(Pictured above, from left: Superintendent Steve Webb

[photo by Katharine Kimball] and Chief of Staff Thomas R. Hagley Jr.)

America’s newspaper and website of record for K-12 schools selected Vancouver, Wash., educators as two of 13 in the U.S. to recognize for leadership and innovation

Education Week named Vancouver Public Schools’ Steven T. Webb, superintendent, and Thomas R. Hagley Jr., chief of staff, “Leaders to Learn From 2016.” Webb and Hagley are profiled in the national report for their vision and leadership in developing Family-Community Resource Centers throughout the Vancouver district.

The annual Leaders To Learn From report highlights forward-thinking educational leaders who seize on good ideas and execute them well in their school systems. Webb and Hagley are two of 13 honorees selected by Education Week editors from a pool of hundreds of submissions by education writers, state school administrator groups and experts in the K-12 field.

Nominator Martin Blank, president of the Institute for Educational Leadership and director of the Coalition for Community Schools in Washington, D.C., noted Webb and Hagley as “the driving force behind a proactive, community-based approach to turning around economically disadvantaged schools.”

With more than half of its 23,500 students eligible for free or reduced-price meals, a federal indicator of poverty, VPS is working with community partners to reduce barriers to learning. This challenge is compounded in 16 of the district’s highest-poverty schools where achievement gaps and student mobility disproportionately affect large numbers of students.

Through the district’s strategic plan, Webb and Hagley have addressed the performance discrepancy head-on by establishing a network of Family-Community Resource Centers to help meet the needs of the families and students in those 16 schools. An FCRC mobile unit was created to serve other schools. FCRC-related services have included assistance with food, clothing, medical and dental care, housing, early education, childcare, after-school programs and parent support.

“Community schools are about the village—families, schools and communities coming together and interacting as partners to provide wraparound support for students in need,” said Webb. “We couldn’t do this work without the hundreds of partners who have stepped up to help, and we’re so grateful for their contributions.”

Webb and Hagley’s leadership and commitment to initiate and expand the community schools model has resulted in academic gains, decreased mobility and increased family engagement. The VPS graduation rate also has improved from 64 percent in 2010 to 80 percent in 2015.

Said Hagley, “The positive outcomes we seek for poverty-affected students can be achieved only when we reduce barriers to learning, which is the daily focus of our Family-Community Resource Centers team. These dedicated VPS staff members are the mobilizers and the connectors. They are champions for children.”

Webb and Hagley will be honored at a special Leaders to Learn From event on March 10 and 11, 2016, in Washington, D.C.