Though North Jackson has remained a rural community it has seen a rapid increase in families moving to the area with limited resources being available.
“There are 2,300 schools in the state of Georgia and North Jackson is one of the largest growing schools in Jackson County,” leaders stated.
Through North Jackson Elementary School’s “S.M.A.R.T. goals” the team has made several changes to make the school more family friendly. In 2017 they began their two-year process of implementing these new practices and programs.
On Thursday, Sept. 19, the school was chosen to receive the Family-Friendly Partnership Schools Initiative (FFPS) award from the Georgia Department of Education and Georgia Foundation for Public Education. The school was one of five academies who received this distinctive honor.
“This award is very limited in scope. Only five schools were part of this cohort this year,” stated Richard Woods, superintendent of the state of Georgia. “The award is based on how the school supports their families and children, what they are doing for outreach within their community, how they are serving the parents once they get to the school, how they support the students and parents during the school year and during transition and by providing parents with information and inviting them on board at the school.”
The programs are not solely focused on academics but provide many essentials to assist parents to better help their children to succeed.
“It’s not just based on academics, but it looks at the whole child in many different ways by meeting the needs of not only the child but also the parents,” said Woods.
One way the school is making an impact in the community is by providing its students with food backpacks which are available every Friday. A food bank and clothes closet are also available on site to provide its families with personal care items along with a laundry facility. The school also has replaced all directional signage in the building to multilingual and repurposed their conference room into a family area.
“Whether it is seeking challenging academic experiences for children or aiding in providing basic necessities, we feel that as a community school it is our calling to aid all families,” says Amy Bell, school counselor and family engagement specialist of NJES. “We want to be a community resource for all of our families.”
“These changes help to make our school a one stop shop for the community,” said Sara Mixon, media specialist.
After Richard Woods presented the award, the school team escorted Woods and special guests to view their before and after improvements and various welcoming aspects of their school environment that lead to student success and family engagement. The tour was led by assistant principal, Mishea Dean and counselor, Amy Bell.
Woods also visited classrooms and greeted the students along the way. Woods celebrated Constitution Week with the fourth-graders, giving each of them a pocket edition of the constitution. Woods joked with students that it was a “limited edition” since he had added his “John Hancock,” and then challenged them to learn what that meant.
Jenica Johnson, who has been the principal of NJES for two months, said, “I love it here. I immediately picked up on the family-friendly atmosphere and the value we put on our kids and families. That is very evident as soon as you arrive.”