Hightower Trail Elementary was named as one of five runners-up in the state for the 2013 Ga. Department of Education's Family-Friendly Partnership School award.
Four Georgia schools were been selected as the winners of the 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
They 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.
All four schools will be visited by Dr. Barge in the fall and will receive a plaque and a welcome mat for their front doors as part of the award. The award is sponsored by the GaDOE, along with the Georgia Foundation for Public Education 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 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."
The Family-Friendly Partnership School Award is given out 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 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.