Walla Walla seems to be a yard sign kind of town!
During the last week, you may have seen yard signs popping up around town for Willow Public School. Walla Walla seems to be a yard sign kind of town! The signs are one-way people in Walla Walla are showing support for Willow Public School as an option for students and families.
Our community support runs deep. In fact, before we ever presented a proposal to the Washington State Charter School Commission, we first went to the community to ask a simple, yet at the same time a never-asked question of parents and kids: what do you want to see in a new public middle school for your child? This was in January 2015.
Even before we held our first public meeting, we assembled a team of individuals dedicated to our mission of providing a high-quality education to all students, regardless of the color of their skin, the language spoken at home, or the financial circumstances in which they live. In bilingual teams, we walked the neighborhoods of Walla Walla (visiting over 1000 homes on one particular weekend!) and personally invited families to join us in this vital discussion. We worked with Commitment to Community and other community-based organizations to get the word out to families. Over the course of three months, we held several meetings in various neighborhoods, including Washington Park, Edith and Carrie, Jefferson Park, Valle Lindo, and the downtown core.
And what did we learn from these meetings? Parents and kids wanted a school that listened to them, honored what they had to say, included their ideas in the school plans, and most of all provided an education that met the individual needs of students. And, food came up... a lot. Kids wanted food that was tasty, and parents wanted it to be healthy. Happily, we were able to include the majority of ideas gathered at these meetings into our school plan.
This emphasis on community is part of our DNA: without it, we would not exist. And the connection continues today. The school holds outreach events, community celebrations (such as our Tamal Fest), education events (like the showing of the film Angst), and family fun nights. We participate in community events such as Dia de Los Muertos, National Night Out, and 4th of July in the Park. We are part of Walla Walla because the school was created to individually meet the needs of kids and families in Walla Walla.
Most importantly, our outreach efforts now include the most essential and influential voices: those of parents and kids who have chosen Willow as their school. Our Outreach Director, Linda Solis, has organized grupos pequeños, small groups of supporters who spread the word about Willow to other families. These parents and kids tell compelling stories about why Willow is the right place for them (be looking for future posts from parents and kids). It is these families, especially those who have chosen Willow in its inaugural year, that will make the school a success.
The next time you are driving or walking around town and notice one of our signs, ask the homeowner why they are a Willow supporter. My guess is, you will hear a story that is meaningful and compelling. And you just might decide to put up a yard sign, too!
To get a yard sign, please call the school at 509-593-0821, and we will deliver it to you!