As a destination for anyone wishing to design a better world, Mount Vernon continuously seeks ways to connect students with real-life experiences. A big part of that involves creating and cultivating meaningful relationships among diverse people, ideas, and industries. Additionally, it means equipping students to be culturally self-aware and responsible global citizens. Emphasizing the importance of this work, this year Mount Vernon brought on Brandi Hoyos, the School’s Director of Multicultural Innovation and Diverse Networks. In just a few months, Brandi is forging strong bonds of inclusivity by connecting with faculty, students, and parents.
MV: What drew you to Mount Vernon?
Having experience within the AAAIS (Atlanta Area Association of Independent Schools) community for 12 years, I know that Mount Vernon has earned its reputation of being a school that transforms what society defines as “traditional education.” The School empowers students to meet, navigate, and resolve the challenges of tomorrow. The first day I walked onto the Mount Vernon campus was the first time I felt genuinely excited about learning as an adult in my career. I finally found “my tribe” of people, learners who are both professionally and personally passionate about innovation and collaboration. I am in awe of the creativity and willingness to try something new. We have amazing talent here at Mount Vernon!
MV: Tell us about YOU–your background and life before MV.
Most recently, I served as the Multicultural Admission Outreach Coordinator, New Faculty Orientation Coordinator, Lower School Multicultural Coordinator, and Lower School Spanish teacher at The Lovett School. Prior to Lovett, I was the Diversity Coordinator and Spanish Lead Teacher at Trinity School. In my spare time, I enjoy what I like to call my 4C’s: concerts, crafting, coding, and cable (catching up on DVR) to unwind! I also love cheering on my Georgia Bulldawgs in any athletic event as an alum. Family is most important in my life, and I am blessed to be the mother of two beautiful children, Izzie and Nathan, and the wife of an amazing and supportive husband, Zeke.
MV: Your role is new for the School. Let’s discuss the work you’re charged to do.
- Concentrate on attracting, recruiting, selecting, and retaining diverse members of the school’s administration team, faculty, staff, students, and their families.
- Prepare students to be well-rounded individuals and successful global citizens, equipping them with cross-cultural effective skills, cultural self-awareness, and cultural intelligence.
- Link academic excellence with the student body to include affinity groups, programming, and community service learning.
- Create and cultivate meaningful relationships and connections among diverse people, ideas, industries, and learning environments
MV: After six months with the MV community, what have you experienced so far?
It’s hard to believe that I’ve been a part of this community for only six months. It feels like I have been here longer! I am so grateful for the amount of support I have received from colleagues, students, and parents.
MV: What are some of the highlights?
- Being a mystery reader in second grade and engaging with the students in an activity where they were tasked to create and name their own unique skin color as they painted their self-portraits.
- Collaborating with the third grade team, empowering students to be change agents as they engage in social action for civil and human rights.
- Supporting the seventh grade team with a PBL project focused around cultural identity and immigration
- Being invited to emcee the ninth grade 23andMe project-based learning kickoff event.
- Connecting students from iDiploma with the Center of Civil and Human Rights to design an exhibit that focuses on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
- A successful first semester co-teaching the Upper School Race, Class, Gender course with my friend and colleague, Ben Potter.
MV: From your perspective, what are some areas where we have some work to do (areas of improvement)?
In my role, I am charged and trusted by the School to guide, educate, and inform the community about what must be done to develop and sustain a culturally competent organization; however, I think that it’s important we recognize that we are all stakeholders in this work. My fervent hope is to design an infrastructure that includes various constituencies from the faculty, staff, student, and parent community. As an independent school, we have the “choice” to welcome, embrace, and prioritize difference and inclusivity. It is not a separate initiative, rather an overarching one. We can choose to build structures and programs that value these initiatives at an institutional level. Multicultural Innovation should charge all educators to continually examine our teaching and curricula to not only affirm a dominant narrative, but to ensure that we include multiple perspectives from diverse backgrounds and life experiences. By working individually on our own personal growth and in collaboration with others, we can move beyond the classroom to bring about positive change at the institutional level, locally, and in our global community.
In our quest to make school more reflective of real life our strategic plan—MVx– asks us to create a diverse network that creates and cultivates connections between people, ideas, and sectors. Paint a picture for us–in 5 years share your vision of what you see at Mount Vernon.
I see intentionality and awareness, building on the beautiful roses that have been planted before me and cultivating and nurturing the exciting buds of opportunities that have yet to bloom… a community that listens to understand rather than to respond, is mindful of how our impact is influenced by our intentions, and is not only innovative in the products that we design, but visibly diverse in the designers and learners who create the product. I am excited to embark on a journey of endless possibilities with the MV community to build and sustain a place where everyone feels valued and welcomed as their authentic selves!