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Kent School District board of directors receives national award

Debbie Straus - Courtesy photo
Debbie Straus
— image credit: Courtesy photo

For the Reporter

Kent School District (KSD) board of directors received the grand prize Magna Award from the National School Boards Association (NSBA) for its initiative in establishing iGrad, a student re-engagement program developed in partnership with Green River Community College for students who have dropped out of school.

KSD's Kinder to College program received honorable mention.

NSBA's Magna Awards recognize school boards for taking bold, innovative steps to improve their educational programs. KSD was selected among 300 submissions and won in the over-20,000 students category. Grand prize winners receive a $5,000 contribution from sponsor Sodexo.

"Kent School District offers a second chance for students who want to complete this phase of their education," said School Board President Debbie Straus. "The demand for our program shows how eager people are to succeed. iGrad is another way we provide equal access to education for all."

The KSD school board developed a program that would give students who haven't completed high school the individual attention and flexibility they need to complete their education. It lays the path for them to be able to fulfill their education dreams and goals, whether in college or a career.

At iGrad, students choose the educational path that best fits their goals: a GED, a high school diploma, an AA degree, or a professional certificate. With no charge for tuition for these credentials, iGrad welcomes students aged 16 to 21. Classes are in three-hour blocks available mornings, afternoons, or evenings. With the flexible schedules iGrad offers, students are able to fit school around jobs, childcare, and transportation options.

Since iGrad's opening in 2012, 156 students have received their credentials with 25 diplomas, 130 GEDs and one professional certificate. Enrollment this school year more than doubled from last year to 564 students. As a result of its success, iGrad expanded its facility to accommodate more students.

The Kinder to College program invites kindergartners and parents to visit local college campuses to experience college and gain a vision of what is possible for their future. As part of the program, students engage in a Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) learning activity facilitated by the college to show them academic areas of the highest projected job growth of the future, while parents observe and are able to continue the engagement at home.

Other honors

KSD has received several prestigious awards this year. The board was recognized as a Board of Distinction by the Washington State School Directors' Association for the third year in a row. Superintendent Edward Lee Vargas was selected as this year's Washington State Superintendent of the Year by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The district has received numerous recognitions for educational technology initiatives, such as several honors from the Center for Digital Education, an induction into the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools, the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Award, and more.

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