Rallying Community Support for Students in a Small Town
Washington Court House City Schools (WCHCS) began in a one-room log cabin schoolhouse in 1814. Surrounded by farm fields, WCHCS is a small town-rural district facing high levels of poverty and limited resources. The four WCHCS schools each in federalist style buildings with unique columns, are central pillars of its community serving over 2,000 students. Traditional measures often fail to fully capture the realities of WCHCS schools, so Superintendent Dr. Tom Bailey wanted to create a vision to unite, inspire, and uplift the community around their students. As a SOAR Network member, WCHCS partnered with BFK to assemble a group of community stakeholders to collectively develop their Portrait of a Blue Lion, a locally developed vision that articulates the skills and mindsets WCHCS students need for success today and tomorrow.
“This tool will be a beacon to rally our community around our students”—Tom Bailey, Ed.D. | Superintendent, Washington Court House City Schools, OH
For Dr. Bailey, it was important to engage with all community perspectives, including community leaders who were critical of the district in the past. The Design Team, charged with creating the Portrait of a Blue Lion, also enlisted students with diverse backgrounds and experiences to participate. As a result of this participatory effort, the Portrait of a Blue Lion includes competencies that reflect the values of the Washington Court House community.
The Portrait of a Blue Lion will help the district prepare students to graduate ready to be active contributors in this vibrant, rural community. By welcoming many voices in this endeavor, WCHCS built a cadre of community supporters who can rally in support of schools to bring this vision to life for every student. Now WCHCS wants to promote the Portrait of a Blue Lion to build awareness and engage with business leaders. While COVID-19 temporarily paused this work, it also amplified the importance of the Blue Lion competencies. Moving forward, WCHCS will convene students and faculty to examine the competencies. In the 2020-21 school year, Dr. Bailey plans to begin work on cornerstone and capstone projects and develop a handbook for the Blue Lion competencies. He hopes that by orienting his district around the Portrait of a Blue Lion, WCHCS students will be ready to tackle the challenges of today and tomorrow.