• Strategic Initiatives

    Updated August 18, 2016


    Mission:   To equip every student to engage, thrive, and contribute within an ever-changing world.



    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 mindset.

    3.     Make learning relevant and responsive to students’ lives in an ever-changing world.


    Current Initiatives? Desired Outcomes? Attainment of Outcomes


    Our Current Initiatives:


    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.


    Desired outcomes:

    ●      Our school district culture is one of compassion, support and understanding

    ●      Our district is commitment to become an antiracist multicultural school community

    ●      Integrated mental health and suicide prevention systems are in all schools

    ●      Caring adults and students have the capacity to assess students of concern, conduct interventions and make appropriate referrals

    ●      There is a community of support where students, staff, teachers and parents work together to promote healthy living

    ●      Crisis response systems are well-planned and well-executed when necessary


    How this is achieved:

    ●      For all we will continue to promote a school community built upon the importance of care and concern for each other, with a commitment to become an anti-racist multicultural district that fosters love and respect for all

    ●      For students we will provide a framework and rubric detailing developmental social/emotional skills, and a means to monitor progress.  We will also provide a curriculum that fosters a deep understanding and skills for good social/emotional and mental health, suicide prevention, knowledge of when to report concerns, and systems of peer care and support.  We will increase counseling resources and implement effective systems for prevention, crisis intervention and support for students at risk.

    ●      For faculty we will develop a program to deepen their understanding of mental health issues such as depression and substance abuse, and enhance skills to support interventions, referrals and crisis response.

    ●      For parents and the community we will provide special meetings and trainings to increase awareness of mental health issues, resources for referral, and skills and support for children at home.


    Instructional Practice Initiative:

    Empower teachers to lead instructional change using the Marzano Instructional Framework; increase student engagement and enhance student growth.


    Desired outcomes:

    ●      Learning and teaching improves district-wide

    ●      Lessons foster conceptual learning; not just recall

    ●      Lessons characterized by questioning and discussion; students explain thinking

    ●      Lessons with clear purpose; “what” and “why” throughout lesson

    ●      Lessons characterized by a safe, positive, collaborative, differentiated and challenging learning environment;

    ●      Students assume more responsibility for their learning and use data to monitor their own progress

    ●      Staff use data to inform and guide instruction

    ●      We align curriculum to meet Washington State learning standards

    ●      We adopt instructional strategies and tools to enhance rigorous and engaging learning

    ●      Our work together is conducted through a commitment to collaboration, communication, and coordination

    ●      We foster and model a growth mindset


    How this is achieved:

    ●      Implement the Marzano Instructional Framework with fidelity

    ●      PLC’s coordinate professional learning walks, providing opportunities for reflective practice, peer learning and inspiration.

    ●      Targeted professional development regarding framework components

    ●      Learning rubrics aligned with Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are developed and shared with students

    ●      PLCs work together to develop group learning goals

    ●      PLCs align instruction to state standards

    ●      Students and teachers use a collaborative team approach to learning

    ●      Appoint strong teacher leaders and help develop strong instructional teams


    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).


    Desired outcomes:

    ●      Increase the number of students who are successful in every classroom

    ●      Increase the number of students who graduate from high school

    ●      Increase the number of students who complete higher education


    How this is achieved:

    ●      Emphasis on differentiated learning for all students

    ●      Teachers use data to inform and guide instruction

    ●      Formative assessments are routinely used to measure student progress

    ●      Teachers share data and troubleshoot within their Professional Learning Community (PLC)

    ●      Create a system of interventions and performance monitoring for students who struggle whether academically, emotionally or with social/behavioral difficulties.

    ●      Develop a consistent K-12 system with three tiers of intervention, well-coordinated with common tools between schools/programs


    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:

    1. To convene a District Equity Team comprised of key district and community stakeholders to engage in an equity self-assessment and oversee the development of an equity plan with strategies for the district.

    2. To conduct a district data analysis in order to gain critical insight regarding the current academic and social/emotional experiences of students and families of color.  Largely a process of engaging students and families to learn together about the opportunity gap, barriers to success, and ideas for inclusion.

    3. To provide professional learning opportunities for multiple audiences including but not limited to leaders, teachers, counselors, paraprofessionals, and front office staff designed to increase multi-cultural competence and to expand their capacity to develop racially equitable systems and classrooms. Specifically, to develop skills and strategies for eliminating individual, institutional, and structural racism.

    4. To coordinate with other Vashon community efforts to promote inclusion, racial equity, and social justice.

    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 msoltman@vashonsd.org.


    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.