ATLANTA - Four Georgia schools, including Gainesville's Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy, have been selected as the 2013 winners of the Georgia Department of Education's Family-Friendly Partnership School Award.
The winners were selected because they represent the best in customer service for Georgia families, whether it's on the phone, in the front office or on the Internet. The schools have welcoming staff members, comfortable waiting areas, clear signage and engaging student work throughout the building.
They have easy-to-navigate websites and are forging partnerships with parents to help improve student achievement. The schools also provide unique, engaging and innovative parent engagement programming that is successful in reaching all families in the school.
"The schools that won this award understand the importance of what welcoming environments bring to student success. Truly, they are models for the entire state on how to engage families and make parents feel welcome from the moment that they walk in the door," said State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge.
The winners are:
·Enota Multiple Intelligence Academy in Gainesville City
·Shiloh Middle School in Gwinnett County
·St. Simons Elementary School in Glynn County
·Woodstock Elementary School in Cherokee County
The four schools were chosen from a pool of nine finalists. The five other schools named finalists are:
·Fort Service Learning Magnet Academy in Muscogee County
·Hightower Trail Elementary School in Rockdale County
·Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary in Clarke County
·Shiloh High School in Gwinnett County
·Snellville Middle School in Gwinnett County
Each school received phone calls and visits from "parents" looking for information or assistance. They also received a walk-through by department staff, which conducted interviews with school workers, parents, students and community members as part of the selection process.
In a document announcing the winners, Enota MI Academy was described as follows:
"Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy knows the importance of developing a strong school community which is why they have created their own family‐friendly town within the school called Smartville, USA. Charged with supporting a diverse population of 800 students and a free or reduced meal rate of 65%, the school's unique, easy to navigate learning atmosphere is not the only creative practice used to engage families - their innovative programming and positive attitudes are also the key to success!
"When speaking about family engagement, Principal Dr. Matt Maynor describes the school's philosophy as 'we accommodate parents, not ourselves.' Parents are welcomed into the school building at any time and do not need an appointment. Individual parent tours of the school are scheduled throughout the year at various times to accommodate parent schedules. The school holds multiple parent events and workshops, usually once in the morning and once in the evening to
ensure that all parents have the opportunity to attend and receive information that will help them to support their children's success in the classroom. Most notably, the school has partnered with an apartment complex in its school attendance zone where teachers and administrators deliver the Scholastic Read and Rise program curriculum to foster sustainable and systematic literacy engagement with families in their own community.
"Teachers and school staff foster a sense of community in the school building by saying hello and engaging in regular conversation with family and community members alike. Parents are spotted throughout the day participating in school actuvities, volunteering in classrooms, mentoring children, or helping the
school's parent involvement coordinator. The school's parent resource center also provides online English classes to parents, which many families utilize regularly."
All four schools will be visited by Superintendent Barge in the fall and will receive a plaque and a welcome mat for their front doors as part of the award.
Teams from each of the schools also will get the chance to learn more about providing welcoming environments during a professional learning seminar hosted by The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center. The seminars are designed to help the schools increase parent engagement to help improve the academic achievement of students.