Vancouver Public Schools Receives 2011 Leadership Through Communication Award


Contact: Kitty Porterfield, 703-774-6953,

Award Recognizes Exemplary Leadership in the
Enhancement of Communications for Schools and the Community 

Arlington, Va., Jan. 7, 2011 - Vancouver Public Schools, an exurban school system in southwest Washington, has been named the 2011 recipient of the Leadership Through Communication Award, jointly sponsored by Blackboard Connect, the National School Public Relations Association and the American Association of School Administrators.The award recognizes Steven T. Webb, superintendent, and Thomas R. Hagley Jr., executive director of community and government relations, for demonstrating exemplary leadership in the enhancement of school-to-parent communication within their school system and the communities they serve. 

Vancouver Public Schools serves over 22,500 students in 34 schools and specialized programs. Clark County, Wash., has the highest rate of unemployment in the state and approximately 50 percent of Vancouver Public Schools students qualify for subsidized meals. 

The judges for the 2011 award noted the strong conviction of the district’s governance and leadership teams that an investment in a year-round communication and relationship-building effort is essential. They cited Vancouver Public Schools’ overall comprehensive communication effort and commended them for the following:

  • Creating a culture empowering all employees as ambassadors and supporting them with communications training.
  • Requiring principals to incorporate parent and community engagement strategies into their School Improvement Plans and including effective communication skills as a component of the annual performance evaluation for all administrators.
  • Establishing nine Family Resource Centers in “opportunity zone” schools to engage parents who traditionally had not been involved. These centers connect families to a wide range of school and community resources and services to develop and maintain strong relationships with the families in the greatest need.
  • Developing two-way communication between all stakeholders and an environment where everyone feels they can offer honest feedback, even if the feedback is critical. The district is intentional in all of its communication, even in negative situations. 

“Creating an inviting culture where two-way communication focuses on honest feedback, and then acting on that feedback, is an integral element of Vancouver’s relationship-building communication program. It clearly demonstrates their commitment to involving stakeholders as true partners, and it is apparent that Superintendent Steven Webb and Executive Director of Communication and Government Relations Thomas Hagley Jr. have built a communication program based on transparency and trust leading to continued support of the Vancouver Public Schools,” said Rich Bagin, executive director of the National School Public Relations Association. 

“Blackboard Connect is proud to continue a partnership with NSPRA and AASA to find and recognize a school district that has made amazing accomplishments in education, facilitated by effective communication. I would like to sincerely congratulate the Vancouver Public Schools as the 2011 award winner. The leadership of Superintendent Steven Webb and Executive Director of Community and Government Relations Tom Hagley, paired with consistent communication and transparency has paid off immensely. The year-round outreach strategy has been essential to relationship-building throughout the district and I congratulate them on their success,” said Jason Bedford, vice president of Blackboard Connect Sales. 

AASA’s Executive Director, Daniel A. Domenech, said, “We applaud the Vancouver Public Schools for creating an open climate where effective communication between schools and the community can thrive. Even in these difficult economic times Vancouver has been able to empower its employees to be school ambassadors and to encourage its parents and community stakeholders to become honest and active participants in the education of the community’s children. Vancouver gets it! We are delighted to honor them.” 

TheLeadership Through Communication Award program is open to all school districts throughout the United States and Canada. The award will be presented at AASA’s National Conference on Education in Denver, Colo., on Feb. 18, 2011. A $10,000 contribution will be made by Blackboard Connect to Vancouver Public Schools to be used for student scholarships or communication activities that benefit students and schools. District leaders will also give a panel presentation on their communication program at the AASA Conference. 

About Blackboard Connect

Blackboard Connect mass communication solutions streamline real-time, one-to-one communication to your learning community. With a suite of trusted, scalable solutions and a client care team committed to providing professional, responsive and knowledgeable support around the clock, Blackboard Connect delivers targeted and effective voice, e-mail, and SMS messages to thousands of parents, students and community members — in minutes. Every day, school districts large and small are using the Blackboard Connect and AlertNow solutions to empower school and district leaders to make measurable improvements in attendance, student achievement and parental involvement, ensuring accurate information is communicated immediately. For more information, visit

About AASA
AASA, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to the highest quality public education for all children. For more information, visit


NSPRA is a professional association dedicated to building support and trust for education through effective, responsible communication and public relations that lead to success for all students. NSPRA has been providing training, services, resources and support to school leaders in North America since 1935. For more information, visit

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