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Posted September 8, 2014

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Cleveland, La Cueva Receive National PTA Award

Schools recognized for effectively building family-school partnerships.

Cleveland Middle School and La Cueva High School have been designated National PTA Schools of Excellence, an award recognizing achievement in building effective family-school partnerships

The ­­2014-2016 award, given to 170 schools nationally, aims to make measurable progress in the areas of education, health and safety, and arts and cultural exploration.

“I’ve seen this process (of applying for the award) truly solidify our school community with participation, awareness and, I believe, a sense of welcoming,” Cleveland Principal Susan LaBarge said. “Parents feel we want them to be a part of this school, even at an age when kids are saying no to this.”

Otha Thorton, president of National PTA said the efforts of these schools to engage and involve families are making substantial, positive impact on student success and well-being.

“National PTA Schools of Excellence are true examples of what can be accomplished when schools and families work together,” Thorton said.

To be considered for the award, PTAs evaluate their family engagement strategies and submit a goal for school improvement in coordination with the families, teachers, and administrators. The PTA Schools of Excellence designation is awarded to those family-school partnerships that demonstrate significant progress toward their set goal.

In order to create stronger family and school partnerships, Cleveland introduced family-friendly signs in multiple languages and began an ESL group for Spanish-speaking parents, taking them to PTA meetings to help them engage and feel more comfortable.

The school also hosts a “Report Card Pick Up Night” to give a positive interaction between parents and teachers, rather than the traditional parent-teacher conferences.

La Cueva’s PTA hosts multiple events throughout the year to engage the community, often including families of La Cueva’s feeder schools. During their open house, they teach family members who may be unfamiliar with the school’s website or computers how to stay in touch.

La Cueva’s PTA also sponsors “Project We Care,” a publication of parents who pledge that they will be present if their teen hosts a party and that drugs and alcohol will not be involved. Their PTA members dedicate more than 500 volunteer hours each month.

 “Our PTA is our outreach program in our community,” said La Cueva Principal Dana Richardson. “They are extremely supportive and their primary goal is doing what’s best for students through their involvement.”

During the course of the school year, the 170 PTA Schools of Excellence have shown a collective 53 percent increase in families that feel they always share power in decision-making related to student success and school improvements. They also showed at 102 percent increase in families that feel their school and PTA always speak up for every child.

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