His encounters with blueberries, bell curves, and smelly eighth graders led him to two critical discoveries. First, we have a systems problem, not a people problem. We must change the system to get the graduates we need. Second, we cannot touch the system without touching the culture of the surrounding town; everything that goes on inside a school is tied to local attitudes, values, traditions, and beliefs.
Mr. Vollmer is the 2010 recipient of the Learning and Liberty Award presented annually by the National Public Relations Association in recognition of outstanding efforts to strengthen school/community relationships. Drawing on his work in hundreds of districts, Mr. Vollmer offers teachers, administrators, board members, and their allies a practical program to secure the understanding, trust, permission, and support they need to change the system and increase student success.