Last month, IPS was proud to learn that the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) named Francis W. Parker School 56 a National Title I Distinguished School for Exceptional Student Performance for the 2012–2013 and 2013–2014 school years. Principal Christine Rembert credits this outstanding honor to the school’s former leader, Lauren Franklin, who now serves as principal of Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School. The school was one of only two schools in Indiana to receive such an honor. “Receiving this award means that Francis W. Parker joins other districts throughout the 50 states in making a difference in tomorrow’s future – our students,” says Bridgette Robinson, IPS Director of Federal and Special Programs.
The National Title I Association has chosen school programs for national recognition since 1996. Schools must exhibit exceptional student performance for two or more years or show evidence of closing the achievement gap between student groups to qualify for the program. A review of Title I schoolwide performance data over a three-year span was conducted by the IDOE staff to determine a list of eligible schools. Once the list was compiled, schools were granted the opportunity to provide a narrative highlighting their strongest programs and services, staff collaboration and family/community involvement. 
Francis W. Parker is a diverse Montessori school that strives to address students’ specific needs. The school provides wrap-around services through behavior and mental health supports, social work, consistent and relevant parent involvement initiatives, and a one-on-one mentorship connection for each student. The school community thrives on a wealth of support for students and families, despite the school’s 87% poverty level. Mr. Thomas Brown, Francis W. Parker educator of 20 years, is proud of this accomplishment. Brown feels the nurturing and collaborative school culture shows that “kids can achieve their goals regardless of their socioeconomic status, it doesn’t affect student success.” 
“As Superintendent, I see great teaching and learning happening across the Hoosier state— I applaud the students and educators at Francis W. Parker School – I know that they will continue to serve their communities, and our state, very well,” said Glenda Ritz, Indiana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction. Read the full press release from the IDOE. 
The school has big plans for the grant dollars that followed the award, “Funds will be used to purchase LightSail, an online supplemental literacy program, as well as much needed auxiliary trade books for our English/Language Arts instruction.  Indoor learning will move outside, as Francis W. Parker will purchase a natural play apparatus to enhance sensory, STEM and problem-solving curriculum.  Funds will also be used to supplement the school’s food pantry, community library and an in-house professional development day that will focus on integration of Montessori methodology and instruction,” says Robinson.
IPS educators and district administrators were invited to join other inspiring leaders in education from across the state at the National Title I Conference in Houston, Texas from January 28–31. Attendees will participate in quality professional development and keynote sessions to network and obtain knowledge on how to extend their reach as educators. “Although we have a small group representing our school at the conference, this will be an opportunity for my teaching leaders to gain knowledge in their practice and share that experience and information with their colleagues,” says Christine Rembert, Principal of Francis W. Parker.

We couldn’t be prouder of this team’s dedication to the students of IPS and wish them safe travels to and from Houston!