Category: News

PTLA 2018 Session Features Panel on Communication and Collaboration, Plus Discussion on Project Planning

By Yiben Liu
CCBP Graduate Assistant

The Parent Leadership Academy (PLA) and the Teacher Leadership Academy (TLA) of the Parent Teacher Leadership Academy (PTLA) had a joint session at the Bryant Conference Center on Thursday, January 18. It was their first collaborative session of the year 2018 and the second for the overall PTLA program.

Dr. James E. McLean, executive director of the Center for Community-Based Partnerships, gave the opening remarks and welcomed the participants back for the new year. Dr. Holly Morgan, CCBP community education director and PTLA program director, reported on previous PTLA sessions and acknowledged the great contribution made by PTLA partners and facilitators. “In our last session, parents and teachers began their study of effective communication and collaboration strategies and parents began to explore ways to also assist their children academically,” she said.

The joint session began with a panel discussion titled “Schools and Board of Education Relations: Effective Communication and Collaboration in Family, School and Community Partnerships.” School and district leaders shared their knowledge and expertise of building relationships among parents, teachers and school communities. They also answered questions from the audience about specific strategies, opportunities and challenges they had encountered.

Panelists included: Dr. Brenda Rickett, executive director for teaching and learning at Alabaster City Schools; Vic Herren, deputy superintendent of Fayette County Schools; Tramene Maye, principal of Livingston Junior High School in Sumter County Schools; Dr. Michael Daria, superintendent of Tuscaloosa City Schools; and Dr. Walter W. Davie, superintendent of the Tuscaloosa County School System.

The second part of the joint meeting was the PTLA partnership project planning session. Dr. Morgan gave the participants instructions on how to build project proposals and stressed several key factors such as goal description, timeline, and sustainability.

With seats designated based on school systems, parents and teachers from the same schools then began an enthusiastic discussion on project proposals. They will present their proposals during Session VI of the Academy.

Kimberly Shelton is a new teacher who just started her second year of teaching in The Alberta School of Performing Arts. Shelton said she had “learned a lot from the program” and there is “definitely a lot” that she can apply to her work. “I’ve learned not only about communicating with our parents but reaching out to them, and also having them understand that they can reach out to us as well. [The partnership] can really make a lot of things happen,” she said.

Jamia Williams is a parent participant from Thompson Middle School. She said that parents of middle school students usually don’t participate much, but the PTLA middle school sessions help them “to get involved and stay involved.” Williams also said that middle school students face special challenges as they are at the stage of figuring out who they are. The PTLA program really helps the teachers and parents to work together to guide the students through this critical stage of life “to where they need to be.”

Williams and her parent and teacher partners from Thompson Middle School are developing a project titled “Teen Wellness Night,” designed to help students recognize, handle, and recover from cyberbullying.

CCBP Continues Successful Grant Program for University Faculty, Staff, Students and Community Members

  • October 20th, 2017
  • in News

The Center for Community-Based Partnerships continued its successful grant program as university faculty, staff, students and community members. Principles covering government, corporate and foundation grants were emphasized in the first two seminars. A third seminar will be held on December 7. The fourth and final seminar will take place March 8, 2018, followed by coaching sessions, with the final session and celebratory dinner on June 7, 2018.

Global Café Discusses Campus Medical Services with International Students and Others

Global Café met in the Center for Community-Based Partnerships training room on October 12 to discuss campus medical services with international students and others. Dr. Beverly Hawk, director of Global and Community Engagement, founded Global Café in 2013. Global Café programs offer students opportunities to meet with students from different countries, strengthen their skills and explore international customs.

The final program for fall semester will be November 9. The topic will be Faculty and Student Roles in the American Classrooms.

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.”

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.

Research Team Uses Council Funding to Begin Hobson City History Exploration

By Yiben Liu
CCPB Graduate Assistant

Hobson City is using a methodology known as photovoice to explore the town’s historical preservation while allowing its youth to become engaged in the town’s history and future. Hobson City is a predominantly African-American town of about 800 residents on the outskirts of Anniston in Calhoun County.

According to principal investigator Dr. Michelle Robinson, photovoice is a qualitative participatory action research methodology that combines photography with grassroots social action to facilitate community change and identify and raise awareness of community strengths. The vehicle for this methodology is photography, giving credence to the adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

Robinson, who was an assistant professor of English at The University of Alabama at the time, received a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant to support the project through spring 2019. She got the idea for the research from Hobson City mayor Alberta McCrory in 2015 when the two met at an event in Florida honoring author Zora Neale Hurston.

Mayor McCrory identified multiple areas for research, of which the team selected three: reconstructing community history, achieving National Registry certification for Hobson City structures and sites and stimulating youth engagement. On two occasions fires destroyed town records, making reconstructing the town’s history difficult.

Beginning in March 2016, Robinson and her team recruited five teen girls involved in local community activities. Three UA graduate students trained the teens and taught them some basic photographic skills such as lighting and angle. Participants used iPads to capture their own experiences within the community and what they learned about the town. They were asked to focus on questions such as “What image comes to mind when you think of Hobson City?”, “What in Hobson City would you like to know more about?”, and “What would you like to see changed in Hobson City?”

“We’re hoping these young ladies come to see themselves as activists or advocates for change in their own communities,” said Robinson.

In fall 2016, an exhibit titled “#blackgirls4change: The Hobson City 9, Cultivating Community and Creating Change” was displayed at the Paul R. Jones Gallery of Art in downtown Tuscaloosa from August 24–September 30. The 29 photographs were taken by the teens, three graduate students and Robinson. A statement articulating the idea of each picture was also on display, and a reception was held at the gallery on September 2.

Following the exhibit, the Robinson team was writing two research papers for peer-reviewed journals, and a second photo session, using 35-millimeter cameras and involving a more diverse group of students, was being planned.

“I like the fact that we are engaged in something that is meaningful beyond the ivory tower of academy. That is actually functioning in a community,” said Dr. Robinson. “That means everything to me.”

Robinson nominated Mayor McCrory for the Outstanding Community Partner-Initiated Engagement Effort award for 2016, and the funds from the award, given by the Council on Community-Based Partnerships at its annual Excellence in Community Engagement Awards luncheon that year, were used to stage the first photo exhibit.

“We would not have been able to get to that culminating experience without the support from CCBP (the Council),” said Robinson.

Robinson also expressed appreciation for the David G. Bauer Grant Acquisition and Sustainability Program in which she and Mayor McCrory participated. She credited her success in gaining the NEA funding to what she learned in this program. “It was pivotal to this process,” she said. The program was sponsored by the UA Division of Community Affairs through its Center for Community-Based Partnerships.


The Council on Community-Based Partnerships 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.”

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 Partnerships (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 each 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 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.”

Parents and Teachers Collaborate on School Improvement Projects in Parent Teacher Leadership Academy

 

 

 

 

 

Photos by Fuyan Zhang


By Kirsten J. Barnes
CCBP Graduate Assistant

 

The Elementary Parent Leadership Academy, Hispanic Parent Leadership Academy and the Pre-K Parent Leadership Academy, projects of the Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP), held sessions on March 9 that focused on connecting schools to communities. The program as whole is known as Parent Teacher Leadership Academy (PTLA).

Approximately 90 parents and teachers gathered at the Bryant Conference Center where they received information about acquiring financial support for school projects through grants and educational advocacy.

PTLA stresses cooperation to improve the quality of education for children by getting parents involved with teachers and administrators at the school, which is “exactly the premise upon which the program was founded,” said Dr. Holly Morgan, CCBP director of community education.

Although the curricula for parents and teachers are different, this year the projects have become a collaborative effort, which both groups displayed during the session. “In the past the parents were the only group who created a project, which benefited the school,” Morgan said. “This year, we had a new structure and the projects had to be tied to a school improvement goal. Every school ­— per the state of Alabama — has to have a school improvement plan.”

The teacher and parents selected a goal for their project and began plans to turn their ideas into reality. During the session, the parents and teachers explained their projects, some of which had already been implemented.

Carol Fuller, who teaches second grade at Walker Elementary School in Northport, said she valued participation in PTLA so that she could help her students through interaction with their parents. “I wanted to work on building relationships with parents to help students overall,” said Fuller, who is in her 21st year of teaching.

Walker’s PTLA team developed a program that reintroduces the Accelerated Reader Program to get students excited about reading and aims to help the school meet its reading improvement goals. “We’ve already seen a five percent increase in reading scores,” Fuller said. “The librarian keeps reading cards with goals for each student.”

At Buhl Elementary School first grade teacher Emily Glasgow has teamed with parent Kim Pate to help parents keep up with what is going on at school. Pate, disguised as Betsy Bulldog, creates Facebook videos that answer parents’ questions.

Although the rural school has approximately 200 students, the Betsy Bulldog Facebook page is averaging more than 400 views for each video. “This is definitely a new way to connect with our parents and our community,” said Glasgow, who has taught for 13 years. Both groups will graduate from the program on April 20.

 For more background and information about PTLA, go to https://ptla.ua.edu/.


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.