Bob Grossman Leadership in School Communications Award

The Bob Grossman Leadership in School Communications Award recognizes a practicing superintendent of schools or CEO of an education agency, service center or intermediate unit for outstanding leadership in school public relations and communication.

The Bob Grossman Leadership in School Communications Award is sponsored by West (SchoolMessenger solutions). Visit West/SchoolMessenger to learn more.

2018 Bob Grossman Leadership in School Communications Award Recipient

Steven T. Webb, Ed.D.
Steven T. Webb, Ed.D.
Vancouver (Wash.) Public Schools

Since taking the reins as superintendent of Vancouver Public Schools (VPS) in 2008, a hallmark of Dr. Steve Webb’s leadership style has been timely, two-way communication and public engagement that:

  • Ranks consistently as a primary operating principle;
  • Is prioritized even during times of budget cuts or reallocations;
  • Expands in accordance with increasing poverty and changing demographics; and
  • Accounts in large measure for the district’s success;

Dr. Webb holds a strong conviction that an investment in a year-round communication and relationship-building program is essential and the VPS communications office includes nine staff members serving an urban-suburban district of 24,000 students. The annual budget for communication and stakeholder engagement activities that support VPS’ strategic goals and initiatives is nearly $1.1 million. A variety of communication tools, techniques and vehicles are deployed and translated into multiple languages.

The development of the district’s strategic plan involved gathering input from thousands of internal and external stakeholders to craft and refine the plan, which focuses on six key areas of student achievement. This type of open and transparent communication leadership has also resulted in strong community support for levies and bond elections, with 70% of voters approving a $458 million bond in 2017.

Empowering communicators and building capacity is a priority for Dr. Webb. Effective public relations skills are a component of the annual performance evaluation for all administrators, including the superintendent. The communications team provides regular training on mass notification systems and websites and principals participate in Future Ready Administrator training that empowers them to use digital tools and resources to support staff and students and communicate with families. Orientation programs are provided for school board candidates and elected board members.

Dr. Webb is quick to embrace new communication tools and strategies, including mobile-friendly, responsive websites, social media and one-to-one devices for students in grades 3-12. An award-winning network of 18 Family-Community Resource Centers and two mobile centers ensures families, volunteers and community partners are connected to their schools.

His personal communication skills set the tenor across VPS as he models effective communication and demonstrates the use of the communication tools in place in the district. VPS is known as a “destination” district for families moving to Vancouver, and Dr. Webb’s advocacy and investment in school communications has been vital to building and maintaining that reputation. The communication highlights we have noted here are only a few of the long list of Dr. Webb’s accomplishments as a “communicator” superintendent. His leadership has allowed the district’s communication and public engagement program to grow as he continues to empower everyone in VPS to play a powerful role in the schools.

Dr. Steven Webb truly exemplifies the communication leadership this award seeks to recognize and we are proud to honor him as our 2018 Bob Grossman Leadership in School Communications Award recipient.