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Six Cape schools earn Five Star School Award

By Staff | Oct 2, 2010

Six Cape Coral schools out of a total of 22 Lee County schools were recognized this week for their outstanding parent/community involvement through the the Five Star School Award.
The Florida Commissioner of Education and the former Commissioner’s Community Involvement Council established the Five Star School Award to recognize the vital role the community plays in student success.
Volunteer Coordinator Linda Montgomery said research that has been done in the last 30 years has shown that when the community and parents are involved in children’s lives and education, they do better in school. She said students also have a higher graduation rate and go on and further their education.
Cape Coral Elementary, Challenger Middle School, Diplomat Middle School, Patriot Elementary School, Trafalgar Elementary School and Trafalgar Middle School were among the Cape schools that met the five areas of criteria to receive the award.
“This is the highest award for community involvement in the state,” she said.
Montgomery said Lee County is doing really well in earning the Five Star School Award. She said last year 17 schools received the award.
“Every year we want to increase that number,” Montgomery said.
The five areas that need to be met include the community/business partnership; family involvement; volunteers; student community service and the school advisory council. A school must achieve 100 percent of the required criteria to qualify for the award.
Montgomery said meeting all the criteria takes a lot of planning, which requires the school’s involvement throughout the year.
“It requires a lot of pre-planning and knowing that the whole school is on board with it so they can collect all the documentation,” she said.
Montgomery said the community and business partnership is met through a school maintaining an ongoing active relationship with local businesses, community groups and agencies. She said the school needs to have evidence of its involvement.
The family involvement portion of the criteria entails that the school provides programs for parents and families. Montgomery said the schools can provide training, support groups and different opportunities for parents to help their children do better in school.
The third portion is designated to volunteers, which Montgomery said holds a very strict criteria. She said schools that qualify for this portion of the award need to obtain a school base volunteer program that has its own training for faculty and staff.
The volunteer criteria also requires a school to have a minimum of volunteer hours twice the number of students enrolled in the school. She said, for example, if there are 500 students enrolled, a school must have 1,000 hours of volunteer time.
“Many schools go above and beyond that,” she said.
The student community service is when students at the school give back to the community through different service learning projects. She said students can give back by working on food drives and tutoring other students.
Montgomery said the criteria for the school advisory council includes that the school should have eight meetings during the year, which involves the community in the school improvement plan.
Each school maintains its own portfolio that contains the evidence of meeting each criteria. They also need to have a school grade of C or better.
The schools that received the Five Star School award will be recognized at the Oct. 19 school board meeting. They will receive a certificate from the commissioner of education and a banner that can be hung at their school.