DUNLAP — For the fifth consecutive year, Concord East Side Elementary has been granted the Family Friendly Schools designation by the Indiana Department of Education.
The program recognizes and honors schools that welcome all families into the school community, communicate effectively, support student success, speak up for every child, share power and collaborate with the community.
Concord East Side Elementary is one of only three schools in the state to have received the honor each year since the program’s inception.
“At Concord East Side, we recognize that student success hinges on home and school working together to provide a foundation of learning for our children,” Principal Shad Hartsough said. “Our teachers are in constant communication with parents to discuss how to best support their child and his or her learning.
“It’s a great honor for our students, our staff and our families to be recognized by the state for our efforts.”
Hoosier schools designated as “Family Friendly Schools” address the academic, physical, emotional and social needs of their students while providing needed resources and fostering the active involvement of families both in school and in the community, according to the Indiana Department of Education. The Family and Community Engagement initiative was launched in January 2015 by then-Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz.
Concord East Side Elementary was one of 25 schools in the state to be named a 2019-20 Family Friendly School. The application process includes a letter written by school leaders, surveys and additional information about the staff’s efforts to promote a partnership between families at home, at school and in the community.
School leaders have developed partnerships with Dunlap Lion’s Club, Bethel University, Faith United Methodist Church, ETHOS Science Center, NIPSCO, the National Weather Service and local emergency responders.
Throughout the year, Concord East Side hosts events designed to bring families to the school to interact with staff by participating in crafts, science experiments or a movie night. Staff also offer opportunities to help support parents in working with their child at home through programs including Anne’s Kits for Kids that supports students from underserved areas of the community.
Students, staff and families also participate in philanthropic events alongside other district buildings including Make-A-Wish fundraisers and Potter’s Marathon to benefit Riley Children’s Hospital.
Next year, Concord East Side Elementary plans to become A Leader in Me school. Through this program, students will be encouraged to develop their leadership skills using Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” Two other Concord schools – Concord Ox Bow Elementary and Concord Intermediate School – have already implemented this program at their buildings.
The Leader in Me Program will tie into other support programs already in place – including a Comprehensive Counseling Grant from the Eli Lilly Foundation – and will aid in teachers’ efforts to develop the whole child, Hartsough said.
“Our students, like many across the state, come from a variety of family backgrounds. They have emotional and social needs that, through the support of our staff and their families, can be developed into life skills that will carry them forward to success,” he said.