Erika Higgins Ross, a parent from the WISH charter school in Westchester, has received the Hart Vision Award for Charter Volunteer of the Year from the California Charter Schools Association.

Ross helped to establish a school garden at the school where she is an active parent leader, coordinating several different committees and working to involve parents from across the school, officials said.

“She works to show parents that any work they do is really powerful for kids and really listens to them so they can find their niche,” said Shawna Draxton, principal of WISH charter. “She’s a true leader and we’re so lucky to have her at WISH and to learn from her.”

Ross said of her volunteer work at WISH, “It’s such an incredible experience to build a school from the ground up. 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’ parents and husband are also active volunteers at the school. School officials note she supports the school on a variety of levels, from rolling up her sleeves to helping paint the school and doing outreach to local elected officials.

“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,” said Ross.