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Georgia Department of Education Selects Four Schools as Family-Friendly Partnership School Award Winners

MEDIA CONTACT: Matt Cardoza, GaDOE Communications Office, (404) 651-7358,   

Michelle Sandrock, Parent Engagement Program Manager, Phone: (404) 232 – 1148,   

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 April 7, 2014 – Four Georgia schools have been selected as the 2014 winners of the Georgia Department of Education’s 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 online. The schools have welcoming staff members, comfortable waiting areas, clear signage, and engaging student work throughout the building.

Family Friendly

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,” said State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge. “They are models for the entire state when it comes to engaging families and making parents feel welcome from the moment that they walk in the door. I offer my congratulations and thanks to all of the winners and finalists.”

The winners are:

  • Cumming Elementary School in Forsyth County
  • Golden Isles Elementary School in Glynn County
  • Midway Elementary School in Forsyth County
  • Moreland Elementary School in Coweta County
They were chosen from a pool of ten finalists. The six other schools named finalists are:
  • ​Buford Elementary School in Buford City
  • East Broad K-8 School in Chatham County
  • G.H. Hopkins Elementary School in Gwinnett County
  • Lanier County Elementary School in Lanier County
  • Louisville Middle School in Jefferson County
  • Matilda Harris Elementary School in Camden 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.Caption Text.png

All four schools will be visited by Dr. Barge and will receive a plaque and a welcome mat for their front entrance. The award is sponsored by the GaDOE, along with 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 Lodge, Reynolds Plantation on 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 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.”


Schools that were named finalists, but who do not win the award, will receive the option for specialized support from the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE) to further develop the welcoming environments in their schools and increase their chances of winning the award in the future.


“The concept of ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ has proven itself time and time again, especially in today’s hi-stakes educational environment,” said Calvine Rollins, GAE President. “Creating an open, inviting environment with a school and its community feeds into that concept and goes a long way toward removing just one more obstacle to helping students meet the expectations we have for them. GAE is excited to be able to offer this training to those schools that share this vision and have put forth the effort to include the community in the plans for success.”


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 to 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