Washougal School District earns national recognition

American Association of School Administrators names local school system one of 13 ‘lighthouse districts’

The Washougal School District is earning national attention for its efforts to improve educational outcomes for all students.

The American Association of School Administrators (AASA), a professional organization for school superintendents, announced its 13 “lighthouse districts,” meant to represent districts that serve as shining examples of positive changes in public education, earlier this month.

According to Les Brown, the Washougal School District’s director of communications and technology, the national “lighthouse district” designation is awarded to school districts that prepare future learners by incorporating student voice in learning activities and decision-making, using technology to enhance learning and listening to their community’s needs.

“We are proud to be considered a leading district in creating positive change in public education, and hopeful that the work that has increased student achievement and improved outcomes for students can serve as a model for other districts,” Brown said.

According to a news release announcing the AASA “lighthouse districts,” the Washougal district will join more than 120 other school systems in AASA’s Learning 2025 network of “forward-leaning, urban, suburban and rural school districts engaged in learning, networking and working together to help drive education policy and ultimately improve student learning.”

“Our ‘lighthouse’ systems are serving as thought-leader practitioners that are implementing bold, actionable steps on behalf of the broader education community to learn from and learn with as they have taken on the challenge of Learning 2025,” AASA executive director Daniel Domenech stated in the news release. “As we emerge from the pandemic, it is critical to invoke future-focused best practices for the well-being, self-sufficiency and success of our young learners.”

A review panel composed of independent education leaders from across the United States evaluated applications submitted during the first three months of 2022.

“(AASA) lauded us for establishing a strategic plan that lines out with future-driven education that is whole-child focused and is making sure that no child is marginalized,” Washougal School District Mary Templeton told the Washougal School Board during a May 10 workshop. “The school board’s ability to establish the mission led us to some of the pieces that they noticed about our system. A lot of it, interestingly, has happened during COVID, because we said we must continue to push forward and push upward so we can offer the opportunity to all of our children, even under the most intense circumstances.”

Templeton will speak at the AASA/SPN’s Learning 2025 National Summit in Washington D.C. in June.

“We’re excited about that opportunity to talk about what it is that we’re doing together,” Templeton said. “This is not something that anybody has done by themselves. This is something that we have all done together.”

Washougal School District Assistant Superintendent Renae McMurray agreed the recognition was thanks to “a team effort.”

“This is a high-powered team, and everybody, no matter what position they hold, is all about supporting students, and I think that really came forward in our award, too,” McMurray told the school board on May 10. “It was about effective teaching. It was about a feeling of belonging that permeates all through our district. It’s everybody coming together.”