Natural Leaders

  • Natural Leaders serve as multi-cultural bridges between students, families, communities, and schools.

    Research has consistently shown students’ success to be highly correlated with the level of their parent engagement. When parents are involved, students achieve more, regardless of socio-economic status, ethnic/racial background, or the parents’ education level.

    Parent engagement programs are oftentimes top-down school-directed training programs that teach parents how to help their kids succeed in their education. These programs are designed in ways that are assumed to be best for families, however we don’t always know what would be best without centering family voices first. The WABS Natural Leaders Program takes a different approach.

    The Natural Leaders Program uses an asset-based model to help families identify and cultivate the skills necessary to overcome systemic barriers. Parents take on leadership roles in order to build stronger relationships with families and their children and identify best practices. They then take action in order to help families be successful in the school system and implement their ideas in partnership with the schools.

    How the Natural Leaders Program Works:

    • Currently, our online training academy consists of a 1.5-hour session, once per week, for 5 weeks. The training academy is held twice per year at this time.
    • These trainings are open to school staff and parents; however, parent leadership will be centered.
    • Natural Leaders training highlights effective collaboration between families and staff.
    • Parents become empowered through leadership and social-emotional learning. They then work together to implement them into their school communities. Staff learn ways to center intercultural families and let them take the lead. 
    • For more information on how to get started, see our downloadable Natural Leaders One Pager

    What Are Natural Leaders:student listening in class

    Natural Leaders are multi-cultural families who want to learn more about the education system to support partnerships between families, community and schools.

    They are leaders in their community that work as a team with family advocates, family support centers, and school staff to:

    1. Build relationships with families
    2. Listen to families ideas on how to help their children be successful in school
    3. Bring families and schools together to plan/implement the families' ideas


    The Natural Leaders program has been growing for sixteen years – it was developed by WABS in 2003 with parents in Shoreline, Everett, Edmonds, Mukilteo and Northshore schools with funding from an OSPI Readiness to Learn grant. Further support in 2011 from the Discuren Foundation helped expand the program into Marysville and Monroe school districts. The Natural Leaders Program is cited by OSPI as a strategy for improving high school graduation rates for English learners.

    Participating School Districts

    • Edmonds School District
    • Everett Public Schools
    • Highline Public Schools
    • Kent School District
    • Lake Washington School District
    • Marysville School District
    • Mukilteo School District
    • Northshore School District
    • Renton School District
    • Seattle Public Schools
    • Shoreline Public Schools
    • Tacoma Public Schools


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