Efforts to reach out to families of Gulfport Montessori Elementary School students have paid off with the school’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA) winning a much coveted excellence award from the national organization.
A banner displayed on a fence in front of the school designates Gulfport Elementary as a “National PTA School of Excellence,” and local PTA and school officials are proud of it.
“It’s really neat,” Principal James Pribble said Friday, September 25 after posing for a photo in front of the banner with students and PTA leaders. “It’s not about raising money for the school per se; it’s really about helping out the community. It helps our community become stronger.”
Gulfport PTA President Barbara Pace, whose grandson attends Gulfport Elementary, said her group was delighted with the award.
“Many hours are dedicated to the children of Gulfport Elementary /Montessori Academy by volunteers,” she said. “Our PTA Board is excited and honored to have been honored with this award and we accept it in the name of each child at our school.”
The “National PTA School of Excellence” award is a recognition program that supports partnerships between PTAs and schools to enrich the educational experience and overall well-being of all students, according to the program’s website.
Gulfport Elementary was one of only 18 schools in Florida and the only one in Pinellas County to receive the 2015-2017 award, Pace said. A total 124 schools across the nation were recognized.
The award is based on the results of questionnaires sent to families asking them whether they feel welcome at the school, whether they have a say in how their children are educated and whether they are communicating with and being heard by teachers and administrators, Pace said.
“The whole thing is about empowering families to become involved in their child’s education,” she said. “There’s the old stigma that the PTA is just about fundraising, and it’s not.”
Around 100 families currently participate in the PTA at Gulfport Elementary. The school has 665 students.
Programs sponsored by the Gulfport PTA recognize the tight budgets of many area families and are offered at little or no cost, Pace said. Among these are Girls on the Run, which fosters physical and emotional fitness in girls in grades 3 to 5, and Young Lions, which aims to increase self-esteem and pride and promote positive behavior, primarily among minority boys grades 3 to 5.
Other programs include a disaster-planning event held by the American Red Cross September 24 for children and their families, and upcoming, the Trunk or Treat dance party October 29, where families will decorate their trunks for safe trick or treating; the Scholastic Book Fair November 2 through 6; and the Gift of Reading event December 17.