State Superintendent awards Fort Middle School as one of six family-friendly schools in Georgia

Georgia Schools Superintendent Richard Woods presents Fort Middle School Sonja Matthews-Coaxum with the family-friendly school award.
Georgia Schools Superintendent Richard Woods presents Fort Middle School Sonja Matthews-Coaxum with the family-friendly school award.

COLUMBUS, Ga. – A local school is receiving high praise for building strong relationships with students’ families. Georgia state Superintendent Richard Woods rewarded Fort Middle School with a distinction only five other schools in the state received.

It’s not everyday that the top ranking education official in the state comes to win. Students at the Fort Service Learning Magnet Academy responded by adding a little pep in the their step, cheering on a packed gymnasium in a pep rally. Parents, faculty, and state lawmakers joined students to celebrate Fort as one of six family-friendly schools, as designated by the state superintendent.

Georgia Schools Superintendent Richard Woods presents Fort Middle School Sonja Matthews-Coaxum with the family-friendly school award.
Georgia Schools Superintendent Richard Woods presents Fort Middle School Sonja Matthews-Coaxum with the family-friendly school award.

“When you walk into the door, that welcome mat of saying we need you as parents to be involved in anything you want to do as a volunteer,” parent Cynthia Baker-Raleigh said. “They’re just open-minded about it and they welcome help from parents.”

Baker-Raleigh has a student at Hardaway High School, but she continues to voluneteer at Fort because she believes in investing in the school’s culture. Superintendent Richard Woods presented Fort principal Sonja Matthews-Coaxum with a plaque praising the promotion of parent partnerships.

“They’ve set the culture for anyone saying it’s a great place for a parent to take their child,” Woods said.

Woods addressed the fact that Fort is a Title I school. But he says education does not have to suffer just because Fort Middle is a must deal with problems other schools don’t have to deal with.

“[It’s] a little bit of a challenge, but it’s a challenge that can be overcome,” Woods told News 3.

“We are not bound by titles. We’re not bound by definitions,” Matthews-Coaxum said. “Although we’re a school with high poverty, it doesn’t mean that our students aren’t able to excel.”

Along with Fort Middle School, rounding out the list of the six family-friendly schools in Georgia include Buford Elementary School in Buford City, Hopkins Elementary School in Gwinnett County, Norton Elementary School in Gwinnett County, Peachtree Elementary School in Gwinnett County, and Woodward Elementary in DeKalb County.


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