want to raise literacy rates in our community by providing universal Pre-K
  • I want to end the privatization of our public school system and the influence of GO Public Schools
  • I want to create authentic, ongoing community engagement and put the "public" back into public schools



Profession:Community Programs Manager/Youth Development Specialist
Community Programs Manager, Alternatives in Action (2015–current)
Youth Leadership Coordinator, Alternatives in Action (2012–2015)


Kharyshi Wiginton is a “youth magnet” who is passionate about empowering young people to effect change and lead their communities. She is a 41 year old native of Southern California. Born and raised in Pomona, she is rooted in the values of community. Her core values are informed by 3 quotes: “I am because we are...We are because I am,” “Each one teach one,” and “It takes a village to raise a child.” She believes in youth voice and thinks that if we are serious about strengthening the educational system, young people have to be at the center of that conversation with a loud and powerful voice.


Kharyshi is an artist and an educator. She is a graduate of California State University, San Bernardino with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in theatre arts and dance, and she has a Master of Fine Arts (MFA)in Creative Inquiry from California Institute of Integral Studies. She has devoted her life to young people; honing her skills in both student development theory and youth development theory. She has spent over 20 years working in education; devoting many of her professional years to institutions such as Cal State San Bernardino, Cal Poly Pomona, UC Riverside, and the University of La Verne. Additionally, she spent almost a decade working in Children’s Center at Idyllwild Arts Summer Program.


One of Kharyshi’s greatest accomplishments came in 2003 when she served as Artistic Director for Equal Opportunity Productions. That same year she accompanied 12 youth and 7 mentors to South Africa for an international cultural exchange project. While there, she was the Artistic Director for Soze II, a youth show that was created and toured throughout the Johannesburg area.


Kharyshi is very passionate about education that takes place beyond the classroom. In 2014, she working in partnership with Youth Together and the Alliance for Educational Justice to take youth from Oakland to Mississippi for the 50th Anniversary of Freedom Summer. During that project, she was able to take 10 girls from McClymonds to join the caravan of 6 youth from Castlemont High School and 2 students from Emery High. In July 2015, Kharyshi spearheaded her own project, “MACK to Africa,” where she was able to take 10 girls from McClymonds High School to South Africa for 10 days.


Kharyshi has been an Oakland resident for the past 10 years. During her time in the Bay, she has worked at elementary, middle, and high schools throughout Oakland; including Santa Fe Elementary,  Saint Elizabeth High School, and Rudsdale Continuation School. For the past 7 years, she has been living and working in West Oakland. She is deeply committed to McClymonds High School where she has spent the last 5 years developing students and running youth programs as a part of her roles as the Youth Leadership Coordinator and now the Community Programs Manager.


Kharyshi is passionate about improving the lives of youth, women, and Black people, and she will continue to be in service to her community and honor her people. She is a member of Black Lives Matter Bay Area, the Black Arts Movement Business District, the Lower Bottom Playaz, and an organizing member of the “State of Black Oakland.” During her tenure at McClymonds, she has served on the McClymonds Youth and Family Center Advisory Board, ONE West Oakland, and was a member and chair of the West Oakland Health and Safety Collaborative. She is currently a member of the West Oakland Youth Center Advisory Board.


Kharyshi has worked tirelessly to improve the circumstances for youth and Black people in Oakland. She believes that one of the most threatening issue facing students, families, and educators in Oakland is gentrification and displacement. She understands that if things do not drastically change regarding housing and the cost of living in, then those individuals who have historically been in Oakland, as well as many individuals who have made Oakland their home will no longer be able to live here. Kharyshi is interested in exploring the intersection between education and displacement and figuring out ways to bring together key individuals in order to strengthen the quality of life for students and their families, while increasing pay for educators and nonprofit/service workers so that they can continue to live and work in Oakland.

Kharyshi was a member of the “Free Minds, Free People” organizing body; serving as National Special Events committee co-chair for the 2015 Free Minds, Free People conference held in Oakland, California. At the same conference, Kharyshi and several of her students co-lead the Black Lives Matter Assembly.   

Who gave money to this candidate?

To see who is funding campaigns in Oakland, visit Open Disclosure Oakland.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

My political frame in Pan-Africanism. However, I would rather submit my teaching statement. This will give you a sense of who I am politically and in regards to education. Perhaps the most important contributions to my teaching style were the ones that I received, as a child, from my mother and several of the teachers who made a conscious effort to connect with me. Whenever I enter a classroom, group situation, or instructional moment, they are there with me. Of course I bring a certain amount of natural talent, but more than that, I bring years of life lessons and “people wisdom” that has been handed down to me from them. I believe that teaching is about freedom and discovery as oppose to rigidity and staleness.


I see students, no matter the age or experience, as first and foremost… “Human beings.” I regard the student/teacher relationship as a reciprocal experience; everyone contributes to and receives something from the process. And if I am being effective as a teacher, elements of compassion, respect, interconnectedness, empowerment, self-awareness, exploration, and fun will all exist within the process.


When a student encounters my teaching style, they can expect to find a teacher who will: facilitate the process, advocate for them, challenge them in love, participate in the process, be nurturing, be present, listen, mentor or guide whenever needed, look beyond the surface, check herself, admit when she is wrong, help them develop or strengthen their voice (either artistically or personally), allow them to offer ideas, and share herself.


At the core of my teaching/learning value system is the understanding of youth development theory, student development theory, and teaching for social justice. Additionally, I believe that the more invested a student is with the teaching/learning process, the more they will get out of it. The more “buy in” a student has, the more invested they become. It is then my job, as a facilitator, to create ways for them to develop that “buy in.” It is also my job to acknowledge each student for who they are. Students are people, not droids, and each one tells a different story, looks through different eyes, and receives information in their own way. As a teacher, I need to make space for different learning styles, so that I can teach the person…and not the subject!


Inherent in my teaching style are the following quotes:

       It takes a village to raise a child- African proverb

       Each one, teach one

       I am, because we are. We are, because I am

       If you can walk you can dance. If you can talk you can sing -Zimbabwe Proverb

       What we do, if we are successful, is to stir interest in the matter at hand, awaken enthusiasm for it, arouse a curiosity, kindle a feeling, fire up the imagination -Professor Julius Sumner Miller, 1992

       It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership-Nelson Mandela

       Kuumba (Creativity)-To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it-NGUZO SABA


I believe in a teacher’s responsibility. The teaching/learning process depends more on a teacher’s ability to teach than a student’s ability to learn. An example of this is my experience teaching music to a bunch of middle school students in Los Angeles:


I was trying to teach the class the basic elements of reading music. One of the students, a boy whose passion in life was playing sports, didn’t understand anything that I was saying. But more importantly, he really could care less. He was not interested in playing music, and therefore, had no real need to learn how to read it. However, he was still in my class and I had been given the task of teaching them how to read music. Instead of getting mad at him for not caring or ignoring him because it was too hard to teach someone who didn’t care about the learning process, I simply asked him what it was that he loved. He responded with “football!” So, I decided to use football as the vehicle to explain music to him. The lines and spaces became the football field with its designated yardage, and the notes became spaces. I continued to find football rules and procedures to explain the rest of the music concepts to him.


In my opinion, that is an excellent example of “good or effective teaching.” I was able to take something that wasn’t tangible for this young man, like music theory, and give it to him in a way that was completely tangible, and the powerful thing about teaching in that way, is that it made the entire class, as well as me, more engaged in the process.

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LWVO Videos — October 23, 2016 League of Women Voters Oakland

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