Director Spotlight: Donna Sinclair

All school board members are also members of WSSDA. We hope that shining a spotlight on individual school directors will contribute to a sense of community and connectedness among WSSDA’s members. These “director spotlights” are also a way to share knowledge and reveal the variety of backgrounds and perspectives among school directors. 

Donna Sinclair, Washougal School District

What do you do when you’re not being a school director?

You can often find me reading, prepping, grading, or Zooming in to WSU Vancouver or Western Oregon University to teach U.S. History, Gender & Public Policy, or Public History. I might be presenting the memoir I co-wrote with Gloria Brown, Black Woman in Green: Gloria Brown and the Unmarked Trail to Forest Service Leadership (OSU Press, 2020), or Zooming with students, colleagues or collaborators on community or political issues unrelated to the board. I might be preparing a blog post, working on a newsletter, planning my next book, or listening to a podcast or audio book as I walk my dogs or jog through the nearby woods. I have three children and two granddaughters, and am looking forward to spending time with them and my parents very soon!

What are one or two issues topics that are especially important to you and why?

My top issues are civic engagement, digital literacy, and equity and inclusion. I believe one of our most important jobs is to prepare students for citizenship by teaching them how government works and providing them the tools for informed, evidence-based decision-making. That means prioritizing solid implementation of the state’s civics mandate and, in our ever-shifting social media environment, teaching the critical thinking skills that allow them to make distinctions between good information and bad. This goes hand in hand with equity and inclusion and truth telling in our organizations and history. This is why I serve on WSSDA’s Government-to-Government Task Force, our district’s Equity Advisory Committee, and WSSDA’s Resolutions Committee.

What is the most important thing you’ve learned through your board service that you’d like to share with others?

I can’t choose one lesson only, so here are some of the most important things I’ve learned: serving on school board is an ongoing learning journey; good people of all backgrounds care about public education; we work together to advocate for the best interests of children, regardless of politics; as elected officials, we have a responsibility not only to listen to our constituents, but also to help them understand local governance; if you want to effect change, get involved and do the work; if we keep our priorities straight–the kids–good things will happen; the questions you ask matter because they can help shape policy outcomes; collaborative decision-making is worthwhile; public service is gratifying; each of us can make a difference.