Welch Elementary honored as State Family-Friendly Partnership School

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From Coweta County Schools Press Release

Coweta County’s Welch Elementary School has been named as a 2019 “Georgia Family-Friendly Partnership” School (FFPS) by state Superintendent Richard Woods.

Woods visited the school on Tuesday to announce the honor.  Welch is one of only four schools statewide to be awarded the FFPS designation by the Superintendent’s office.  It is also only the second Coweta school to win the FFPS award, following Moreland Elementary School’s designation in 2014.

Three other Georgia schools were also honored with the 2019 Family-Friendly Partnership distinction, including North Jackson Elementary in Jackson County, Roberts Elementary in Paulding County, and Hodge Elementary in the Chatham-Savannah County School System.

On Tuesday, State Superintendent Woods visited Welch with Dawn Scott, the Family Engagement Specialist with the Georgia Department of Education’s Family School Partnership Program, to make the announcement.

“We are very excited and very honored,” said Welch Elementary School Principal Janice Smith.  “We’re thrilled to have ‘family-friendly’ attached to our name.”

“Welch has been very intentional in their effort to develop an even stronger collaboration among students, faculty and parents,” said Superintendent Steve Barker.  “Their work has been evident in the school’s culture and the environment throughout the building.  I am pleased to see them receive this state recognition.”

This year’s recipients of the Family-Friendly award were selected to recognize schools that work exceptionally well with families and communities to create welcoming environments that lead to increased student achievement. The state seeks schools which have created a welcoming environment for parents, family members, and the community, and schools that are building partnerships with families and community members to focus on student success.

Welch has spent two years working in partnership with the state Department of Education on an initiative with that focus.  The school has developed a series of family curriculum nights aimed at increasing parent participation.  The monthly events include an family evening event focused on core subject areas, such as literacy, math, international themes, STEAM (science, technology, engineering arts and math subjects) and state Milestones testing. The school also received unannounced visit from Department of Education review teams as part of the initiative.

The events have helped produce significantly growth in family participation in parent participation since 2017, and has also helped the school focus on developing a culture centered on families, said principal Smith.

“It’s our belief that we are a team with our families,” said Smith.  “We want them to know us and feel comfortable coming into our building. Our school administration has developed an open door policy so parents know they can come to us with concerns and input. The point is to build relationships not just with students, but parents and whole families.  And once we do that, the relevance and rigor will follow.”

State Superintendent Richard Woods visited Welch Elementary to announce the school as one of four 2019 Georgia Family-Friendly Partnership Schools.  Above, left to right, are Coweta Senator Matt Brass, Coweta Superintendent Steve Barker, Dawn Scott of the Georgia Department of Education, state State Superintendent Woods, Welch Principal Janice Smith, Welch teacher Tiffany Fowler, instructional coach Jennifer Eriksen, teacher Lori Beuttenmuller, and Welch receptionist Carol Carroll.

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