A Bold Plan to Engage and Support Families

Steve Webb, Superintendent of Vancouver Public Schools has been named one of the 2016 finalists for National Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Superintendents, and one of the 2016 Education Week’s Leaders to Learn From.

In 2008, he set out to incorporate a bold vision into the Vancouver School District’s strategic plan: they would create an “opportunity zone” where schools would focus on addressing needs of kids and families that affect student learning. Since then, schools in the “opportunity zone” have set aside space for a Family and Community Resource Center staffed by a coordinator to help meet the needs of students and their families. Each Center has developed its own menu of services tailored to the specific needs of the school community, offering such help as food pantries, free clothing, referrals to social services, family-literacy classes, workshops and GED preparation programs for parents, and on-site dental care through mobile dental vans. Through the Centers, staff members coordinate public resources and private donations, volunteer services, and community contributions. This approach has helped the district increase parent engagement, high school graduation rates and the number of low-income students enrolling in Advanced Placement courses.

There are now Family and Community Resource centers in 16 of the district’s schools and six central-office staff members who help support their efforts. The district’s plan is to have a Center in all Vancouver schools by 2020. Read more and watch the video.