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PTLA Schedules First Session for Fall 2017; Looks to Year Ahead

By Sophia Xiong
CCBP Volunteer

Two components of the Parent Teacher Leadership Academy (PTLA) will have their first meeting of the fall semester Thursday, September 21. Marsha Greenfeld, senior program facilitator at Johns Hopkins University, will be 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 chosen for participation by their school’s principal.

The first session of the year will be held in Sellers Auditorium at the Bryant Conference Center on campus. Both the Parent Leadership Academy (PLA) and the Teacher Leadership Academy (TLA) will participate in this collaborative session.

During the 2017–2018 school year, which marks PLA’s 10th anniversary, teachers and parents in the program will have sessions to help them 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.

Last year, PTLA provided leadership training for members of the PLA, the TLA, the Hispanic Parent Leadership Academy (HPLA) and Pre-Kindergarten Parent Leadership Academy (PKPLA). This year, in addition to the 32 elementary schools that will participate, the Academy is expanding to include parent and teacher participants from 17 middle schools.

“We are thrilled to launch our new Middle School Academy based upon the requests of our district partners and advisory committee,” said Dr. Holly Morgan, director of community education in the Center for Community-Based Partnerships, an initiative of The University of Alabama’s Division of Community Affairs. “The sessions are based upon the foundational structure of our PTLA curriculum, but each topic will be adapted to the needs of the middle school academy participant.”

In addition to the launch of the Middle School Academy, two additional school districts — Fayette County Schools and Sumter County Schools — will join the program this year, bringing the total number of district partners to six. The other members are Alabaster City Schools, Lamar County Schools, Tuscaloosa City Schools and Tuscaloosa County Schools.

After fulfilling participation requirements, participants are formally recognized by the UA Division of Community Affairs, as well as the respective school superintendents, at the PTLA graduation ceremony. This year’s ceremony is planned for April 10, 2018, and will include a special celebration marking the 10-year anniversary of PLA.

Last year, 90 parents and teachers graduated from the PTLA program. This year, the number of participants has increased to 227. “The overall growth of the Academy is a testament to the support of each of our parents, teachers, administrators, superintendents and community partners,” said Morgan. “Our Academy is truly a collaborative effort, and we are blessed to have all 227 members this year.”

Global Café Announces Fall 2017 Schedule






By Luna Yang
CCBP Graduate Assistant

Global Café will launch new initiatives for the fall semester in the student organization’s continued efforts to engage the diverse campus community at The University of Alabama. The first meeting will be held 5–7 p.m. on Sept. 19 at Capital Hall. The event is open to all students and refreshments will be served.

“Global Café is connecting the world right here in Tuscaloosa,” says Dr. Beverly Hawk, the director of Global and Community Engagement at the Center for Community-Based Partnerships. Through Global Café people with international interests meet visitors from around the world. The program helps students with international interests strengthen their language skills and explore customs. Additionally, during the semester, Global Café’s programming will offer students new paths to campus leadership.

Global Café is an organization that attempts to help international students navigate their new lives in Alabama. It aims to create a safe space for students from diverse backgrounds to talk and gain information related to culturally sensitive issues.

According to the organization’s website (, Global Café invites “participation from individuals who share our goal of an active community. We welcome people from across our community and around the world.”

This fall, students can choose to participate in the language program, designed for U.S. students to practice a foreign language before visiting another country and for international students to improve their English skills.

Lunchtime seminars will be offered to provide useful information regarding campus safety, medical care and campus culture.

Life can be hard for international students and their families when they come to the United States for the first time. Thus, the first Global Café meeting will focus on providing information about family resources on campus and in Tuscaloosa. Leaders from campus organizations and community agencies will be available to answer questions and discuss individual needs.

Global Café is sponsored by UA’s Center for Community-Based Partnerships, located inside Capital Hall, 413 Bryce Lawn Drive. Free parking is available and there is also a bus stop nearby. For more information, please visit, email, or call (205) 348-7392.

Each event is created in partnership with the Capstone International CenterGraduate Parent SupportTuscaloosa’s One Place, the CCBP Student Leadership TeamShelton State Community CollegeStillman College, Tuscaloosa City Schools, the Tuscaloosa County School System and Tuscaloosa Public Library.

For more information and map:

Interfaith Event Helps Students Understand Different Views

By Yiben Liu
CCBP Graduate Assistant

UA Crossroads hosted Explore Better Together on August 29 in the Ferguson Center Great Hall. About 50 students, faculty, staff and community members attended the interfaith event.

The main goal of this third session in the series, according to Crossroads Director Lane McLelland, was to share religious and secular beliefs. “We have held it each year during UA’s Week of Welcome to emphasize that interfaith cooperation is a value supported and upheld at UA,” she said.

One activity was “speed faithing” in which different believers and non-believers listen to belief summaries, giving all attendees an opportunity to discuss and learn. This activity draws on work of the national organization Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC).

Attendees met with Ben and Kylee Hansen, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Campus Ministry, representing Mormon traditions; Bianca Levy and Paulina Bullard, Bama Hillel Student Center, representing Judaism; Rev. John Fleischauer, Wesley Foundation, United Methodist Church, representing Protestantism; Sarah Saeed, Tuscaloosa Muslim community member, representing Islam; Parnab Das, South Asian Society, representing Hinduism; Father Rick Chenault, St. Francis Church, representing Catholicism; and Stephen Cooper and Alex Hoffmann, representing the Crimson Secular Student Alliance.

Ben Hansen, sophomore accounting major from Provo, Utah, said misconceptions about his religion happen occasionally, and people coming together from different backgrounds can build greater understanding and respect for each other.

Paulina Bullard, a sophomore dance major from Olive Branch, Mississippi, said Judaism is often not well understood and that the event was a “great way to communicate because it is safe.” Noting the atmosphere of the event was respectful and professional, she said, “Only positivity can come out of this.”

Junior marketing major Corey Harris from Montgomery learned of the event only two hours beforehand and immediately decided to come. He found Hinduism the most interesting because representative Parnab Das explained how Hinduism overlaps with and differs from Buddhism.

“I think a lot more students should come,” said Harris, “because it gives you new ways of thinking of your own religion.”

Sophomore biology and religious studies major Jarred Collins from Birmingham said he believes science and religion do not contradict each other. “[Tonight] really opened my eyes,” he said. Although one can learn about religions from books and professors, nothing can be compared to “talking to people who really believe in them,” he said.

STEM Entrepreneurship Academy Helps Prepare High Schoolers for World of Rapid Change

By Yiben Liu
CCBP Graduate Assistant

How do you get youngsters ready for a world in which science and technology seem to be moving at warp speed?

For 35 high school students from West Alabama counties, a starting point was attending this year’s STEM Academy, Sunday through Friday, July 16–21.

“This was our third very successful STEM Academy,” said Dr. Holly Morgan, director of Community Education in the Center for Community-Based Partnerships. Her assessment of the camp’s success is borne out by the record 110 students, guests and families who attended the closing program on Friday evening of the camp.

The students came from 11 high schools — Aliceville, Amelia L. Johnson High, Fayette, Greene County, Hale County, Holt, Oakman, Pickens County, Sumter Central, Central (Tuscaloosa), and Greensboro — in eight counties.

“In an incredibly short period of time, we introduced students to each of the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics),” Dr. Morgan said. “They were taught by exceptional members of the UA faculty and staff. Students also got to explore their career interests, talk about related fields of study, and ask questions about college life.”

To top it off, students worked on an “entrepreneurship challenge” in which they designed a product or service based on the needs of their school or community. Before arriving at camp, students had submitted ideas for the challenge.

Dr. Morgan recruited an impressive teaching and administrative staff from the University and community for this year’s Academy. They were Dr. Marcus Ashford, mechanical engineering; Dr. Ryan Earley, biological sciences; Dr. Kabe Moen, mathematics; Dr. Rebecca Odom-Bartel, computer science; Mary Loyd Lowrey, UA Career Center; Tommie Syx, Alabama Entrepreneurship Institute; Tim Lewis and Slade Prisoc of The Gateway, an innovation and discovery center; Adriane Sheffield, educational psychology; and Whitney Sewell, Community Affairs.

“The feedback we received from students, parents and community partners this year was both positive and supportive,” Morgan said. “Students particularly enjoyed the inclusion of the hands-on activities at The Gateway and our mini career fair.”

The Career Center administered a career inventory and conducted a strengths assessment as part of a simulated career fair involving representatives from several University colleges and departments.

The camp’s goal is to offer a fun but challenging and innovative hands-on approach to help students understand STEM as fields of study. They were also introduced to entrepreneurship concepts essential to the workplace and for business start-ups to connect STEM areas such as computer science and geometric art to the entrepreneurial model.

For the first time, eight of the 11 camp teachers attended sessions on either Tuesday or Wednesday as participants in order to improve and expand their STEM skills. Teachers engaged also in the Google Classroom learning platform to communicate with Dr. Morgan and her staff regarding students’ entrepreneurship projects during the 2017–2018 school year.

Prior to their arrival, students had submitted entrepreneurial ideas that meet current needs in their community and/or school to Google Classroom. Under specific parameters for their project, the campers designed a product or service that addresses the identified need in this year’s Entrepreneurship Challenge with a hypothetical $2,000 budget and a mentor’s guidance to implement it.

Students had plenty of mentors to choose from this year, as CCBP has expanded its partnerships to more campus and community entities such as the UA Career Center and The Gateway, a City of Tuscaloosa innovation and discovery center on University Boulevard in Alberta City.

“The Academy can benefit students in a variety of ways,” Morgan said.  “Students not only increase their problem-solving skills but also have the potential to benefit their communities. All eleven school teams presented their final project designs during the closing program and plan to seek funding in order to implement the projects in their schools and/or communities.”

UA’s CCBP and Barnes YMCA Celebrate Another Successful Swim to the Top Partnership

By Yiben Liu
CCBP Graduate Assistant

About 150 children, parents, teachers and local officials celebrated the success of the four-week Swim to the Top swimming program at a showcase event Thursday, June 29 at the Benjamin Barnes Branch YMCA. The program is led by Dr. Holly Morgan, Community Education director of the Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP), an initiative of the Division of Community Affairs.

Greeted by white and blue balloons symbolizing the sea and beach, these summer campers ages 4-14 were recognized for their achievements. Attendees enjoyed a meal, sponsored by Chick-fil-a Northport, of bread, fried chicken, fruit, rolls and a home-made cake emblazoned with the program’s sea-turtle logo.

In its fourth year, Swim to the Top is a swim training and survival program designed to save lives of at-risk children and youth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were more than 3,500 drownings annually from 2005 to 2014. About one in five were children aged 14 and younger. This year, Swim to the Top program was a collaborative effort among Center for Community Based Partnership (CCBP), Benjamin Barnes Branch of the YMCA, Tuscaloosa Park and Recreation Authority (PARA) and UA’s department of kinesiology.

The swim-safety program received prominent local television coverage during this year’s sessions, as well as a follow-up interview of its leaders by Fox 6 News after a near drowning over the pre-July 4th weekend in Blount County. Fortunately, the child survived, but the incident served to emphasize the importance of partnerships like that of the University and Barnes YMCA.

In addition to swimming lessons, participants were taught leadership development, nutrition education, fitness training and academic enrichment. And each Thursday, they took golf lessons with the assistance of members from Tuscaloosa’s First Tee nonprofit. Lessons in putting, chipping, pitching and full swings were taught in the gymnasium using modified clubs and tennis balls in lieu of golf balls.

On Thursday June 15, students conducted a special science experiment called the egg-drop challenge. Children were challenged to find effective ways to wrap eggs to help them survive an approximately 8-foot drop. The teacher then dropped the eggs to test their ideas. The aim of the experiment was to give the students some basic cognitions of physical rules such as gravity and packaging.

At the final showcase, Benjamin Barnes YMCA Youth Programs Director Laura Payton gave the welcome and thanked parents for their trust in allowing their children to participate.

Tuscaloosa County PARA Program Supervisor Mark Harrison pointed out that the program not only provides life-saving skills but also leadership that will be useful to the youngsters when they occupy responsible positions as adults. He said the PARA junior lifeguard program always welcomes advanced swimmers. “We’ve got the position for you,” he said.

UA kinesiology professor Dr. Matthew Curtner-Smith noted another important aspect of the program: Research shows that more physically active children perform higher academically and their psychological satisfaction is higher than inactive children. He also urged the parents to keep their children active after the program, both in swimming and other sports.

Dr. Morgan thanked all the people in the room for helping to build the “community” that makes who everyone is. “We appreciate and are honored that we have gotten the chance to make memories with you this summer,” she said.

She also announced that the program was granted six scholarships from the Tuscaloosa’s First Tee worth $2,500 in First Tee instruction. The first scholarship was issued to Swim to the Top participant Blake Easterwood, who also gave the invocation before dinner.

During dinner, attendees enjoyed a special step show presentation led by Swim to the Top physical fitness instructor Bernel Jones and members of Omega Psi Phi.

After the dinner, UA swim leader Jenni Jensen and fitness leader Colin Pennington, Tuscaloosa County Schools enrichment leaders Mishon Flanigan and Julia Sanders gave short talks on behalf of the instructors and teachers. They reviewed the lessons learned, recognized students’ achievements and thanked supporters.

“This year has been incredible,” said Jenni Jensen, a PE teacher and a former UA student. “We were extremely well organized. The kids came ready to swim.” According to Jensen, now in her fourth year with the program, many participants have come every year and showed great improvement. She said she and the team of nine other instructors — all UA students majoring in kinesiology or sports pedagogy — were thrilled to see the children “exceed expectations.”

“On the first day they screamed and ran away from the water, and today we are able to see them floating by themselves, swimming with noodles on their own, no need to hold onto anybody, jumping in off the side,” Jensen proudly listed the skills her students had gained. “There is a complete 180 change, and it wouldn’t have happened without this program,” she said.

Lazhaiva Lyles, 9, said she had joined the program every year and will come back next year. “I’ve learned how to dive in a pool, how to float on my back and front,” she said. “It’s fun!” Her friends gathered around her and cheered when she was talking.

Dr. Samory Pruitt, vice president of UA’s Division of Community Affairs gave the closing remarks and thanked participants and leaders. “This program just keeps getting better every year and I look forward to seeing how these great program leaders and teachers will make it even better next year.”

SCOPE Displays and Discusses Original Engagement Scholarship at Awards Luncheon

  • April 27th, 2017
  • in SCOPE

By Taylor Armor
CCBP Graduate Assistant

University of Alabama graduate and undergraduate students shared their community-engaged scholarship efforts at the Scholars for Community Outreach, Partnership and Engagement (SCOPE) Showcase, Friday, April 14 at the Bryant Conference Center.

 The SCOPE presentations were the opening act for the 11th Annual Council on Community-Based Partnerships Excellence in Community Engagement Awards Luncheon. Moderated by Tera Johnson, SCOPE’s vice president, the showcase began with a student panel in which Charles Shipman II, Kathryn Taylor and Douglas Craddock Jr. spoke enthusiastically about their varied experiences with community-engagement scholarship. Panelists fielded questions from distinguished guests such as the Vice President for Community Affairs Dr. Samory Pruitt, Executive Director of the Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP) Dr. James E. McLean and Director of Crossroads Community Center Lane McLelland.

Each panelist agreed that building and sustaining relationships with community members was the most effective pathway to success in engaged scholarship. Craddock, a doctoral candidate in higher education, said that ensuring the sustainability of programs helps to improve trust between researchers and community partners.

Craddock, a Birmingham native, said,

“We ask ourselves ‘what’s next? Where do we go from here? By addressing those questions in the research and outreach, we let [the community] know that we are here for them, not for our own agenda but for their betterment.”

Craddock’s perspective stems from his involvement with sustained projects like CCBP’s Swim to the Top, a four-week enrichment program now in its third year that not only teaches at-risk students how to swim but also incorporates reading and math skills, physical fitness and nutrition information.

“Moving our third student Showcase to the same day as the Community Engagement Awards program proved to be beneficial to both Showcase and awards program participants,” said McLean, SCOPE adviser. “The venue was far more elegant for the Showcase and drew a larger audience to hear the student presentations and see their posters than would otherwise have been the case. This arrangement also enabled larger numbers of SCOPE students to attend the luncheon and more interaction among all groups.” 

Panelists shared specific stories that have shaped their experiences as members of SCOPE and/or as student employees at CCBP. Taylor, who works as a language partner with the center’s Global Café program, told a story about her Global Cafe experience. After sharing her vocabulary and spelling study method with the son of her Chinese language partner, the seven-year-old came boy brought back his perfect score to show to Taylor. Taylor, from Niantic, Connecticut, said such experiences help to make her efforts worthwhile.

Whether students have limited traditional research experience like Taylor or an extensive background like Craddock, SCOPE provides  a welcoming environment for all UA student and other young scholars with an interest in community engagement research. Shipman, a third-year computer science major, has been a member of SCOPE since the fall semester and has witnessed much student growth in their interest in and understanding of research

“At SCOPE meetings, we learn about opportunities, projects and programs that students can get involved with, and I think that it helps ease their minds,” said Shipman, a Montgomery, Ala. native. Often students get overwhelmed with coming up with their own ideas but in settings where ideas are shared, as is the case with SCOPE, this becomes less of a problem, he said.

SCOPE was the birthplace of many research ideas for scholars like Craddock, who gave his first project presentation at a SCOPE symposium. The travel award recipient said that purposefully involving students in community-engaged scholarship, whether as part of a class or part of an organization, could change their perception of this rapidly growing area of research.

“By showing them the work, you show why it’s needed,” he said. “You tell them that they’re not doing this just on behalf of the University, or just for a grade. You show them that they’re doing this for the betterment of other people,” thereby adding a compassion component to their research.

Council on Community-Based Partnerships Holds Final Meeting of Academic Year

Tuscaloosa, Ala. — The Council on Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP) held its final meeting of the academic year Thursday, April 6 in the Bryant Conference Center Birmingham Room on campus.

Dr. Peter Hlebowitsh, education dean and chair of the Council, opened the meeting and welcomed those present. He announced that his College now has a service-grant writer, which is helping raise awareness of the Council across campus.

Dr. Pruitt thanked Dr. Hlebowitsh for committing so much of his time to take over Dean Francko’s position as CCBP chair.

Pruitt went on to share that the Division of Community Affairs recently hosted the spring meeting of its Board of Advisors on campus. The Board is focusing on three core areas. They are student academic retention and success, student entrepreneurship and innovative initiatives, and student global and community leadership. Board members raised funds this year to support students studying abroad, as well as for student entrepreneurship and innovation. Additionally, they have worked with UA Admissions to assist with recruiting efforts, particularly in rural and underrepresented urban areas.

Pruitt also reported that Community Affairs is moving forward with the ACCESS program (see Feb. 16 meeting notes here for information on ACCESS), with plans to display through Google docs the work the CCBP Council is doing at the next Board of Advisors meeting in the fall.

Committee updates followed.

Dr. George Daniels, assistant communication and information sciences dean, announced that this year’s SCOPE Showcase will be combined with the annual CCBP Excellence Awards poster presentation and luncheon event. Additionally, Daniels said the Excellence in Community Engagement Recognition Committee has worked very hard to ensure that the CCBP awards program will be a top-notch event.

Dr. Jen Nickelson, chair of the Academic Conference and Presentation Support Committee, shared that her committee received some excellent travel award applications, four of which were ultimately awarded. She also encouraged applications for the next funding cycle, with that application deadline being Friday, Sept. 15.

Nickelson said the committee also received great poster applications and that there will be 26 posters presented this year at the annual CCBP Excellence Awards luncheon.

Ms. Amanda Waller, Community Partner Support Committee chair, said that Tuscaloosa’s One Place recently distributed a survey to non-profits throughout Alabama to try to figure out how to increase partnerships between universities and nonprofits. She reported that they have received some completed surveys and that she and her team are trying to move forward with a plan utilizing the results.

Updates from the Center for Community-Based Partnerships followed.

Dr. Beverly Hawk spoke to the Council about UA’s Fulbright Scholarship status. Hawk announced that UA has 13 winners for 2017–2018, with the status of three additional applicants pending. She shared that Capstone International will have a Fulbright Day Tuesday, April 11, featuring events for both students and faculty, and that details are available on the Crimson Calendar.

Emphasizing the benefits of a Fulbright Scholarship, Hawk reminded those in attendance that these students have the opportunity to travel overseas, to receive a stipend, and to have their federal student loans frozen during this time. Additionally, she said that most graduate programs will also give them a year’s leave if they wish to participate in Fulbright. She welcomes all applicants who may be interested in obtaining a Fulbright Scholarship in one of the 150 participating countries.

Dr. Jim McLean, CCBP executive director, reported to the Council on the 2016–2017 Grants and Sustainability workshop, from which there were well over $100 million dollars worth of proposals sent out and more than $1 million dollars of proposals already funded.

McLean announced that the workshop has been approved for 2017–2018 and will begin Thursday, Aug. 17 and Friday, Aug. 18 with a class covering government grants and corporate foundation grants. The series of three courses taught during the academic year will focus on evaluating grants within quality circles, doing the team-building required to make grants successful, and fundraising and the sustainability it takes to keep a grant moving forward

This class will be accepting from six to eight teams, plus individuals as space permits. There is a requirement to have one community partner and one university partner as your team leaders, and the final date for applications will be Friday, April 28. David G. Bauer will again lead these workshops. McLean encouraged those who know of interested individuals to contact him.

Reports on engagement scholarship in action followed.

Ms. Lane McLelland, director of the Crossroads Community Engagement Center, spoke to the Council about some of the efforts the Center initiates to create positive interactions among diverse individuals and groups.

During the past several years, she said, as people come to campus from many different paths, at times they simply don’t know how to interact with one another. The Center is utilizing programs that focus on communication, trust-building and relationship-building to help create positive interactions that promote people from different backgrounds coming together. Community service provides an opportunity that supports what they are doing, as does an interfaith soccer team. She stressed that following these types of activities, participants sit down to enjoy a meal together, where they can relax and talk to one another.

Additionally, the Center has created a Sustained Dialogue course that is modeled after the International Sustained Dialogue Institute. Student moderators are trained one day of the week, and then on Thursday of each week, they moderate a dialogue and discuss issues such as gender, LGBTQ, and non-binary discussions. Toward the end of the semester, they move into race issues. Through this course, they are learning together what works for building relationships to deal with hard topics around campus. The Center tries to support any groups who bring awareness of different cultural experiences to campus.

Another initiative of the Center is the Practicing Inclusive Engagement (PIE) workshops. During these workshops, facilitators do not take any presentations or handouts into the room. They just begin with games that work to engage who the participants are. They point out that there are different social identities throughout the room. They talk about intention vs. impact and focus on how to ask questions that promote understanding in dialogue, rather than just arguing with one another. The workshops can be tailored in topic and length to accommodate different groups, and their popularity is growing across campus and beyond. Each year, the Center teaches a class for resident assistants. Additionally, they work with Honors College mentors throughout each semester. They have even taken the workshops on the road to UAB, where they did a workshop for medical professors, and to First United Methodist of Birmingham, where they worked with that church to help members with the work they do in the community.

McLellan shared that Paige Bolden, a member of her staff, is working with the UA Career Center to introduce how important it is to have these dialogues and listening skills as professional skills. Additionally, McLelland is researching how to challenge racist practices on campus, as well as how to help people better understand each other through dialogue.

“Changing norms requires a lot more listening than most of us are comfortable with,” she said. The programs they are utilizing aim to capitalize on newly expanded communications skills — including listening — to help teach people how to come together to engage what we don’t know and what we aren’t comfortable with.

Dr. Jen Nickelson spoke about The Health Lab, a University/community partnership formed to address health issues in Holt, Alabama, and to provide opportunities for students to practice what they learn in the classroom through community-engaged scholarship. Nickelson explained that The Health Lab was begun with seed funds from the Council in 2015–2016, and that Holt was chosen because of its proximity to the University, as well as because there was interest from the community in working with the University.

The lab’s purpose was to create a partnership in Holt, a once-thriving community that was founded on industry and that was no longer thriving because of industries shutting down. People were already leaving to find other jobs when the April 27, 2011 tornado tore through Tuscaloosa County, completely destroying almost 250 homes, more than 100 mobile homes and seven churches, and leaving a path of destruction in its wake. Many of the residents of Holt were displaced following the tornado, and many of those never returned, accelerating the decline of the area.

Following the tornado, FEMA worked with community members on a long-term community plan that focused on housing, infrastructure and jobs. Noticeably absent in the recovery plan was a focus on health.

The first task was to create a needs assessment; then examine the feasibility of expanding this initial project not only in Holt, but elsewhere in Alabama, using it as a model in other low-income communities.

By 2015 the community was ready to start moving away from thinking about the tornado and looking toward the future. The residents loved the idea of The Health Lab and community members worked with students to draft a mission statement. Their first meeting, during which doctoral students worked with community members in team-building activities, took place in August 2015. The students also developed operating norms and bylaws, as well as interviewed community members to try to understand the history of Holt. The community knew they wanted to use a holistic approach to health and wellness to promote the health of the community.

The next steps will be the dissemination of the survey results to the community. Students want to work with youth to identify assets and change in structure/focus as they move toward addressing community-identified needs. The first two items of focus will be litter and diabetes. The longer-term dream is to open a student-run clinic in the community, perhaps in partnership with The University of Alabama Capstone College of Nursing, the University Medical Center, or the Maude Whatley Health Center.

Dean Hlebowitsh presented on behalf of Dr. Kagendo Mutua, the director of CrossingPoints, a program devoted to the education of adults with severe cognitive disabilities. The two-year program brings Tuscaloosa City and County school students ages 18–21, who are still receiving Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) benefits, to CrossingPoints for nine months of the year. Students may have Down syndrome, be on the Autism spectrum, or have no communication abilities.

The program recently secured a $2.4 million grant that will help secure more resources by supporting some new graduate students and faculty members.

Hlebowitsh reported that Mutua is almost single-handedly moving this forward. He also spoke of Betty Shirley, the grandparent of a man who has Down syndrome, who has also been able to help with successes on the advancement front. Thanks to her help, CrossingPoints has $1 million dollars going into an endowed fund to help with program needs, such as the purchase of a handicapped-accessible van.

Looking to the future, CrossingPoints may be able to expand the program even further as they move to make it a tuition-based program that would be open to families across the country.

The three main things CrossingPoints seeks to accomplish are health, dealing with sexuality concerns and being job-ready. The program tries to get students employed with local establishments before they leave the program, which provides them with the dignity of work and a purpose in life.

Announcements followed.

The new faculty tours will take place May 10–12. The hope is to visit the social services and family services available in several of the communities in the Black Belt region of Alabama. The first day will include Greene, Hale, and Tuscaloosa counties. The next day will include Pickens, Sumter, Perry, and Marion Counties. The final day will include Wilcox, Marengo, and Dallas Counties.

The Eleventh Annual CCBP Excellence Awards luncheon will take place Friday, April 14 at the Bryant Conference Center, Sellers Auditorium.

The SCOPE Student Showcase will also take place on Friday, April 14, at 8:30 a.m. in the Bryant Conference Center, Sellers Auditorium. There will be poster presentations and a graduate and undergraduate panel of students speaking on how they have interacted with community engagement programs.

The Gulf South Summit will take place in Birmingham in March 2018.

The meeting was adjourned at 1:00 p.m.

The Council exists to connect faculty, staff, students and community partners in research-based projects designed to solve critical problems identified collaboratively by community members and the University. All academic disciplines, as well as a number of students and community members, are represented on the Council. The Council conducts an awards program, oversees project funding, proposes methods to integrate teaching and research and seeks outside funding, all with the goal of fulfilling the Division of Community Affairs’ motto: “Engaging Communities and Changing Lives.”

The Division of Community Affairs was created in 2004 and is recognized nationally and internationally for its leadership in community engagement. The division provided the leadership for the recent reaffirmation of the University’s Carnegie curricular and community engagement classification. The division publishes the Journal of Community Engaged Scholarship, one of the leading refereed journals in the field.

Ceremony Honors Parent Teacher Leadership Academy Graduates

By Kirsten J. Barnes
CCBP Graduate Assistant

Nearly 200 graduates, family members, school representatives and program associates gathered to honor the 50 parents and 43 teachers who were members of the 2016-2017 Parent Teacher Leadership Academy on Thursday, April 20, 2017, at Hotel Capstone on the campus of The University of Alabama.

“This graduating class is more than an academy of knowers; they are and will continue to be, an academy of doers,” said CCBP Community Education Director Dr. Holly Morgan, director of PTLA in remarks that drew enthusiastic applause. Participants came from the following four school systems: Alabaster City Schools, Lamar County Schools, Tuscaloosa City Schools and Tuscaloosa County Schools.

“When I reflect upon this past year and our mission, a huge smile spreads across my face,” Morgan said. “I thought about each session, each eager face, each e-mail or phone call, each visit to a school during an implemented project, and each view of the Facebook page…. Thank you, parents and teachers, for allowing me and our group of facilitators to be a part of your world and for the collaboration and community formed by your relationships.”

The evening was the culmination of an entire school-year of training sessions designed to help groups create and implement 24 school improvement programs, while at the same time forming relationships that will promote student achievement.

The Academy is a joint initiative of the local school systems, The University of Alabama’s Center for Community-Based Partnerships, and the faculty of UA’s College of Education and College of Human Environmental Sciences.

“All of these sessions gave us the opportunity to hold an open dialogue and connect and share and learn from each other,” said Janice Smith, Elementary Parent Leadership Academy facilitator.

The event combined participants from the Parent Leadership Academy, Teacher Leadership Academy, Pre-K Leadership Academy and Hispanic Parent Leadership Academy. During the year, members representing each school worked together to create and implement a project that supported the individual school’s improvement plans. Posters, representing each project, were on display outside the ballroom.

“We should be proud of what these projects are going to do for these young little lives. These kids are now excited,” said Matthews Elementary parent Daniel Morales. “We are pushing all of these different ideas at these different schools.” His team created “Bow Ties and Bows” and “Hats and Heels,” which will become annual father-daughter and mother-son events at the school.

Adriane Sheffield, a teacher at University Place Elementary and a doctoral candidate in UA’s Educational Psychology program, helped her school create PAW Patrol (Partners Always Welcome), which encourages males to volunteer at the school.

“PTLA is not just about developing teacher leaders and developing parent leaders. I can truly say that after this experience I know how to be a partner leader,” said Sheffield, who has more than 13 years of teaching experience. “We became a team and we are now partner leaders at University Place. Now we know how to listen to each other and work together.” She said her team learned how to “engage our community a little stronger, because it really is about partnering.”

Kim Pate, of the Pre-K Parent Leadership Academy, reported on her team’s successful “Betsy Bulldog” project, which utilized Buhl Elementary’s bulldog mascot and Facebook messages in a successful effort to increase parental involvement in their children’s school work. Maria Resendiz, of Walker Elementary PTLA, described how “Ramtastic Readers” helped improve reading scores through a school-wide accelerated reading project.

Each school received a plaque on which the names of the school’s graduates were engraved, and graduates also received a certificate and a T-shirt recognizing their participation. In all, the schools pursued 24 projects during the year on topics ranging from art galleries to cultural learning, from promoting parental involvement in homework to improving math skills.

“We call this graduation because we pass out certificates, but a better word I think is commencement, because commencement means a beginning ­— a new start,” said Dr. Samory T. Pruitt, vice president of UA’s Division of Community Affairs. “There is an expectation that this is not the end for this effort. We expect and we can pretty much count on this group to go back and do the things in schools and communities that will help families and help children be successful.”

Pruitt said the Academy began with elementary parents in an effort to build strong bonds between parents and teachers early in a student’s educational journey. However, next year the program will expand to include parents and teachers from middle schools, and expand the number of school districts from four to seven.

2016–2017 Graduating Teacher Class

Tuscaloosa County Schools — Lynn Corkren, Laura Siciliano, Krystal Bruce, Jalicia McCaskill, Hillary Stephens, Rebecca Wheat, Carol Fuller, Kathryn Maness, Ann Campbell, Rusty Gray, Emily Glasgow, Brandy Hicks, Danielle Fulghum, Brittney Pearson, Carmen Davis and Johnna Drummond.

Tuscaloosa City Schools — Summer Christman, April Ball, Twana Ivory, LaKeisha Billups, Brittney Pruitt, Jacklyn Constant–King, Debra Matherson, Brittany Harris, Nakami Townsell, Elizabeth Elledge, Ryan Rust, Adriane Sheffield, Tonya Young, Michelle Thompson, Jameka Windham, Shannon Colburn, Lisa Ann Franks and Alyson Lamb.

Alabaster City Schools — Kimberly Davis, Brittney Roberson, Mandy Wesson, Darbe Hooten, Catherine Scheller, Kirstin Hall and Matt Wilson.

Lamar County Schools — Julie Riley and Courtney Shaw.


2016–2017 Graduating Parent Class

Tuscaloosa County Schools — Susan Winters, Rachael Boblitt, Maria Del Rocio Sesena Aquino, Martha Lugo Maldonado, Danny Morales, Janet Lambert, Jill Hobbs, Maria Resendiz, Dylan Franklin, Natasha Wilson, Kim Pate, Mandy Munoz, Crystal Leight, Janelle Strickland, Phyllis Robinson, Tamaria Madison, Kathryn J. Phillips, Connie Betancur and Sandra Martinez-Franco.

Tuscaloosa City Schools — Chas Hardy, Antwon Prince-Sealy, Queen Brown, Mary Samuels, Epifanio Martinez, Tungie Moore, Mark Young, Samara Early, Nikki Evans, Stephannie Nixon, Jaela Avery, Brooklyn Thom, Sabrina Crummie, Francis Smith, Lurena Smith, Bethany Hulburt–Torres, Leslie Dixon and Kimaya Williams.

Alabaster City Schools — Alex Lightsey, Keri Southern, Nicole Hope, Tiffany Stone, Lori Lambert, Jennifer Weltzin, Misty DeRamus, Christy Byars, Amy Thames, Elvia Casillas and Mirella Ruelas.

Lamar County Schools — Aleigha Colvin and Beth Smith.

PTLA is a joint initiative of the Tuscaloosa City and County School Systems, the University of Alabama’s Center for Community-Based Partnerships, and the faculty in the University of Alabama’s College of Education and College of Human Environmental Sciences. It utilizes research–based practices to provide professional development to parent and teacher leaders who use their knowledge to support student achievement through strong family-school partnerships.

The mission of the Center for Community-Based Partnerships is to connect faculty, staff, students and community partners in research-based projects designed to solve critical problems identified collaboratively by community members and the University.

UA Students Win 14 Fulbright Awards for 2017-2018

Photos depicting 2017 Fulbright Winners

TUSCALOOSA — For the 2017–2018 competition period, 14 University of Alabama students have been selected as Fulbright award winners, with the possibility of one more to be named later. This year’s total sets a record number of awardees for UA in the prestigious international exchange program.

The highly competitive Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides grants for individually designed study and research projects or for English-teaching assistantships. More than 11,000 applicants compete for approximately 1,500 awards each year. The program, sponsored by the U.S. State Department, is the largest U.S. international exchange program, offering opportunity for students, scholars and professionals.

Nine 2017 graduates received Fulbright Awards to serve as English teaching assistants overseas for the 2017–2018 academic year. They are:

Ruth Bishop of Shreveport, Louisiana, who holds bachelor’s degrees in biology and Spanish and a master’s in business administration, will teach in Colombia.

Erica Boden of Mason, Ohio, a Commerce and Business Administration graduate with majors in finance and economics and a master’s in finance as a University Scholar, will teach in Bulgaria.

Benjamin “Benjie” Canady of Bell Buckle, Tennessee, a graduate in international studies with a minor in Japanese, will teach in South Korea.

Kelsey Daugherty of Vacaville, California, a graduate in journalism with minors in German and business, will teach in Germany.

Brittany Groves of Decatur, Georgia, a graduate in history and German with a minor in international studies, will teach in Germany.

Jackson Knappen of Overland Park, Kansas, a graduate in biology and Spanish, will teach in Spain.

Julia Quan of Huntsville, Alabama, a New College student and a Blount Undergraduate Fellow with a major in social advocacy, will teach in Macedonia.

Ann Varnedoe of Thomasville, Georgia, a graduate in psychology and African American studies with a minor in Spanish, will teach in Spain.

Sarah Dylan Walker of Fort Mill, South Carolina, a graduate in journalism and political science, will teach in Macau.

Five University of Alabama students and alumni received Fulbright Awards for research and study during the 2017–2018 academic year. They are:

Kathryn “Katie” Cater of Salisbury, North Carolina, will conduct research on bacteriophage therapy for treatment of antibiotic-resistant infections in Poland. She is a University Scholar who will complete her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology in 2017.

Jonathan Joyner from Hellertown, Pennsylvania, will conduct a study in Sri Lanka on its recent civil war. He is a Blount Scholar, a 2017 graduate in international studies with a minor in French, and a commissioned officer in the United States Army.

Alexandra LeViness of Houston, Texas, will conduct research at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Greifswald, Germany. She is a 2017 graduate in physics and mathematics with minors in German and Russian.

Charlotte Sheridan of Vienna, Virginia, will conduct research in environmental studies in Jordan. She is a 2017 graduate with a major in environmental engineering and a minor in Arabic. She was a member of the University Fellows Experience program.

Kevin Ryan Williams of Slocomb, Alabama, will travel to the United Kingdom to pursue a master’s in classical acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art as recipient of the John Wood LAMDA Award in Classical Acting. He is a 2015 graduate with a double major in theatre and film.

“Faculty, international advisers, and fellow students celebrate the achievement of these outstanding scholars,” said Dr. Beverly Hawk, UA Fulbright program adviser and director of global and community engagement in the Center for Community-Based Partnerships. “Through their individual community engagement activities, these graduates will contribute to mutual understanding across the world and bring home memories that will last a lifetime.”

Students interested in applying for next year’s Fulbright competition can learn more from the Capstone International Center, 135 B.B. Comer Hall, and

Council on Community-Based Partnerships at The University of Alabama to host 11th Annual Excellence in Community Engagement Awards

Photos depicting 2017 Award Winners and their projects

By Taylor Armer
CCBP Graduate Student Assistant

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The Council on Community-Based Partnerships at The University of Alabama will host its 11th annual Excellence in Community Engagement Awards program Friday, April 14 at the Bryant Conference Center. The ceremony starts at 11:30 a.m. in Sellers Auditorium. There is no charge to attend, and lunch will be provided.

Early arrivers will have the chance to view the Scholars for Community Outreach, Partnership and Engagement (SCOPE) student symposium, which begins at 8:30 a.m. Research poster presentations will immediately follow the symposium at 10 a.m., and posters will remain on display after the luncheon and awards ceremony.

Each spring semester, the Council on Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP) recognizes outstanding achievements in engagement scholarship. Student, faculty, staff and their community partners are honored for excellence in community-based research.

Dr. Peter Hlebowitsh, chair of the Executive Committee for the Council, said: “The quality and competition for these awards improve each year. I encourage everyone with an interest in the field of engaged scholarship to come out and give these winners the show of support they deserve. I also urge them to come early to view the student symposium and research posters on display.”

Charles E. Shipman II, a third-year computer science major from Montgomery, will receive the Zachary David Dodson Memorial Endowed Scholarship award for his work as a student assistant and language partner in CCBP. Shipman’s character and loyalty to the Center are reflective of the late Zach Dodson, the CCBP work-study student for whom the scholarship is named.

The Distinguished Community-Engaged Scholar awards, which recognize a faculty member, a student and a community partner for public service and engagement efforts that have improved the quality of life in Alabama over an extended period, will go to:

  • Dr. Pamela Payne–Foster, associate professor of Community and Rural Medicine and deputy director of the Institute for Rural Health Research in the College of Community Health Sciences.
  • Joon Yea Lee, third-year doctoral student in the College of Communication and Information Sciences and graduate assistant at CCBP.
  • Dr. Billy Kirkpatrick, executive director of West Alabama AIDS Outreach.


Excellence in Engagement Awards will be presented to faculty, staff, students and community partners who have identified needs in the community, developed means to address those needs, acted to achieve outcomes, and demonstrated measured success in achieving those outcomes. The recipients are:


  • Outstanding Faculty-Initiated Engagement Effort — Dr. Jen Nickelson, associate professor of health science.
  • Outstanding Faculty-Initiated Engagement Effort — Dr. Kagendo Mutua, professor of special education and multiple abilities.
  • Outstanding Faculty-Initiated Engagement Effort — Dr. David L. Albright, associate professor of social work.
  • Outstanding Student-Initiated Engagement Effort — Allyson Mitchell, undergraduate student in communicative disorders.
  • Outstanding Student-Initiated Engagement Effort — Army Lt. Col. John Kilpatrick, social work master’s student.
  • Outstanding Student-Initiated Engagement Effort — Ethan Newsome-Jackson, engineering undergraduate student.
  • Community Partner-Initiated Engagement Effort — Qiaoli Liang of the Chinese Sisterhood program.
  • Community Partner-Initiated Engagement Effort — Dr. Billy Kirkpatrick, executive director of West Alabama AIDS Outreach.
  • Community Partner-Initiated Engagement Effort — John Tyson Jr., retired Mobile county district attorney.


Winners of this year’s $5,000 research seed funds are:

  • Dr. Tania Alameda-Lawson and Dr. Laura Hopson, both from the School of Social Work, for their project Collective Parent Engagement and Service Learning at Davis-Emerson Middle School.
  • Craig Wedderspoon, of the art and art history department, for his project Growing Art.


Travel funds to support community engagement research and scholarship will be awarded to:

  • Brenna Sweetman, geography department, to present her work for the Water Conservation and Effective Watershed Management project in Punta Gorda, Belize.
  • Dr. Kevin Andrew Richards and Victoria Shiver, both in the department of kinesiology, to present their project, The Development of an After-School Program for Youth Placed At-Risk: A Collaborative Approach, in Savannah, Georgia.
  • Douglas Craddock Jr., doctoral student in higher education administration, to present his project, From Greensboro to Greensboro, Contrasting Two Community Partnerships to Propel Men of Color to Success, in Greensboro, North Carolina.
  • Calia Torres, doctoral student in psychology, to present her project, Reducing Disparities with Literacy-Adapted Psychosocial Treatments for Chronic Pain: The Effect of the Lamp Intervention on Patients’ Pain and Psychosocial Functioning, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
  • Dr. Safiya George, associate professor in the Capstone College of Nursing, to present her project, Telemedicine Perceptions of Rural Patients With HIV and Mental Health Issues, in Paris, France.


Three fellowship awards provided through the Graduate School will be made available in the upcoming 2017–2018 funding cycle. Each fellowship carries a $15,000 stipend payable over fall and spring semesters, a full tuition grant for both semesters and a healthcare stipend. The Community Engagement Graduate Fellowship recipients are:

  • Matthew Price, doctoral student in civil, construction and environmental engineering.
  • Kelsey Ann Dyer, master’s student in special education and multiple abilities.
  • Margaret L. Holloway, doctoral student in English.

 The Council exists to connect faculty, staff, students and community partners in research-based projects designed to solve critical problems identified collaboratively by community members and the University. All academic disciplines, as well as a number of students and community members, are represented on the Council. The Council conducts an awards program, oversees project funding, proposes methods to integrate teaching and research and seeks outside funding, all with the goal of fulfilling the Division of Community Affairs’ motto: “Engaging Communities and Changing Lives.”