Fort Wayne Community Schools is the inaugural recipient of the Indiana Department of Education’s Title III Distinguished Indiana School District Award. FWCS was the only district in the state receiving the recognition.
In a press release, the department announced FWCS received the award as a result of their “commitment to English Learner success through strategic programming, rigorous instruction, inclusive school culture, and beneficial partnerships with families and the community.”
The release also included praise from Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Jennifer McCormick.
“Under the leadership of Superintendent Dr. Wendy Robinson and Director Emily Schwartz-Keirns, Fort Wayne Community Schools represents the vision of working together for student success by ensuring English Learners, and all children, have opportunities to succeed,” said McCormick.
According to the press release, “Fort Wayne Community Schools was selected after a review of English Learner performance data from all public-school districts and charter schools, followed by a two-part interview process including an on-site visit.”
FWCS English Language Learners Manager, Emily Schwartz Keirns says Superintendent McCormick personally delivered the good news.
“I was delighted to get the call, I was really proud. I couldn’t say I was completely surprised because I know we are doing a lot of good work and we were able to show off a lot of good things we are doing throughout the process… There are so many people that are a part of the effort and they help make it possible,” said Schwartz-Keirns.
As a result of the award FWCS is invited to share their good practices with other school districts and Schwartz-Keirns says they are happy to share more on their instructional coaches and their family engagement services.
FWCS currently has around 2,700 students in the ELL program, meaning they are limited English proficient. Beyond that, the school systems has over 5,000 students that have another language in their background or speak another language at home, even though they themselves have already reached English proficiency.
Those students and families represent about 70 different languages. Spanish is the most common language spoken, it makes up 60 percent of the ELL student population.