Saturday, October 11, 2008

Kingsley Charter School Council named as National Parent Group of the Year

The Kingsley Charter School Council has been named National Parent Group of the Year in PTO Today's 2008 Parent Group of the Year search. The group was selected as winner from among hundreds of other parent group finalists, and is featured in the most recent issue of PTO Today magazine.

Kingsley, an elementary school in Dunwoody, is the first school from the state of Georgia to win this prestigious award. Another landmark for Kingsley - it is the first charter school in the nation to be recognized for this honor.

“It is an incredible thrill and honor to have been selected for this award,” said Tom Lambert, who served as the chair of Kingsley’s charter council during the 2007-2008 school year. “To have our hard work and accomplishments be recognized at this level – as the best in the nation – is an incredible feeling that is hard to put into words. Needless to say all of our parents are busting with pride over this announcement.”

“Our Parent Group of the Year search gives us a chance each year to celebrate and formally acknowledge the work parent groups do in their schools and communities," says Craig Bystrynski, Editor in Chief of PTO Today magazine. “Engaging parents in the educational process is the single most important thing a parent group can do.”

The cornerstone of Kingsley’s charter is the philosophy that involved parents make great schools, an idea that is ingrained into the culture of the school.

“You can’t help but get involved,” said Allegra Johnson, current chair of Kingsley’s charter council. “Not only are the opportunities there, but so are the welcoming arms of those proud parents who have already served and want you to be included.”

Kingsley principal Karen Graham appreciates the difference her school’s parents make in both the learning/teaching process and the success of the students.

“Being a principal of a school with active parents is very busy and very rewarding,” said Graham. “The parents at Kingsley are very resourceful and have great ideas. My day-to-day interactions with parents help me become a better school leader and a better person.”

The parent leadership at Kingsley is a bit unique in that the school does not have a formal PTA. Kingsley’s charter council serves the dual role of a traditional PTA and a traditional school council. Although this is a big responsibility, it allows the school to consistently move forward at a quick pace and with a singular focus.

“Our parents set out to accomplish very specific and ambitious goals,” said Graham. “When the school year was over, every goal was accomplished. Parent Group of the Year is a well deserved honor for a group of parents who worked so hard to improve and make a difference in their child's school.”

Some of those projects include installing new sod on the playground, creating a new image via a new parent-designed school logo, creating a Parent Headquarters within the school, upgrading the teachers' lounge, installing a new school sign, a campaign to purchase and install interactive white boards in the classrooms, sponsoring a school-wide event to celebrate its diversity, and increasing the number of volunteer hours. It was the final goal – volunteer hours – that made everything else possible, as Kingsley’s families logged over 8,000 hours in service to the school (an average of 32 hours per family).

“We have accomplished so many wonderful things at Kingsley over the past 12 months, but this year wasn’t a flash in the pan,” assured Lambert. “It is also important to recognize that we were building off of the foundation that had been set for us by former council members and the parents that came before us at Kingsley. We were continuing a long standing tradition of parental service at Kingsley, one that I am confident will continue to grow and strengthen in the future.”

Perhaps what makes Kingsley so successful is the fact that the motivation behind all of this parental service is sincere and student focused. There is a noticeable lack of ego surrounding the work the parents do at the school.

“We were just doing what we thought would make Kingsley a better school for our children, not for the recognition,” said Johnson.

That’s not to suggest that the award, and the recognition that goes along with it, are not appreciated.

“Our parents put in so many volunteer hours every year - they work with the teachers and go above and beyond what is expected - but never look back waiting for a pat on the back,” said Johnson. “This award was a fantastic way to say WOW! - thank you for what you do.”

Crier Article regarding award.

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