Rather than waiting to see how job losses and higher housing costs would impact the schools in Vancouver, Wash., top leaders in the district set out in 2008 to create an “opportunity zone” where schools would focus on addressing the impact of poverty that can affect students’ classroom performance. In several phases, schools in the opportunity zone each 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 resource center developed its own menu of services that are tailored to the specific needs of the school community, offering things like food pantries, free clothing, referrals to mental-health services, family-literacy classes, GED prep programs for parents, and on-site dental care through mobile dental vans. “We have a vested interest in the success of young people,” Superintendent Steve Webb says. “Too many of our young people have barriers to student success in their homes and in their neighborhoods. ... If not us, then who?” City leaders and school volunteers credit Webb and his chief of staff, Tom Hagley, with helping make that vision a reality. This video was produced as part of Education Week’s Leaders To Learn From project, recognizing outstanding school district leaders from around the country. More at http://leaders.edweek.org. Education Week Video
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