Many of our parents and graduates describe the Vashon Island public school system as having the attributes of a private school education. We offer high quality academic programs and a wide range of opportunities in the arts, sports, music, and travel both in the classroom and through co-curricular clubs and activities. Our schools reflect the commitment of our faculty and staff, the participation and dedication of our parents and families, and the contributions of our vibrant community partner organizations.
Our mission, “to equip every student to engage, thrive, and contribute within an ever-changing world,” guides our commitment to the success of every student. Our joy is to know every student as an individual and to provide each student with the tools and learning opportunities they need to prepare for college or a career, and ultimately to lead productive lives as citizens.
The culture within each of our three public schools is built upon a deep compassion and caring for one another. Our teachers and staff are renowned for their experience, qualifications and commitment. They work together both within departments and across grade levels to ensure continuity of curriculum and support for students.
Our public schools thrive because of our community of support. Our curriculum is greatly enhanced by contributions of funding from Vashon Partners in Education, Vashon PTSA, and Vashon Island Public Schools Foundation, among others. Thanks to partnerships with Vashon Youth and Family Services and Vashon Alliance to Reduce Substance Abuse, our learning community has access to education and resources directed towards mental and physical health.
I invite you to visit our campus and see our award-winning schools first hand. We look forward to extending you a warm welcome.
Michael Soltman, Superintendent
In 2013, the Vashon School District Board of Directors adopted a new strategic plan. Through a collaborative process involving faculty, staff, administration, students and the Vashon community, a group of over 80 has worked together to develop six initiatives that support our mission statement at all levels.
Mission: To equip every student to engage, thrive, and contribute within an ever-changing world.
So what does it mean to equip every student to engage, thrive, and contribute in an ever-changing world?
Engage: A teaching environment that fosters a sense of curiosity and personal investment in learning through meaningful instruction.
Thrive: A learning community that supports the intellectual, emotional, social and physical needs of each student with a balance of appropriate challenge and recognition for achievement.
Contribute: A curriculum that encourages critical thinking and a world-view through exposure to perspectives of other cultures and backgrounds. Understanding the connectedness of world cultures, what makes a good citizen, and the importance of each citizen’s contribution to the greater whole.
The following is an overview of our mission, objectives of that mission and strategies to reach said objectives. We consider our strategic plan to be a living document under constant reevaluation and growth to keep pace with the rapidly changing world of education.
1. Every student demonstrates essential life and academic skills for continued growth.
2. Every student is engaged and heard, and demonstrates personal responsibility for learning.
3. Every student demonstrates a commitment to contribute by participating in projects that are meaningful to the student and to the community.
1. Deepen students’ engagement in their learning community
2. Adopt, embed and evaluate a District set of cognitive and social skills within a growth mind set.
3. Make learning relevant and responsive to students’ lives in an ever-changing world.
Initiatives in Action:
Healthy and Compassionate Living Initiative: Implement a social/emotional mental health skill framework along with research-based programming to facilitate a culture of care and compassion, life skills for healthy living, systems of intervention and support, and a commitment to an antiracist multicultural school community.
Instructional Practice Initiative: Empower teachers to lead instructional change using the Marzano Instructional Framework; increase student engagement and enhance student growth.
Multi-tier System of Supports Initiative: Effectively identify students needing additional instructional support, monitor student progress using multiple data points to inform instruction and to implement effective interventions to address the unique needs of these learners (K through 12).
Social Justice Initiative
In March of 2016, a group of parents and school leaders came together to convene a discussion of inclusion and racial equity within the Vashon Island School District (VISD). Soon thereafter, the Puget Sound Educational Service District (PSESD) Equity in Education team was contracted to help the district initiate this work.
The district is creating a plan to advance efforts to build understanding and actions to enhance equity in education for all students on Vashon. VISD is working in partnership with community members, who recently formed Vashon Parents and Friends for Racial Equity, and the Puget Sound Educational Service District to achieve four goals over the next few years:
The district has contracted with PSESD to facilitate our equity learning and planning. The contract is funded by the Vashon Schools Foundation social and emotional health grant.
Superintendent Michael Soltman enlisted the leadership of Yvonne-Monique Aviva, the director of an ongoing initiative to improve social-emotional learning in Vashon public schools, to lead this team and guide their work.
“This has to be a ‘we’ effort,” says Aviva. “It involves changing the lens through which we all see race, privilege and equity. For real change to happen, it needs to involve everybody and it needs be led by those who are most affected—our families of color.”
As a first step, Soltman hired Nikum Pon, director of Equity in Education for the Puget Sound Educational Service District, to collect data. Pon, who has 20 years of experience working with people of color in the Seattle and Tacoma communities, conducted focus groups in June with eight groups at McMurray Middle School and Vashon Island High School.
“Vashon is a progressive community where people are friendly and tolerant,” said Pon. “We found that while most white students felt they were well-connected with peers and had positive feelings about the school, Latino and mixed race students saw things differently. When asked about their awareness of racial tension, several minority students could cite specific incidents that made them feel uncomfortable, while white students didn’t see any problem.”
According to Aviva, “Because nearly 25 percent of Vashon students are children of color, our teachers feel they need more skills in order to build their cultural competency around race. Having gathered the data that showed what our teachers want and what our students need, we asked Nikum Pon to conduct racial equity training sessions for our leadership team and community partners.” Says Aviva, “Together we established a common language and used the data to build a road map to take us on this journey.”
Superintendent Soltman understands that this is not a quick fix, but believes it must continue to be a priority for public schools. “Given the racial tensions here and in communities throughout the country, I think it is both timely and important for us to begin to address these issues right here in our Vashon schools. We are so grateful to have teachers and members of our community so deeply committed to this process and encourage others to join us.”
If you would like to get involved with the school district’s equity team please contact Superintendent Soltman at email@example.com.
The mission of the Vashon Parents and Friends for Racial Equity is, “To partner with VISD and serve as a resource to help all children and families promote inclusion, racial equity and social justice; our goal is to teach children and their parents how to be allies and recognize and combat racism and racial discrimination, as well as engage in dialogue about race issue with respect and integrity.” To join Parents and Friends for Racial Equity, contact Spring Hecht at Spring.Hecht@gmial.com.