Photo of board member Kathy GillespieAfter eight years, Kathy Gillespie is retiring from Vancouver Public Schools’ board of directors. Her last meeting as a board member will be Nov. 28.

Kathy Gillespie already had a long record of educational involvement upon her initial election in 2009. Her work in Vancouver schools included volunteering, school improvement planning, parent advisory councils and development of the district’s Design II strategic plan.

“When I first began volunteering in our schools I was impressed and inspired by the commitment and dedication I saw among teachers and parents. I wanted to be part of that noble work,” said Gillespie, a former reporter as well as a tutor, mentor and Parent-Teacher Association president.

Record of achievement

The district saw many achievements during Gillespie’s board tenure. Its maintenance and operations levy was renewed three times. Voters said yes to a 2013 technology levy and a 2017 bond measure.

VPS won three national Magna Awards from the National School Boards Association for removing barriers to learning through community school partnerships and easing the transition to school for kindergartners.

Twice the board earned recognition as the Washington State School Directors’ Association Board of the Year. It received a Special Merit Award in 2013 after five consecutive years as a Board of Distinction.

Gillespie’s contributions to district work also included renovations of spaces at Eleanor Roosevelt Elementary and the courtyard at Vancouver School of Arts and Academics, from which both of her children graduated.

On the board she oversaw a second phase of a strategic planning process that is guiding the district through 2020. In addition, she served as an ex-officio board member of the Foundation for Vancouver Public Schools.

Looking ahead

Reflecting on her career, Gillespie said, “My greatest sense of accomplishment is improved student learning, the narrowing of the achievement gap and increased use of data analytics to identify how our students are experiencing their education and how they fare after graduation. Our district continues to enjoy the trust and support of our community. Our leadership, workforce and budget remain stable.”

Her plans upon leaving the board include a bid for a seat in the Washington Legislature in 2018.

“My goal has been to leave the district better than I found it, to build upon the work of those who served before me,” said Gillespie. “I hope that I have done that.”

“I want all of our students to be able to visualize a future that excites them and to act in ways that make that vision a reality.” —Kathy Gillespie