Mallory Roberts and Deanna Spencer smile for a photo

Mallory Roberts and Deanna Spencer

Two people led Betsy Layne Elementary’s (Floyd County) effort to be recognized as a Family Friendly School by the Prichard Committee: school counselor Mallory Roberts and Family Resource Director Deanna Spencer. We assembled our members and walked them through the process: trainings, scoring, what it means to be Family Friendly and so forth.

Once our team completed the scoring process, trainings and discussion, the two of us sat together to complete the application, provide evidence and write our narratives explaining how our school scored in each category. We also discussed areas for improvement and what we could gain from this experience. 

The initiative was first discussed at a meeting our district leaders held with principals in our county. Our principal came back to the two of us, and he said it sounded like a great opportunity for our school to showcase the work our teachers, community members and leaders were doing within and outside the walls of our school. He also felt it would be a great way to gauge where we were as a school and to see where we needed to improve. When we explored the website and what Family Friendly Schools was all about, we knew it was something we wanted to pursue. 

First, we assembled our committee members and made sure they were willing to be a part of this work. Once they were on board, we held a meeting to do the initial scoring to determine if our school was even eligible. All members scored the school individually in each category. Then, we came together to discuss what we gave our school, get an average and then discuss evidence we each saw that proved the rankings we gave.  After that, we completed the training on Family Friendly Schools, and discussed what ways our school could improve going forward. We looked at the walk-through document and utilized it to help us determine successful areas within our school. Together, Deanna and I completed the application using the committee’s scores and comments. We sat together to write the narratives for each objective and provide the evidence. Basically, we put the pieces of the puzzle together to create a final application. 

We had heard about Family Friendly Schools in the past, but we were not sure about the process or even if it was obtainable for our school. Once the principal told us what he had learned from our district leaders and we researched the website for more information, we understood it was something our school could possibly achieve or at least wanted to meet and see how we could grow. Once we formed the committee and heard some of the ideas we could implement in the future, we were excited because we knew this work was going to lead to our school improving in more ways than one. 

The certification process was detailed and easy to follow. The steps were well-developed and explained on the website, so it was not hard for us to follow the process. The Prichard Committee members were available for support at all times. They even held a virtual meeting with us to answer questions that we had. They were greatly involved in the process and willing to help in order to see a school succeed. This was a team effort and that made it such an enjoyable experience. 

We found, through this process, that our school was already implementing so many neat things within our school. We knew we were working hard, but until we started writing our narratives and gathering our evidence, we did not truly understand what areas we were thriving in and how our work was impacting our school and community. We did not have to change anything about our practices while completing the process, but it did make us aware of areas that we were not as successful in and needed to improve in the future. 

Moving forward, our school would like to continue to renew our Family Friendly Certification each year to ensure we are striving to be the best we can be. We also want to look at the areas we feel we are lacking in and improve them in the coming year and years. We feel this process is one that will keep us reaching for more goals and continuing on a path to excellence in our school and district.