Erika Higgins Ross

On Feb. 29, 2012, the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) presented the annual Hart Vision Award to the outstanding Charter Volunteer of the Year, Erika Higgins Ross, a parent from L.A.’s WISH Charter School, founded in the Westchester area of Los Angeles in 2010.

“It’s such an incredible experience to build a school from the ground up,” said Erika Higgins Ross. “WISH Charter is a dream come true. This means more to me than anything else - that my daughter is getting a wonderful education and we’re part of a community we can believe in.”

Ross helped to establish a school garden at the school and is an active parent leader, coordinating several different committees and working to involve parents from across the school. Her parents and husband are also active volunteers at the school. From rolling up her sleeves to help paint the school to doing outreach to local elected officials, Ross supports her daughter’s school on every level.

“As charter public school parents, we need to work together to show our representatives and our community why we support charter schools - and we need to bring them here and show them that this is what we’ve created. This isn’t for some kids - this is for all kids. All public education should be this great,” said Ross.

Past winners of the Hart Vision Volunteer of the Year Award include Brian Rogers from Lighthouse Community Charter School in Oakland (2011); Peter Trueblood from North Oakland Community Charter School in Oakland (2010); and Lindsay Sturman from Larchmont Charter School in Los Angeles (2009).

The Hart Vision Awards were established in 1995 in honor of Gary K. Hart, retired California State Senator and former California Secretary of Education. While serving as state senator, Hart sponsored the legislation that established California charter schools. The goals of the Hart Vision Awards are to recognize and honor annually individuals who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and excellence in education.

See Erika’s acceptance speech.