Parent Teacher Leadership Academy Groups Launch Fall Semester Activities

By Yiben Liu
CCBP Graduate Assistant

The Parent Leadership Academy and the Teacher Leadership Academy met jointly to open the fall semester of the Parent Teacher Leadership Academy (PTLA) at the Bryant Conference Center on Thursday, September 21. Marsha Greenfeld, senior program facilitator of National Network of Partnership Schools at Johns Hopkins University, was the guest speaker.

PTLA is a leadership program that provides selected parents and teachers with opportunities to develop their knowledge and abilities as leaders within their school communities. Each parent is selected for participation by their school’s principal.

Dr. James E. McLean, executive director for the Center for Community-Based Partnerships gave the welcome speech, thanking attendees for their commitment to those who benefit from the program. “I know you came here because you want the best for your children and your students,” he said.

During the 2017–2018 school year, teachers and parents in the program will attend sessions to acquire skills that will support student achievement through family/school partnerships. Topics will include Goal-Oriented School, Family and Community Partnerships, Teachers/Parents as Leaders, Collaboration and Communication, School and Board of Education Relations, and Supporting Safe, Healthy and Connected Schools/Communities.

Dr. Holly Morgan, CCBP community education and PTLA program director, said that it was a night of “many firsts.” Now in its 10th year, PTLA is launching the Middle School Academy, bringing parents and teachers from 17 middle schools into the program.

Additionally, two more school districts, Fayette County Schools and Sumter County Schools, have joined the program, bringing the total number to six. The other members are Tuscaloosa City Schools, Tuscaloosa County Schools. Alabaster City Schools and Lamar County Schools. The number of participants has also increased dramatically, from 90 last year to 227 this year.

Greenfeld conducted a motivating session titled: “You Matter and What You Do Matters: Partnerships Help Make the Difference!” This is possible, she said, through building strong and enduring partnerships among schools, families and communities to ensure students’ success. Audiences also participated in a puzzle game promoting the idea of collaboration among schools, families and communities and the roles that the different groups play.

Rock Quarry Elementary School 2nd grade teacher Andrea Ziegler, a native of Tuscaloosa, said: “So many trainings that we have as teachers are based upon academics, and we forget about the relational part of it.” She was “very excited” about getting the right training of how to build the trust and relationships with the parents and the community. She said the workshop “was really helpful tonight. I think I can walk away and start tomorrow [to] build our relationships in the little things that we can do,” Ziegler said.

Shan Jiang, a PhD student from China, who is also a mother of two elementary students, said that huge challenges exist for foreign parents trying to raise their children in the United States. By attending PTLA, she hopes to let her children know that their mother is working hard on their behalf. She also believes that PTLA provides her with a good opportunity to promote diversity in the community and make the voice of minority parents heard by the schools.