Dr. Steve Webb, superintendent of Vancouver Public Schools, received the 2018 Bob Grossman Leadership in School Communications Award. The award, given by the National School Public Relations Association, was presented July 17 at the annual seminar in Anaheim, California. Webb was honored for his use of strategic communication in collaborative planning efforts, engaging the public in making decisions and, ultimately, improving student achievement.
As stated in NSPRA’s announcement, “VPS is known as a ‘destination’ district for families moving to Vancouver, and Dr. Webb’s advocacy and investment in school communications has been vital to building and maintaining that reputation.”
Webb embraces new communication tools and strategies, including mobile-friendly, responsive websites; social media; and one-to-one devices for students in grades 3-12. An award-winning network of 18 Family-Community Resource Centers and two mobile centers helps to ensure families, volunteers and community partners are connected to their schools. Additionally, Webb continues to support longtime VPS outreach activities such as the superintendent’s patron tour.
Public engagement and communication
Vancouver Public Schools’ strategic plan focuses on six key areas directly related to student achievement. Webb and other district leaders garner input from internal and external stakeholders to provide direction in accomplishing the mission of VPS.
- Dozens of symposia conducted during Webb’s superintendency have engaged employees, students, parents and community and business representatives in creating a shared vision and commitment for strategic plans, facilities design and construction, magnet schools and programs of choice and technology integration.
- The district has a proud tradition of community support for local levies that goes back more than 50 years. Under Webb’s leadership, voters have approved three operating levies, one technology levy and the largest bond measure in the history of Clark County at the time of its passage.
- Open, transparent communication led to nearly 70 percent of voters approving a $458 million bond measure in 2017. More than 700 stakeholders participated in 10 symposia to discuss their vision of the future of Vancouver schools. Stakeholders also had opportunities to contribute to the scope of work through surveys, meetings with school and community groups and online forms. The informational campaign received a 2017 NSPRA Golden Achievement Award.
Webb is only the second superintendent from Washington state to receive the award.
Since 1935, the National School Public Relations Association has been providing school communication training and services to school leaders throughout the United States, Canada, and the U.S. Dependent Schools worldwide. NSPRA’s mission is to advance education through responsible communication through a variety of diverse services provided to members and school leaders.
The Bob Grossman Leadership in School Communications Award recognizes a practicing superintendent of schools or CEO of an education agency, service center or intermediate unit for outstanding leadership in school public relations and communication.