Frances Willard Named a National PTA School of Excellence


September 16, 2014

Contact: Tammy Dodderidge, communications manager, (913) 279-2225

The National PTA has recognized Frances Willard Elementary School as a 2014–2016 National PTA School of Excellence. This designation demonstrates the school’s leadership nationwide and its commitment to partnering with families to support student success and continuous school improvement.

Frances Willard is one of only six schools in Kansas, and one of 170 from across the country, to receive this recognition. The Kansas State Board of Education recognized the schools on Tuesday, Sept. 16 at their regular meeting. To thank families, students and staff for their support and to celebrate this award, the school will hold a special celebration on Thursday, Sept. 18 at 6:30 p.m.

The National PTA School of Excellence designation is awarded when families feel the school has achieved a high level of engagement or when the PTA and school have made substantive, positive improvement in families’ perceptions since the beginning of the year. Research shows that when families and schools work together, student achievement increases, schools improve and communities grow stronger.

Frances Willard has long involved students in their PTA program, which is called a PTSA. The school’s PTSA president, Rachel Henderson, believes the involvement of the entire school community – parents, staff and students – is what contributes to an effective and thriving organization.

“Membership in PTSA is not the key, it’s involvement,” she said.

The school conducted surveys to find out how parents, students, and the community felt about their school and PTSA. Through the surveys, Frances Willard learned the importance of letting parents know what’s going on in the district (current and future plans). As a result, they began to communicate through newsletters, informational meetings, and phone messages. The surveys also showed that families have a common thread such as a love for reading. So PTSA launched a Kindle initiative. PTSA bought a class set for the library. They also developed a five-year plan so that each grade would have a set in the next five years, and gave away Kindles to families all year long at numerous events.

Last school year, the PTSA listened to students when they requested playground equipment. They supported students in conducting a fundraising program and surveyed students to allow them to select the equipment they wanted (a set of six swings).

The most recent initiative launched by the PTSA was a WatchDog program that brings dads (and other male family members) into the school to spend a day in the classroom.

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Melissa Fears • Communications Office
2010 N. 59th Street • Kansas City, KS 66104 • 913-279-2242