Persistence pays off. Consider that Northlake Elementary had a record-breaking 98 percent of all parents participate in parent-teacher conferences last year – the result of Principal Denise Moulton and her staff calling reluctant parents repeatedly, rescheduling several times when necessary.

Such efforts have earned Northlake statewide recognition. The school was the only Lake Highlands school among the six Texas schools named to the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Statewide Recognition Program. This award is given by the Support for Academic Renewal Center, a regional assistance center that recognizes schools’ efforts to provide a safe campus that supports students in staying drug-free.

In addition to the rigorous drug-education for students, the school offers drug-education classes for parents.

“It has been our goal to involve parents in making this a safe school,” Moulton says. “We try to give everyone a lot of information.”

Mouton and her staff also recognized the needs created by a diverse population. For example, with a student body that is 20 percent Latino, they took steps to make information available to parents who do not speak English. The school newsletter is now printed in both Spanish and English, and English as a Second Language classes are offered to parents in the evening.

Winning schools receive a scholarship for one person to attend the Annual Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Conference to be held in Austin in February, where the schools will be formally honored.

Moulton cites the support of the school’s neighbors as key to Northlake’s success.

“The people who live in this neighborhood really want this to be a community, for both the homeowners and apartment residents who send their children to Northlake.”