Category: CCBP

PTLA Hosts Superintendents, Teachers and Parents for Collaborative Panel Session


By Taylor Armer
CCBP Student Assistant

For the first time in the Parent Teacher Leadership Academy’s (PTLA) history, superintendents and central office personnel from participating school systems served as panelists at the program’s fourth session of the 2016–2017 academic year.

The joint session, on Thursday, January 19, in Sellers Auditorium of the Bryant Conference Center, explored the topic: “School and Board of Education Relations: Effective Communication and Collaboration in Family, School and Community Partnerships.”

Superintendents Dr. Wayne Vickers, Alabaster City School System; Dr. Michael Daria, Tuscaloosa City School System; Dr. Walter Davie, Tuscaloosa County School System; and Federal Programs Director Scott Walker, Lamar County School System shared with PTLA members how they have fostered and facilitated communication and collaboration practices as leaders in their perspective districts.

Dr. Holly Morgan, director of Community Education at the Center for Community-Based Partnerships, said she was delighted to have school system representatives at this panel discussion, which consisted of questions drafted by the PTLA, as well as by parents and teachers in attendance.

“In addition to this being the first time that superintendents have participated as PTLA session panelists, this session also marks the first time that parents and teachers have collaborated on a singular project that is directly tied to a school improvement goal,” said Morgan. “Through this collaboration, we anticipate great things for the future.”

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Vickers, with more than 26 years of experience as a teacher and administrator in public school districts throughout Alabama, said that in addition to creating a “safe and productive learning environment” in all schools, “human interaction with parents” has helped school leaders and officials, himself included, connect with students and families outside of the classroom.

“The responsibility of a superintendent is to share with principals and assistant principals that we want to find out that extra layer,” Vickers said. “We want to hear it, whether it is uncomfortable, and whether it’s positive or negative.”

Walker, who is also interim principal of Lamar County High and Intermediate School, agreed with Vickers and added that effective internal and external communication equals “a shared vision of academic success for every student” with parent engagement central to achieving this goal.

Under Daria’s leadership, the Tuscaloosa City School System has worked to sustain communication among all levels of school leadership — principals, teachers, superintendents, school board — and parents by implementing a strategy that has provided “constant feedback” from a sampling of parents in the district.

“We have a team that interviews teachers, students and parents,” he said. “It’s just a snapshot [of that school]. We get that, but when you triangulate all of that information, you get a really good sense of where that school is academically, with school culture, and with its relationship with students, parents and stakeholders.”

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Daria, who served as executive director of personnel and assistant superintendent prior to his current role, emphasized that “intentional, purposeful communication” with parents, and the school’s faculty and staff should be a continuous effort for superintendents.

“We must ask ourselves how do we make sure this [communication] happens on an ongoing basis,” he said, “not just when it’s critical to get information out, but also when it’s critical to get information in.”

Direct contact with school board leaders has been one of the traditional ways parents and teachers have provided feedback to their respective districts. Although the process differed slightly by school district, panelists recommended following the established chain of command in communicating a question or concern to school leaders.

Before ending the panel portion of the night’s session, school district leaders offered strategies to PTLA members on how to best incorporate effective communication into their proposed action plans.

Davie, a UA alumnus with 27 years of education experience as both a teacher and administrator in Tuscaloosa, advised members to consider ways to “enhance established actions plans” by thinking of the key to two or three things needed to advance their respective schools.

“I would challenge you to think about [several things],” he said: “What is the focus and vision for your school? What has been identified in your school’s action plan by teachers, parent leaders and school board members as key things needed to move your school forward? And how can we further support what’s happening with those plans?”


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.

Student’s Prize-Winning Photos Capture UA Spirit

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By Taylor Armer
CCBP Graduate Assistant

A Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP) senior student assistant, Jianlong Yang, won first and second place in the “Crimson Captured” category at the 2016 Education Abroad Photo Contest.

While entering the competition was his opportunity to show his work, Yang, a management major from Zhengzhou, China, said that he also wanted to “share his view of the University of Alabama campus.”

These captured moments earned Yang, a self-taught photographer, a $150 credit toward tuition and fees for Spring 2017, frames for his winning photos, and recognition at the competition display on the 2nd floor of the Ferguson Center.

His first place winner, “Roll Tide,” captured a Million Dollar Band member playing the trombone during UA’s Homecoming Parade on Oct. 1. Yang’s attention was drawn to the University’s battle cry emblazoned on the banner attached to the instrument.

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“The banner, and the band’s uniform, are symbols of campus pride,” Yang said. “It’s special and provides meaning for all of us.”

The second place winner, “We Were Here,” captured a group of graduating seniors seemingly propping up Denny Chimes, reminiscent of tourist photos of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy.

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“It took many attempts to get this one right,” Yang said, “but it was a moment that makes you want to capture it.”

At CCBP, Yang works under Dr. Edward Mullins, director of research and communication, and other directors.

“Jianlong is an exceptionally talented photographer with both the eye of an artist and the technical precision of a scientist,” Mullins said. “In my many years as a professional journalist and a teacher of journalism, I’ve not seen many with both of these traits to the degree that Jianlong has them.”

Although an undergraduate management major, Yang hopes to attend graduate school at the University to continue his study of photography.

His love of photography developed after his father gave him his old camera, exposing him to another way of life. From that moment, Yang transitioned from a “nerd playing computer games” to a visual artist intent on “exploring new things.”

“I started going outside more to find beautiful places to shoot,” he said. “It was my chance to see the world, [to make life] meaningful.”

Among the many places he has explored are the Rocky Mountains, the Alabama coast, and, of course, many aspects of the UA campus.

Other first place winners were Danielle Whitehurst, landscape, Mackenzie Senogles, local color, and Olivia Boswell, UA spirit.

Community Affairs Competes in UA's 5K Event

  • December 6th, 2012
  • in CCBP

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For the third year in a row, UA's Office of Health Promotion and Wellness sponsored a 5K (3.1 mile) event to encourage the University community to stay, or get, in shape. This year's competition was Sunday, November 11.

Thirty Community Affairs staff and students participated and all finished the route, with several students completing the distance in under 25 minutes, while others reached the finish line in the 30s, 40s or 50s minutes.

"Community Affairs, by virtue of its percentage of staff entering the competition, has won the previous two 5Ks and in all likelihood," said Dr. Ed Mullins, at 76 one of the oldest to enter the competition, "we won again this year. For getting us to the starting line and encouraging all of us to enter, we thank our team captain, Yun Fu. She nags us sweetly to get us all to participate."

Since September 11, twice-weekly group training sessions were held around campus for the program designed specifically for UA faculty and staff. The program provides tools and resources to help motivate participants to move more, feel better, and improve energy and quality of life.

The purpose of the program is to build confidence in a person's ability, regardless of age, to keep moving, manage or prevent, chronic health conditions, provide a sense of accomplishment, increase energy, control weight, add muscle, help and support others.

Several members of the Community Affairs team said it was one of the most enjoyable University functions they have participated in.

Christi Cowan, a graduate assistant from Birmingham, said, "The event was very well organized, and it was great to have people encouraging us along the way. Kudos to the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness for giving us the chance to do something healthy and uplifting."

"If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great," said graduate assistant Eric Wang from Fushun, China, who said he and his buddies "practice our running under the moonlight while we work and study under the sun."