Natural Leaders

En Español

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

21st C Marysville 2“I always have to remind people that the biggest ingredient in school performance is the teacher. That’s the biggest ingredient within a school. But the single biggest ingredient is the parent.” – President Barack Obama at Fox Senior High School in Missouri, April 29, 2009


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.

Immigrant parents face language and cultural barriers that complicate school interactions with schools. Immigrant parents often feel even more like outsiders than other parent groups, and they often have less knowledge than others of the “invisible codes of power” embedded in school cultures.

Presently, there are many parent engagement projects, but most are top-down, school-directed training programs teaching parents how to help their kids succeed. The Natural Leaders program is different.  Parents take on leadership roles and learn the skills needed to build relationships with families in their community, identify what helps these families be successful in the school system, and then implement these ideas.

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


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 schools districts. The Natural Leaders Program is cited by OSPI as a strategy for improving high school graduation rates for English learners.

For more information on the Natural Leaders Program, contact

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