When parents at the K-2 Plum Cove Elementary in Gloucester, Mass., learned that a redistricting plan would add three more grades to the school, they immediately established the Parent Teacher Co-op, choosing the motto "roots to grow." The PTC's top priorities were improving the playground, library, and school grounds to make them better suited to the new student body. It raised funds and a volunteer force to upgrade the existing playground equipment, to relocate a playground from an old school, and to landscape the school grounds. A Plum Cove neighbor with library experience took on the library project, organizing parent volunteers, shelving books, and applying for grants. When Plum Cove opened its doors in September, it looked like a well-established school.

What the judges loved: The PTC reached out beyond the school community to partner with volunteers from a senior citizens' group and a fisherman from the Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch who was filming in Gloucester.

Cool fact: For many years, the fate of Plum Cove Elementary was uncertain. At one point a consultant recommended that the school be sold on eBay! That didn't happen, fortunately.