The national PTA has certified Merriman Park Elementary as a Parent Involvement School of Excellence, an award honoring campuses with excellent parent-school partnerships.

“It is a great recognition,” Merriman Park PTA president Fran Phillips says. “We are very proud to receive an honor that recognizes the strong commitment that our parents have to our neighborhood school.”

More than 250 schools are certified nationwide, 38 of them in Texas. Students who attend school with high parent involvement are more successful, according to the National PTA.

“The certification program is an unprecedented opportunity for all schools to achieve excellence and be recognized for their dedication and their parent involvement,” National PTA president Linda Hogue says.

Merriman Park principal Jennifer Martin says the school’s PTA deserves credit for the award.

“It’s such a big honor,” she says. “The PTA in our school is really the secret to our success. They are so supportive.”

To earn certification, the school formed a group comprising Martin, teachers, parents, students and community representatives to conduct a self-assessment of the school’s programs.

Park’s parental involvement policies, programs already in place and the school’s future goals.

“We’re constantly working to keep our neighborhood involved in the school,” Phillips says.

One group that stands out at Merriman Park is the Dads Club, which participates in mentoring and runs the morning carpool, Phillips says.

“They are a constant presence at our school every morning all year,” she says.

Active parents are key to student achievement, Martin says.

“They open up doors we are not always able to open,” she says.

Merriman Park parents take ownership of the school, Martin says. They draft a monthly newsletter, reach out to parents of preschool-age children in the neighborhood and interact with the students.

“We’re getting this recognition, but so much of it is the parents,” she says. “They’re not just supportive of their own kids, they’re supportive of all our kids. They are a fantastic group.”