What Does it Take to Become a School of Excellence?

By Amy Weinberg

Is there something at your school that you’d like to improve? Or, is something great already happening and you want it to be recognized?

Through the National PTA School of Excellence program, PTAs partner with their schools to examine how families feel the school measures up to the research-based indicators of the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships. PTAs and schools then work together to address barriers and create new ways for families to support student success. The National PTA School of Excellence designation is awarded when a PTA and school have achieved a high level of family engagement or when a PTA and school have made substantive, positive improvement in families’ perceptions by the end of the school year.

National PTA is pleased to recognize 143 schools and PTAs from across the country as 2017-2019 National PTA Schools of Excellence for their leadership and accomplishments nationwide in building strong, effective family-school partnerships! 

In addition to the National PTA School of Excellence designations, National PTA also recognizes the following three PTAs with the Phoebe Apperson Hearst Awards for Innovation in Family Engagement—the highest honor presented by the association. The Phoebe Apperson Hearst Awards for innovation in family engagement, named after National PTA co-founder Phoebe Apperson Hearst, recognize and celebrate achievement in building effective family-school partnerships. The awards are presented to PTAs that have earned the National PTA School of Excellence designation and demonstrated outstanding success engaging families in student success and school improvements.

2017 Phoebe Apperson Hearst Outstanding Family-School Partnership Award—Cobb Middle School PTA, Frisco, Texas

Cobb Middle School PTA encouraged a climate of welcoming families by creating signage by students, parents and staff as well as by translating messages and meetings. They celebrated diversity with a Multicultural Night where families hosted country-themed tables with food and cultural information.

To improve student success, the PTA worked collaboratively to strategize ways to increase test scores for all students and directly involved the students in the process. They offered workshops to improve communication and well-being to enhance educational outcomes.

Members of the Cobb Middle School PTA spoke up for every child by attending the Texas PTA Rally Day to communicate priorities and make their voices heard to legislators at the Texas Capitol. They also encouraged families to learn how their district makes decisions and get involved to advocate for their children and community.

2017 Phoebe Apperson Hearst Family-School Partnership Award of Merit—Forest Park High School PTSA, Forest Park, Ga.

Forest Park High School PTSA communicated effectively by attending staff and county board meetings to learn how best to involve parents and students in the learning process and to bring valuable information back to their families.

Student success was supported by serving meals and answering questions during parent-teacher conferences and by inviting community partners and leaders to speak at PTSA meetings. A student forum was implemented which allowed their students to directly address the school’s principal with any of their concerns. By implementing a Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund program and creating a Hispanic Involvement group, Forest Park High School PTSA engaged and involved more of their Hispanic families.

In speaking up for every child, the Forest Park High School PTA first attended the 2016-2017 Convention Leadership Training Conference and took PTA University classes to learn the importance of advocacy in ensuring that their students and families were afforded educational opportunities. They joined in the Georgia PTA Day at the Capital annual event and met with many House and State representatives.

“We have educated, demonstrated and shown our school and community what a difference an outstanding PTSA  support team can make within the school.”

2017 Phoebe Apperson Hearst Family-School Partnership Award of Merit—Maritime and Science Technology Academy (MAST), Miami, Fla.

Through the School of Excellence program, MAST PTSA chose the goal of ensuring health and safety for all students through emergency preparedness, school and personal safety. As a direct result of their efforts, there is now additional security staff and infrastructure in and around the school.

MAST PTSA shares power by helping to develop the School Improvement Plan and holding regular meetings with the Principal. They established a Sustainability Committee that developed a sustainability plan for the local U.S. Department of Homeland Security office earning… biodegradable cafeteria trays and a solar telephone charging station.

To collaborate with the community, the MAST PTSA worked with partners to secure grants and donations for teacher appreciation, a PTSA College Night and to host their Fundraising Gala. They also established a relationship with the University of Miami to develop and implement a sustainability plan.

“MAST PTSA is truly an extension of our school, their support and dedication to our students and faculty is unremitting.” – Josephine Otero, Principal

Congratulations to our 143 2017-2019 School of Excellence designees and 2017 Hearst Award Winners! Interested in becoming a National PTA School of Excellence? Learn more at PTA.org/Excellence. 

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