By Kris Garst, European Parent-Teacher AssociationAugust 26, 2014
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - National PTA has recognized Grafenwoehr Elementary School and Grafenwoehr Elementary School PTA as a National PTA School of Excellence for their achievement in building effective family-school partnerships.
Research shows that when families and schools work together, student achievement increases, schools improve and communities grow stronger. Being recognized as a National PTA School of Excellence demonstrates Grafenwoehr Elementary School and Grafenwoehr Elementary School PTA's leadership and commitment to partnering to support student success and continuous school improvement.
"The partnership between Grafenwoehr Elementary School and Grafenwoehr Elementary School PTA is a true example of what can be accomplished when schools and families work together," said Otha Thornton, president of National PTA.
"Grafenwoehr Elementary School and Grafenwoehr Elementary School PTA have put strong practices into place that involve families in the life of the school, and we are pleased to recognize them as a National PTA School of Excellence."
National PTA launched its National PTA School of Excellence program to help strengthen family-school partnerships across the country and make measurable progress in the areas of education, health and safety, and arts and cultural exploration.
At a National PTA School of Excellence, families feel welcomed and empowered to support student success, and PTA is a key partner for continuous school improvement.
To be recognized as a National PTA School of Excellence, PTAs evaluate their current family engagement strategies and submit a goal for school improvement that families, teachers and administrators have set together. They improve upon their family engagement strategies throughout the year, while focusing on their goal.
The National PTA School of Excellence designation is awarded with demonstrated improvement in the family-school partnership and significant progress toward their goal.
During the 2013-2014 school year, the Grafenwoehr Elementary School PTA partnered with the school to run a yearlong health and wellness program that encouraged family participation through events like family fun runs; an Energy Balance night that brought members of the garrison community to the school for demos of a variety of activities, such as PT, yoga, belly dancing and jump roping; a Family Zumba Night; and Breakfast for the Brave, a schoolwide event that invited parents to come and share a healthy breakfast with their students at the beginning of the school day.
Families were also invited to take an Energy Balance Pledge that encouraged families to participate in 90 minutes of fun, physical activity and to eat at least three sit-down meals together each week. All of these events were supported by a $2,000 Healthy Lifestyles Energy Balance 101 grant from National PTA.
Grafenwoehr Elementary also hosted two events for National PTA's annual Take Your Family to School Week with the assistance of a $1,000 Take Your Family to School Week grant.
Through this program, students and their families enjoyed a Family Reading Night where each student was able to select and take home a free book.
The PTA also hosted a free performance of "Eddie 'N Friends," a short play about elementary-age kids and how they can deal with bullying, written and performed by the Grafenwoehr Performing Arts Center's Sadie Burger.
To celebrate their achievements, National PTA presented Grafenwoehr Elementary School and Grafenwoehr Elementary School PTA with a National PTA School of Excellence banner.
For more information about the National PTA School of Excellence program, visit PTA.org/excellence.
Editor's Note: Kris Garst is the president of the European Parent-Teacher Association.