The mission of the Washington Schools Foundation is to increase access to meaningful teacher-directed professional development opportunities for educators by providing financial support to talented teachers to work on high value educational projects. We aim to change the way professional development is practiced and perceived in the State of Washington. We envision professional development opportunities as a tool to attract and reward teachers who wish to pursue their careers in a collaborative, intense, and year-round fashion similar to other professionals and as an added benefit, increase their compensation. Our vision is to help Washington schools attract and retain talented and passionate staff so that Washington children have the best education possible.
The Washington Schools Foundation was founded in 2008 in response to the need for a community foundation on Vashon Island that could manage complicated donations such as investments and property that would materialize in value in the long term. In the same way, the founders wanted to make investments in school districts that would have a profound impact on the effectiveness of the schools in the long term, while providing an opportunity for educators and districts to incorporate best practices into individual classrooms and systems.
While the ability of the foundation to manage complicated donations still exists, the idea of implementing a grants program for professional development had become deeply rooted in the community and particularly exciting to the teacher’s union. The foundation identified one other district -Anacortes, Washington - to serve as pilot site for a statewide initiative.
Washington School Foundation supports student achievement through a focus on teaching excellence. Using the best practice model developed by Park School in Baltimore, Maryland, we will demonstrate the effectiveness of a summer-only professional development program for teachers. This pilot project will target two schools in Washington State: one is Vashon Island School District, a small school district in King County, and the other will be the Anacortes School District, a medium sized system in Skagit County. These schools were chosen based in their geography, size, established school leadership, and visionary drive.
The pilot project will aim to create a sustainable program of grant making for teachers that allows the most passionate and able to have paid work during the summer to pursue high value educational projects. The projects will be self-directed and must be initiated by a grant application that is completed by the teacher.
These grants will aim to make possible intensive, collaborative attention to issues so that teachers can devote summers to intensive, high-value work and schools can attract and retain highly talented faculty through a unique program that provides attractive additional compensation. Educators who receive grants will be paid per-diem. This potential compensation will position these school districts to more competitively attract highly qualified teachers for employment, particularly when the compensation is assessed as a maximum potential salary or an opportunity for a new but highly motivated teacher to quickly assume a leadership role.