Orange County Public Schools recently recognized the University of Central Florida as an “Outstanding Partner in Education” on behalf of Evans High School. College of Health and Public Affairs Dean Michael Frumkin and Center for Community Partnerships Director Nancy Ellis accepted the award during a ceremony at SeaWorld on April 29.

“Students and staff at UCF stepped up to the plate to support our Trojans, their families and our teachers, exceeding all expectations,” wrote Jennifer Eubanks, principal and Partners in Education coordinator at Evans High School, in her nomination letter. “UCF is a dynamic partner involved in multiple initiatives, from supporting our teachers and students in our reading classes to providing mental health services to our families for free.”

Each school principal in Orange County can nominate the school’s top partners, and among the hundreds of nominees and 25 award winners, “UCF clearly stood out,” added Sara Au, senior specialist with OCPS’ Partners in Education.

UCF is a leading partner in the Evans High School • A Community School, along with OCPS, Children’s Home Society of Florida and True Health. “We came together to address the barriers and challenges to academic success that Evans students experience. Their needs change, and we adjust to meet them,” said Heather McClellan, assistant director at COPHA’s Center for Community Partnerships.

For example, the center recruits students from across the university to volunteer as mentors for incoming freshmen, an important program in the community school. The mentors go to Evans twice a month and meet one-on-one with the 9th graders, where they discuss issues ranging from everyday life to what happens after graduation.

With all the resources UCF has to offer, Frumkin hopes eventually to connect every college across the university to Evans and be a presence in students’ lives. The Center for Community Partnerships, staffed by Ellis, McClellan, a graduate student and a federal work study student, will play a pivotal role in those connections.

“Our mission reminds us that we can only lead students to success with the support and involvement of families and the community. This school year alone, our volunteers and Partners in Education have provided a countless number of resources to our schools,” said OCPS Superintendent Barbara Jenkins, a three-time UCF graduate. “We are extremely pleased to have them as part of our OCPS team.”