Center of Excellence receives award from organization at John Hopkins

Melanie Mitchell, Editor-in-Chief

For the sixth year, the Francis Marion University (FMU) Center of Excellence
(COE) to Prepare Teachers of Children of Poverty earned the Partnership Organization
Award from the National Network of Partnership Schools (NNPS) at John Hopkins
The network gives the Partnership Organization Award to its members who
are successful at integrating the groups’ principles into schools and their communities
across the nation.
According to COE Associate Director Markey Bee, the center was recognized
again this year for the work they’ve done to aid schools across the state in building
strong relationships in the communities and between students and parents.
“We joined the Network in 2005 as part of training for children of poverty,” Bee
said. “We know what the research says about the involvement of parents and how
important it is to get parents involved and that it’s critical when working with children
of poverty.”
According to Bee, the NNPS was formed in 1996 by Dr. Joyce Epstein to help
support schools, districts, states and organizations that are interested in strengthening
programs to work with parents in the community. Bee said the network provides a
frame work and a way to help schools organize what they are already doing to reach
more parents.
“Life happens and [parents] have a lot of things on their plate and education
does not always have priority,” Bee said. “Schools have to really reach out in order to
reach parents and that’s what this program is really about. We help schools reach out to those parents that are sometimes hard to reach.”
Fifteen school districts across the state have partnered with the COE including
both Florence one and three districts. The schools within the partner districts have
access to join the NNPS and take part in a one day training seminar presented by the
Partner schools are required to create a one-year action plan that details their
intended methods of outreach while using the six types of involvement found in the
Epstein principles as guidance. At the end of the year, the Action Teams complete an
annual survey to chart and track their progress.
To help support partner schools that are making efforts to get parents more
involved, the COE gives Outreach Awards to help fund activities for parents to do with
their students that promotes education. A previous award recipient created a program
called “Launching the Library” where parents were encouraged to go with their children
to the library to get library cards and check out books.
Schools submit an application detailing the activity they have planned and how
it will reach parents and the community. From there, members of the COE vote and
award funds.
The center began accepting application for this year’s Outreach Awards on
Monday, Sept. 23 and expects to make the first series of awards on October 21.

The Epstein model, which is a part of the foundational principles of the COE, is integrated into the curriculum for all education majors at FMU. This in turn prepares students currently studying, to be teachers of children of poverty in their future careers. Students have the opportunity to get involved with the center by volunteering at events.  COE will host NNPS training on campus on Nov. 6. The center will also have a fall workshop in the coming weeks. To get involved and volunteer with these events, students should sign up in the COE, located on the second floor of Founders Hall (FH.)