On October 25, 2022, the Washougal School District school board received the Board of Distinction recognition from the Washington State School Directors Association (WSSDA.) The annual WSSDA Boards of Distinction program honors school boards across the state of Washington that demonstrate successful leadership through effective use of the Washington School Board Standards. 

Board members congratulated for WSSDA board of distinction 2022 with members in front of WSD board room wall

This award recognizes the board’s focus on professional development, closing the opportunity gap, and development of a visionary path forward for Washougal School District. The Washougal School District School Board is among 30 recipients of this prestigious statewide award in 2022, out of the 295 school boards.

Board President Cory Chase and board members Jim Cooper, Angela Hancock, Sadie Mckenzie, and Chuck Carpenter work alongside Washougal School District leadership to nurture a solid educational foundation for Washougal’s students. “I am honored and humbled to work with an amazing group of volunteers to serve the young people in our community.  The support of the Washougal community has been unwavering through unprecedented times.” said Cory Chase.  

The board has invested in staff training around Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) that focus on boosting student achievement for all students by focusing on teacher collective efficacy. Board leadership have participated in some of the training to ensure they understand the important role this plays in increasing student achievement.  The board has also prioritized funding for the Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support work that focuses on proactively managing student behavior which maximizes instructional time for students and creates a strong sense of belonging and hope in each classroom. 

The board process to update the strategic plan also contributed to the recognition.  The mid-point check-in process, which began in January of 2022, asked community members, students, families and staff to share ideas about the shared work serving students and the community.  The opportunities for feedback, listening posts, surveys, and board presentations resulted in clear metrics for success that are highlighted in the new Strategic Plan. These metrics will help the board reach the vision of seeing every Washougal student known, nurtured, and challenged to rise. Chase added, “this award recognizes the hard work, dedication, and perseverance of the Washougal School District Board of Directors.  I am proud of what we have accomplished in the past year. It is rewarding to be recognized at the State level by WSSDA for our work in Washougal.”

Washougal School District has earned many notable achievements since Cory Chase began serving as board president. The Washougal School District was recently one of 13 districts in the nation to be selected as a Lighthouse Demonstration district with the national Superintendents Association Network, recognizing the district’s work in supporting the social, emotional, and cognitive growth of students. The board also oversaw the district’s expansion of resources for families who speak Spanish, as well as the launch of Transitional Kindergarten programs as full-day pre-kindergarten options.  

During Chase’s tenure, the board opened Columbia River Gorge Elementary, finished the 2015 bond projects, created and expanded the Dual language program, and brought culinary services in-house to support chef-inspired, scratch-made cooking.  Under his leadership, the board was recognized as a WSSDA board of distinction in 2021 and 2022 for the focus on equitable outcomes for all students and data showing growth at closing the achievement gap. The Washougal School Board has created additional opportunities for community input, including town halls, listening posts, focus groups, student representatives to the board, and surveys, as well as expanding opportunities for citizen comment during board meetings.  The board has focused on expanding opportunities for families through programs the community identified as needs during the strategic planning process, and established a focus on high levels of student engagement. 

In order to see the work first hand, the school board spends time in classrooms during site visits for every school each year.  During these opportunities, the board engages directly with students and staff, seeing first hand the great teaching and learning activities that take place each day. These visits also provide time for the board to hear directly from students and to ensure the high quality programs and educational opportunity that every Washougal student needs to be known, nurtured, and challenged to rise. 

Learn more in the full announcement by the WSSDA organization.