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News Releases
Librarians' Role as Digital Learning Leaders is Highlighted - 10/22/14
Vancouver Public Schools is profiled for its work empowering teacher-librarians
to help lead a digital transformation

Washington, D.C. | October 22, 2014 ¬- As part of its ongoing efforts to document the work of innovative school districts around the country, Digital Promise has published a multimedia case study spotlighting how teacher-librarians at Vancouver Public Schools (VPS) in Washington state are helping to lead the district through its digital transformation.

"The New Librarian: Leaders in the Digital Age" is the latest in a series of case studies produced by Digital Promise that showcase the successes and challenges of members of the League of Innovative Schools. The case study, published on, features video, photography, graphics, and other resources, with the goal of providing a blueprint to assist other districts and educators in tackling key issues.

"Innovation isn't just about technology, it's about learning from each other," said Sara Schapiro, director of the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools, a national coalition of 57 school districts improving outcomes for students through learning technology. "Vancouver Public Schools is a leader in education innovation and we're excited to help them share their story."

At a time when many districts are cutting back on library services, Vancouver Public Schools has emerged as a national model for how to reinvent the teacher-librarian role for the 21st century. VPS is in the beginning stages of a digital learning initiative to provide all teachers and students in grades 3-12 with an electronic device in a flexible learning environment, and a personalized digital curriculum.

"Ubiquitous leadership is vital to the success of our digital transformation in Vancouver Public Schools," said Steve Webb, superintendent of Vancouver Public Schools. "We're empowering our professional staff to lead and teach in ways that will produce future-ready graduates."

No longer just the keepers of books, VPS teacher-librarians have emerged as leaders in connecting teachers with effective digital resources, educating students on digital responsibility, and supporting efficient introduction of technology to the classroom.

"This study offers educational leaders a way to think differently about teacher-librarians and the leadership roles they can play in 21st-century schools," said Mark Ray, director of instructional technology and library services at Vancouver Public Schools. "VPS has invested in teacher-librarians because our district understands the ways in which these professionals can lead, teach, and support both students and teachers as part of a broader vision for digital transformation."

Share this case study and join the discussion on social media using the hashtag #futurelibrarian.

Past Digital Promise case studies include the following:
* Investing in Students' Digital Future from Day One: Blended Learning in Early Elementary at Utica Community Schools (MI)
* Bridging the Digital Divide for Low-Income Students: 1:1 Learning, 24/7, at Sunnyside Unified School District (AZ)
* Innovation Starts in the Classroom: A Teacher-Driven Approach to 21st-century Learning at West Ada Schools
* Changing a Rural Community's Expectations Through 24/7 Learning: A Model for 21st-century Rural Education at Piedmont City School District (AL)

More information about the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools is available on its website:
Refer students now for VPS Challenge Program - 10/20/14
Any parent, educator, or community member may refer students for Vancouver Public Schools' (VPS) Challenge Program for highly capable students in grades 1-5. Challenge is the district's program for meeting the unique learning needs of students who have demonstrated performance at significantly advanced academic levels when compared with others of their age, experiences, or environments. Outstanding abilities are seen within the general intellectual aptitudes, specific academic abilities, and/or creative productivities of these students. Referral forms must be returned to the Challenge office no later than Monday, Dec. 1, 2014.

Certificated teachers will assess referred students in grades K-4 on scheduled Saturdays in January and February for potential placement in the Challenge Program the following school year.

Qualified students in grades 1-5 attend one of the Challenge magnet schools where they participate in a rigorous curriculum designed to maximize individual potential. The magnet school becomes the home school for students and parents.

Referral forms are available in all VPS elementary school offices, or on the Challenge/Honors webpage (go to, Parents & Families, Programs of Choice & Magnets, Challenge/Honors). Additional information about the Challenge Program and a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) also can be found on this webpage. If you have additional questions, please call the Challenge office at 313-1360.
Vancouver Superintendent Steven Webb Participates in National League of Innovative Schools Meeting - 10/16/14
Washington, D.C. | October 16, 2014 ¬- Vancouver Public Schools' Superintendent Steven Webb joined more than 150 innovative superintendents, school leaders, and representatives from businesses and nonprofits, in the nation's capital for the League of Innovative Schools Fall 2014 Meeting.

During the meeting, which took place Oct. 5-7, Webb participated in workshops with other forward-thinking superintendents, technology developers, researchers, and thought leaders from the White House. A key component of the workshops involved developing action plans that district leaders can pursue together, along with Digital Promise, and take back to their home districts. By pursuing these action plans, League superintendents can overcome some of the most pressing challenges to innovation in public education, including teacher capacity and support, improving assessments, and equitable access to technology for students.

Webb also visited schools within District of Columbia Public Schools, and was able to talk with students and get a first-hand look at an array of innovations, such as classrooms that blend teacher-led instruction with personalized, computer-based lessons.

The meeting concluded with a daylong meeting at the White House with officials from the U.S. Department of Education and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Webb talked with officials about college access, connectivity, and the need for better education technology, among other things.

"We are committed to equipping all of our students with the adaptive skills they need to thrive in the 21st century global economy. Digital tools give teachers the ability to make learning more personal and relevant for students. This work is about ensuring that Vancouver graduates are future ready," said Webb.

Participating in this event demonstrates the commitment Webb made upon joining the League of Innovative Schools, a national coalition of 57 school districts dedicated to innovation. That commitment is to share lessons learned, participate in national and regional forums, and partner with research institutions, technology developers, and other schools to deliver better results for students.

"League superintendents are each doing great work in their districts and this meeting provided a valuable opportunity for them to compare notes with colleagues from across the country and have their voices heard at the highest level - the White House," said Sara Schapiro, director of the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools. "The ideas and action plans that came out of this meeting will help superintendents advance digital learning in their communities and open new doors for students."

For more information on the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools visit:

Tom Hagley, Jr.
Chief of Staff
Vancouver Public Schools

Jason Tomassini
Digital Promise


About Digital Promise
Digital Promise is a nonprofit organization authorized by Congress to spur innovation in education in order to improve the opportunity to learn for all Americans. Through its work with educators, entrepreneurs, researchers, and leading thinkers, Digital Promise supports a comprehensive agenda to benefit lifelong learning and provide Americans with the knowledge and skills needed to compete in the global economy.
Upcoming patron tour to feature Fruit Valley Community Learning Center and Peter S. Ogden Elementary School - 10/15/14
On Friday, Nov. 7, Vancouver Public Schools Superintendent Steve Webb will host his first patron tour of the 2014-2015 school year. The tour will provide an in-depth look at the dynamic learning opportunities at Fruit Valley Community Learning Center and Peter S. Ogden Elementary School.

Both schools will showcase applications of the district's strategic plan, Design II, and commitment to preparing students for college, careers and life.

The tour of Fruit Valley Community Learning Center will highlight its Family-Community Resource Center, community partnerships and full-day kindergarten program.

At Ogden, visitors will learn how an elementary school creates a culture of respect and caring by implementing clear behavioral expectations, bullying-prevention programs, social-emotional learning and academic interventions that increase student engagement and build positive relationships among students and staff.

The free tour will begin and end at the Bates Center for Educational Leadership, 2921 Falk Rd. The tour starts at 8:30 a.m. and concludes at 1 p.m. After visiting Fruit Valley and Ogden, guests have the option of enjoying a student musical performance and a delicious lunch prepared by culinary arts students. Lunch is available for $4 per person.

Everyone is welcome, but space is limited. Visit or contact Sue Knable at 360-313-4720 to sign up.
Vancouver Public Schools announces three opportunities to tour district - 10/01/14
Parents and community members will have three opportunities to discover the dynamic learning opportunities available in Vancouver Public Schools. Free patron tours, hosted by Superintendent Steven Webb, are among the best ways to find out what's new in the district.

Friday, Nov. 7--Fruit Valley Community Learning Center and Peter S. Ogden Elementary School

Visitors will learn how an elementary school creates a culture based on respect and clear behavioral expectations. They'll also see early learning in action and discover how a Family-Community Resource Center provides food, clothing, information about community resources and other services.

Friday, Jan. 23--Vancouver iTech Preparatory middle and high school campuses

On this tour, participants will visit the district's science, technology, engineering and math-focused magnet school, where every student has his or her own laptop to use in a project-based learning environment.

Friday, March 13--McLoughlin and Thomas Jefferson middle schools

Tour-goers can witness the increased engagement that results when every student has his or her own iPad. In addition, they'll have opportunities to explore a Family-Community Resource Center and learn about a program that helps students be successful in school while working toward college enrollment.

Tour sites and highlights are subject to change.

All tours are from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tours begin and conclude at the Bates Center for Educational Leadership,
2921 Falk Rd., Vancouver, WA 98661. Transportation is provided between schools.

Afterward, participants will be treated to a student musical performance and delicious luncheon prepared by students in the district's award-winning Culinary Arts Program. The cost of the optional luncheon is $4 per guest.

Everyone is welcome but space is limited. Pre-registration is required and can be completed at
Vancouver earns grant funding for safe and supportive schools - 09/29/14
Work already underway in Vancouver Public Schools to create safe and supportive learning environments in each of its schools got a boost this past week with the announcement of a nearly $3 million grant award over five years from the U.S. Department of Education. VPS will use the School Climate Transformation Grant (SCTG) to accelerate and expand its priority to improve student achievement by focusing on positive student behavior and school climate.

The SCTG is one of several federal programs designed to work together to help make schools safer and improve mental health services for students and young adults. VPS was the only school district in the Pacific Northwest to receive the competitive SCTG award.

VPS began a focused effort to improve learning environments six years ago as part of its strategic plan, Design II. Gains in student achievement were realized within one year after the district began using Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) at six pilot elementary schools. Since then there has been a concentrated effort to train district employees in PBIS and Response to Intervention (RtI) practices at the district's elementary and middle schools.

"This grant aligns perfectly with our strategic plan to develop research-based systems of support for creating a culture of respect and equity at every one of our 35 schools," said Sally Charuhas, executive director of special services. "With this funding we now have a five-year plan to scale our efforts to secondary schools."

The SCTG award not only puts the expansion of PBIS and RtI in high schools on the fast track, but it also will allow a greater focus on coordinating resources with juvenile justice, mental health, and the Department of Health and Social Services. In addition, the grant will make it possible for the district to offer social-emotional learning opportunities for students through restorative practices--alternatives to suspension and expulsion.

"We're excited to see the integration of restorative practices with PBIS," said Special Services Manager Bill Link. "The goal throughout the district is to teach common expectations, positively acknowledge students, and use data-based decision making to improve the climate and culture so every student can experience success."

# # #

To help keep students safe and improve their learning environments, the U.S. Department of Education awarded more than $70 million to 130 grantees in 38 states. The Department made the awards under four new grant programs that were among the common-sense proposals included in President Obama and Vice President Biden's "Now Is The Time," a comprehensive plan to make our schools safer, reduce gun violence by keeping guns out of dangerous hands, and increase mental-health services.