ABOVE PHOTO: Families Being Involved coordinator Angela Case presents volunteer Lillian Jones with award
National School Choice Week began in 2011 as a grassroots movement to celebrate and raise awareness about parental school choice for K-12 schools. The event, held annually during the last week in January, has become a major undertaking with more than 21,000 schools taking part in 2019.
West Oak Lane Charter School in Northwest Philadelphia is an embodiment of public-school choice. The grades K-8 public charter school enrolls more than 1,000 students from throughout the city, with some traveling up to two hours each way, taking two modes of transportation.
The school is also known for its strong family involvement. During the school year, a number of its families give back to the public school they choose for their children. The school’s parent organization is known as FBI, an abbreviation for “Families Being Involved.” The abbreviation is proper as many families enroll their children after careful investigation of which public school would best serve their students’ needs.
West Oak Lane Charter School recently honored 30 volunteers who celebrate school choice by giving back. One of the honorees was Lillian Jones, a grandmother who has volunteered more than 5,000 hours over nine years and has joined with other parents and guardians to raise more than $300,000 selling soft pretzels and other items. She received the special honor for her many years of service and dedication, working every Tuesday and Friday.
Ms. Jones has also contributed by working in the school’s literacy center helping students with reading and at parent teacher conferences, back-to-school nights, parent orientations, and kindergarten open houses, joining other volunteers to help parents navigate the K-8 public charter school’s state-of-the-art 64,000 square foot facility.
“Public school choice goes well beyond identifying the best school for children,” West Oak Lane Charter School CEO Dr. Debbera Peoples-Lee said. “Choosing a charter school includes forging a new aspect of life, which involves parental and guardian participation. We are grateful to Ms. Jones and our many volunteers who support the school they have chosen for their children by giving of their time, talent, and treasure.”