Washougal School District hosts U.S. public education leaders

Members of The School Superintendents Association's Innovative Districts Empowering All Learners cohort participants listen to Washougal High School students discuss the ways that student voice influences school culture, policy and programs on Tuesday, March 28. (Contributed photo courtesy Washougal School District)

The Washougal School District and The School Superintendents Association (AASA) co-hosted a cohort of public education leaders from across the United States on Monday, March 27, and Tuesday, March 28. 

“This cohort represents an opportunity to bring like-minded leaders together to learn about finding solutions to best fit the needs of our students and to make sure they are rising academically,” Washougal School District Superintendent Mary Templeton said in a news release. “The Washougal School District was honored to serve as the host district for this important meeting as attendees who are thinking critically about instruction saw firsthand how we are supporting the whole child. The superintendents and their teams who took part in our site visit are making great strides in their respective communities.”

Innovative Districts Empowering All Learners (IDEAL) cohort participants examined best practices in future-driven education through student-led school tours, a student voice panel and workshops, according to the news release.

“Visiting leaders in education experienced first-hand the ways that Washougal School District centers student voice in school and district decision making,” the news release states.

On the first day, visiting leaders were given tours of Washougal High School and Hathaway Elementary School, and spoke with Washougal High career specialist Kathy Scobba and chef Jonathan Curiel.

“Student voice gives an important perspective on school, and being listened to makes you feel valued,” said Hathaway Elementary fifth-grader Reece Prynne.

On the second day, six Washougal High School students talked about several of the school’s culture-building programs, including its student advisory panel, a group of students who represent student interests at school board work sessions, and its ambassador program, a partnership with Unite! Washougal for student-to-student mentorship, with staff members and visitors.  

“We’ve started something good with the ambassador program,” said Washougal High School student Dawson Sprinkle.

“It feels like we really are coming together and listening to one another,” Washougal High School student Daisha Paz-Mendoza added.

By the end of the visit, the cohort “gained a deeper understanding of how Washougal School District creates dynamic learning environments, prioritizes student voice, and leverages community partnerships to best serve students with innovative programs that meet student needs,” according to the news release

Washougal Schools was recognized by AASA last year as a Learning 2025 Lighthouse Demonstration System in the area of social emotional and cognitive growth.  

“The IDEAL cohort is composed of outstanding school district leaders who are building cultures and systems in order to provide access and opportunity for our young learners to thrive,” said AASA executive director David Schuler said in the news release. “We are grateful to superintendent Mary Templeton and her team for hosting our spring cohort meeting at this critical time in public education.”