DCSD earns top honor in 2021 Magna Awards Program for Equity Work

DeKalb County School District Administration and Instructional Complex on Mtn. Industrial Blvd. in Stone Mountain. Photo by Dean Hesse

Stone Mountain, GA — DeKalb County School District (DCSD) has been named a National School Boards Association (NSBA) 2021 Magna Award winner, a press release announced.

DCSD was recognized for its commitment to equity as a first place winner in the 27th annual Magna Awards program. DCSD is one of 15 winners—three grand prize and 12 first place winners—across the nation that received this honor.

Sponsored by NSBA’s flagship magazine, American School Board Journal, the Magna Awards honor districts across the country for programs that advance equity and reduce barriers for underserved students. DCSD was selected as a winner by an independent panel of school board members, administrators, and other educators.

DCSD’s Parent and Family Engagement IMPACT Model for parent’s personal and professional growth and development has expanded service beyond Title I student academic support and compliance. The focus of the work is Involving and Motivating Parents to be Active Contributors over Time (IMPACT). The team addresses the most exigent areas of need that affect how, when, and where families become involved in the advancement of students.

The Family IMPACT Hub serves as the epicenter for service to DeKalb families. The facility develops and implements districtwide programs and initiatives in three components:

– The Parent Health Ambassador Program (PHAP) is a partnership between the county board of health and the district that educates parents on health and well-being policies. The Parent Leadership and Advocacy focus area provides parents and caregivers with information on student achievement, the workings of the school system, and skills in advocacy and educational support.

– The Parents as Leaders (PALs) Program is a tiered leadership development program for parents and caregivers to build capacity to support the academic success of their children.

– The Family Friendly School initiative has been developed to help schools create and maintain a positive learning climate that is friendly, inviting, and culturally sensitive.

The district has noted improvement in parent-teacher relationships and school environments through efforts to help schools become more family-friendly. Through wraparound services for families and consistent messaging about self-care and trauma-informed care, the district has seen increases in emotional and behavioral strengths and improved relationships among students and their peers.

“The district’s mission of supporting all families to be more involved in supporting their student’s academic career and staying informed about what children are learning in class has become our overarching strategy for improving learning and addressing the achievement gap. This award is very much deserved,” said DCSD Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris.

“2020 was unlike any other year,” said NSBA Executive Director and CEO Anna Maria Chávez. “The 2021 Magna Award-winning districts represent the enormous efforts of school leaders during the pandemic to continue removing barriers to achievement for their underserved and vulnerable students.”

DCSD is highlighted in the April issue of ASBJ. Read about the district’s award-winning program and the other winners at www.nsba.org/ASBJ.

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