One of those schools was Foster Park Elementary School which will receive an actual red carpet with the SC state seal to display in the lobby.
State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex announced the 124 winners of this year’s awards which have become highly prized by South Carolina schools.
“When you see a family-friendly school that emphasizes customer service, that school is much more likely to enjoy strong community support,” Rex said. “That’s important because community involvement can play a big role in a school’s academic success.”
A total of 262 schools began the Red Carpet award application process last fall. Applicants provided written details about their family-friendly philosophies and environments along with the methods used to promote and self-evaluate those efforts. They also were required to include copies of their school’s communication plan.
Schools that passed the written application phase were then screened by independent judges who rated how telephone callers and visitors were treated. Judges did not identify themselves during telephone calls or site visits and site visits were not announced in advance.
A Foster Park Elementary fourth-grade teacher—Susan Gilstrap — is set to graduate in July from Converse College with a degree in Administration and Supervision and part of the course work involves a 120-hour internship with an administrator.
Gilstrap completed her internship with Foster Park Elementary School principal Barbara Palmer.
“One of the things I did for the internship was help Mrs. Palmer write the application for this award,” Gilstrap said. “It took two months to write, and then we had to be prepared every day for the state department’s surprise visits and phone calls.”
“The State Department of Education usually sends a visitor who pretends to enroll a child,” Palmer said.
Frank White — Red Carpet coordinator — was pleased that this year had the largest number of recipients since the program began in 2001.
“The record number of applicants this year shows pretty clearly that schools understand the importance of customer service,” White said. “As local districts struggle to absorb dramatic budget cuts, schools realize that the support of their families and communities will be more important than ever. And the first step to building that support is creating a school environment that’s welcoming and inviting.”
Staff members from the Department of Education and school district personnel from across the state volunteered to take part in the judging process.
The Red Carpet Schools initiative was one of only two programs in the nation to receive a Distinguished Single Project Award from the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) in 2003.