The Hamilton County Council of Parent-Teacher Associations presented 12 awards to local schools, principals and PTAs in April.
-- Elementary School Principal of the Year: LaFredrick Thirkill, Orchard Knob Elementary School
-- Middle School Principal of the Year: Brent Eller, Loftis Middle School
-- High School Principal of the Year: Tobin Davidson, Sale Creek Middle-High School
-- Elementary School Mary Jo Clark PTA of the Year: Nolan Elementary School
-- Middle School Mary Jo Clark PTA of the Year: Soddy-Daisy Middle School
-- High School Mary Jo Clark PTA of the Year: East Hamilton Middle-High School
-- Most volunteer hours for a Hamilton County magnet school: Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences - 14,893.5 hours
-- Most volunteer hours for a nonmagnet Hamilton County school: Nolan Elementary School - 11,685 hours
-- Largest PTA membership in Hamilton County: Nolan Elementary
-- Largest PTA percentage membership increase in Hamilton County: Hixson Middle
-- Largest PTA membership according to enrollment in Hamilton County: Nolan Elementary
-- Hamilton County PTA Sigrid Stewart "Friend of PTA" award: Frank Chambers, Youth Fund Alliance
This year, the Hamilton County Council of PTAs took home several statewide awards, including:
-- Tennessee PTA School Decision Making Award, Award of Excellence
-- Tennessee PTA Advocacy Award, Award of Merit
-- Tennessee PTA Collaborating with the Community Award, Award of Merit
-- Tennessee PTA Communicating Award, Award of Merit
-- Tennessee PTA Student Learning Award - Council - Award of Merit
-- Tennessee PTA Mary Jo Clark Volunteer Service Award, Award of Merit
-- Tennessee PTA Council Award of Merit
Whether it's foreign language classes, chess club or after-school science experiments, there's always something happening at Nolan Elementary.
Dozens of parents, grandparents and community members reguarly pitch in at the Signal Mountain school. On any given day it's not unusual to see 30-plus volunteers wandering the hallways. So many people help out that the front office regularly runs out of visitor badges.
And much of that activity is due in part to Nolan's Parent-Teacher Association, which was named the 2013 Tennessee PTA of the Year.
PTA President Scottie Summerlin said parents have a duty to help their kids' schools in whatever way they can. And that effort usually pays off.
"There have been many years of research that the more parental involvement you have in your school, the better your school is and the better your test scores are," she said.
That community support, along with a dedicated faculty. are what make Nolan a successful school, said Principal Shane Harwood.
"You put those two things together and you can really do some things academically," he said.
When groups like PTA or the Mountain Education Foundation supplement the school's offerings, it allows teachers and administrators to focus more time and energy on what really counts : the classroom.
"Anytime you can have positive people supporting your common mission and goal, it definitely takes a load off of you," Harwood said.
Nolan's PTA has been an active one for years.
But Summerlin said she hopes to take lessons learned there and help other parent groups across the county replicate some of Nolan's successes and get the word out about good things happening at their schools.
"We want to help all schools have what Nolan Elementary has," she said.
Contact staff writer Kevin Hardy at khardy@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6249.