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Five schools recognized as Family-Friendly Partnership School Award winners

MEDIA CONTACT: Meghan Frick, GaDOE Communications Office,, 404-463-4246

PROGRAM CONTACT: Dawn Scott, Family Engagement Specialist, 404-694-4209;,

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May 18, 2017 – Five Georgia schools have been identified as the 2017 winners of the Georgia Family-Friendly Partnership School (FFPS) Award. The winners were selected based on their exceptional customer service for Georgia families.

Each selected school has created a welcoming environment with courteous staff members who are eager to help students and their families. By welcoming parents, family members, and the community, the schools are building partnerships with families and community members to focus on student success. Each school also provides continuous outreach efforts for family engagement to successfully involve all families in the school.


“Parent engagement is an essential component of every successful school – it has an enormous impact not just on the individual child, but on every child in the school building,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “Schools can only build those partnerships when parents and families feel welcome in their child’s school – welcome to visit, to engage, and to be a part of the learning process. I commend each of our 2017 Family-Friendly Partnership Schools for providing that welcoming environment for parents and families.”

The winners are:

  • Bear Creek Middle School in Barrow County School System
  • East Fannin Elementary School in Fannin County School District
  • Elm Street Elementary School in Rome City Schools
  • Garden Hills Elementary School in Atlanta Public Schools
  • Mossy Creek Elementary School in White County School System

They were chosen from a pool of ten finalists. The five other schools named finalists are:

  • East Jackson Elementary in Jackson County School System
  • Georgia Cyber Academy, K-12 Virtual School
  • Sand Hill Elementary School in Carroll County School System
  • South Columbus Elementary School in Muscogee County School District
  • Vineville Academy of the Arts in Bibb County School District 

Each school applied to the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE)’s Parent Engagement Program describing the family engagement initiatives in their schools. The Family-Friendly Partnership Review Team scored the applications and ten finalists were selected. The ten schools were informed that members of the review team would call the school office and conduct a surprise visit sometime between February and April, posing as parents looking for information or assistance. The team conducted walkthroughs of each school and interviewed school staff, parents, students, and community members as part of the selection process. The review team is comprised of members from the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE), GaDOE’s divisions of Curriculum and Instruction, Federal Programs, and Special Education Services and Support, the Georgia Parent Mentor Partnership, the Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network, and a former parent leader from the Superintendent Woods’ Parent Advisory Council. 

Superintendent Woods will visit all five winning schools in the fall and will present a plaque to the school community. The winning schools will also receive a welcome mat for their front entrance. This initiative is organized by the GaDOE and sponsored by 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 Reynolds, 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 seminar is designed to assist the schools in increasing family engagement to help improve the academic achievement of students not only in their schools but also in other schools within their district.

Erwin Schinnerl, the general manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead, said: “Through The Ritz-Carlton Succeed Through Service program, our hotels continue the partnership with local schools and students in practicing transferable life skills for college and career paths. The general managers of The Ritz-Carlton hotels in downtown Atlanta and at Reynolds, Lake Oconee join me in congratulating the winners and finalists for cultivating a welcoming environment for all families in helping students to succeed.”

The 2016-2017 school year is the last year of the FFPS Awards. Starting in 2017-2018, the FFPS initiative will transition to focus on improving outcomes and helping school teams create welcoming environments, rather than an awards program.

Click here for more information on the Georgia Family-Friendly Partnership School Initiative and to view the previous winners and finalists since 2012.