When West Chester, Ohio, school district administrators decided to build two new elementary schools—one of them Endeavor Elementary—they redrew boundary lines and reassigned students, teachers, and staff from several existing, successful schools. Before the new school even opened, Endeavor’s principal and parents acted quickly to form a parent group to help ease the transition for the 650 students and 60-plus staff members. As a group serving a Title I population, the PTO focused on free family events, both new and familiar. Parents manned a two-day science program, mentored students one on one in reading, and created an after-school program. For the teachers, volunteers assisted in the work room, media center, and cafeteria. And for staff appreciation week, staff members were given handmade, personalized notecards.

What the judges loved: PTO leaders drew on their experience as involved parents and put the focus in the right place—an impressive array of family events, great enrichment programs for students, and lots of care for the teachers. Fundraising was kept to a minimum, including a walkathon, skating parties, and partnerships with local restaurants. The result was a strong school community with a committed volunteer base.

Cool fact: Endeavor’s space shuttle-themed float earned second place out of 21 entries in the districtwide 50th anniversary parade last year.