|ATLANTA - Five Georgia schools have been selected as 2015 winners of the Georgia Department of Education’s (DOE's) Family-Friendly Partnership School Award. DOE officials say 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 online. 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 are truly models for the entire state regarding parent engagement,” said state School Superintendent Richard Woods. “They open the door for other schools to see the positive results that can be achieved when families are seen as true partners in their child’s education. I offer my congratulations and thanks to all of the winners and finalists.”
The winners are:
• Campbell Elementary School in Fulton County
• Centerville Elementary School in Houston County
• Chestatee Elementary School in Forsyth County
• Harris Elementary School in Gwinnett County
• Ware County High School in Ware County
They were chosen from a pool of nine finalists. The four other schools named finalists are:
• Bear Creek Middle School in Barrow County
• Clinch County Middle School in Clinch County
• Moore Middle School in Gwinnett County
• Teasley Middle School in Cherokee 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.
All five schools will be visited by Superintendent Woods and will receive a plaque and a welcome mat for their front entrance. The award is sponsored by the GaDOE, along with the Georgia Foundation for Public Education, Georgia Association of Educators and three Ritz-Carlton hotels in Georgia: The Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta (Downtown); The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead; and The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation on Lake Oconee. Teams from each of the winning 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.
“Through The Ritz-Carlton Succeed Through Service program, our hotels partner with schools that serve a disadvantaged community. Our goal is to instill in the students the vision of a successful future if they remain in school,” said Erwin Schinnerl, general manager, The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead. “The general managers of our Ritz-Carlton hotels in downtown Atlanta and at Reynolds Plantation share the hope that the family-friendly schools program will successfully encourage academic achievement of their students.”
Schools that were named finalists, but who do not win the award, will receive the option for specialized support from the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE) to further develop the welcoming environments in their schools and increase their chances of winning the award in the future.
“Having been a sponsor for the Family-Friendly Partnership School Initiative for several years, The Georgia Association of Educators has found it to be very gratifying to assist local schools in developing a welcoming environment for the community’s public schools” said GAE President, Dr. Sid Chapman.
“The first impression is a lasting impression in any situation; the first impression of any public school should be that of a welcoming and inviting environment. GAE is delighted to continue its support of this program!”.
The Family-Friendly Partnership School Award is awarded annually to up to 10 schools that go above and beyond to make families feel welcome and work to engage parents in their children’s education.
Schools can begin applying for next year’s Family-Friendly Partnership School Awards in August. To apply, a school must be Title I - which means it receives additional federal dollars due to its high percentage of low-income students to help those students meet the school’s educational goals. Schools also must not be designated as Priority or Focus schools under the state’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act waiver.
For more information on the Georgia Family Friendly Partnership School initiative or to apply, go to http://www.gadoe.org/School-Improvement/Federal-Programs/Pages/Georgia-Family-Friendly.aspx