Category: Parent Teacher Leadership Academy

Parent Leadership Academy Sessions Cover Safety and Health in Schools

By Joon Yea Lee
CCBP Graduate Assistant

 

The fifth PLA session of the school year focused on how to keep children from pre-kindergarten to middle school safe and healthy. Local community partners and selected University of Alabama’s faculty specialists shared their knowledge on diverse topics from healthy eating, cyber bullying to dealing with children with behavior issues. The sessions took place on Thursday, February 1 at UA’s Bryant Conference Center.

Dr. Holly Morgan, director of community education in the Center for Community-Based Partnerships, welcomed participating parents following dinner.

Each PLA sessions, divided by grades into four groups. Pre-Kindergarten Parent Leadership Academy (PKPLA), Elementary Parent Leadership Academy (EPLA), Hispanic Parent Leadership Academy (HPLA) and Middle School Parent Leadership Academy (MPLA) heard two presentations each addressing nutrition and safety of children in and out of schools. Here is a summary of the presentations:

  • PKPLA members heard from Caliste Chong, Early Care and Education Learning Collaborative (ECELC) project coordinator at the Alabama Partnership for Children (APC), on nurturing healthy eating. Dr. Kimberly Blitch, assistant professor of Human Development and Family Studies in the College of Human Environmental Sciences at UA, spoke during the second session on how to raise empathic children to prevent bullying in early childhood.
  • EPLA members learned about various perspectives on students with behavior issues from Dr. Sara McDaniel, UA associate professor in the Department of Special Education and Multiple Abilities and director of the Alabama Positive Behavior Support Office (APBSO). The second session was on drug culture in schools by Derek Osborn, executive director of Parents Resource Institute for Drug Education (PRIDE).
  • HPLA members were introduced to healthier activities and nutritional dining options that parents can consider from Julia Sosa, prenatal outreach coordinator for Whatley Health Services, Inc. Chris Jenks, director of technology for Tuscaloosa City Schools, shared insight on how parents can help their children to be an responsible digital citizen as well as how to protect children on the Internet.
  • MPLA sessions were focused on bullying offline and online. Greg Hurst, director of Student Services at Tuscaloosa County School System, explained how to recognized bullied children and what parents and school can do to resolve issues. Sergeant Jeff Judd from the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Department represented School Resource Officers (SRO) and explained what SROs do and what parents can do to keep children safe in school as well as in cyber space as more children have access to smartphones and social media.

Addressing behavior and bullying in school, McDaniel introduced how all schools are required to have multi-tiered support systems as part of a national regulation. McDaniel said most schools are good in terms of having a “Response to Intervention (RtI)” multi-tiered support system in place, which is more reactive then focusing on preventive system like “Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)” multi-tiered support system.

And while in many schools where RtI teams also meet to discuss PBIS plans in this type of multi-tiered support systems, Dr. McDaniel said, “In tier one PBIS team especially, there should be parent representatives working with the PBIS team. And all this information about the systems and framework should be available to the parents as well.”

Some features of a PBIS school-wide discipline plan include the following:

  1. Common & consistent approach
  2. Set of expected positive behaviors across environments
  3. Procedures for teaching expectations
  4. Continuum of procedures to encourage expected behaviors & discourage inappropriate behaviors
  5. On-going monitoring of the plans’ effectiveness

Among PBIS plans, McDaniel stressed the importance of keeping consistency in what is expected, required and encouraged in school and at home. In order to do so, parents should take proactive role in understanding classroom and school expectations and making sure their children also understand these expectations by practicing and making routines to follow both in school as well as at home.

McDaniel also emphasized that parents should be aware of administrative procedures when a child shows behavioral problems. But most importantly, parents should advocate for their child by being on the same page as the school and being firm and loving at home.

Reflecting today’s extensive use of smartphones and social media, both sessions for MPLA focused on bullying with the second session focusing on SROs and cyber bullying. Judd, representing SROs, explained that their duties not only include keeping the school grounds safe, but also include gathering information to detect potential spill-over of threats, drug activity and bullying by maintaining a vigilant watch and building relationships with the teaching staff and students.

Judd introduced the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff mobile app available for all mobile devices that can be used to access crime reports as well as submit an anonymous tip. Citing the National Center for Education Statistics that reported 28% of 12-18-year-old students having been bullied at school during the previous six months Judd said, “We are in the age of social media, so I came up with ‘See Something, Say Something’ campaign.” As part of the campaign, the sheriff’s department posted promotional banners at school events and sports games. Judd shared several examples where the sheriff’s office received anonymous tips that led the department to solve bullying, drug and domestic violence cases.

All participating MPLA members expressed concern regarding their children using smartphones and social media as they said they have checked their children’s phones at least once in the past month.

Molly Booth, Hillcrest Middle School parent, said having a child who owns a cell phone, the TCS free mobile app seems to be very useful. “I was not aware of the app but I will definitely download it.” Booth also added that “clarification on the code of conduct and the processes that are used for discipline in schools were helpful.”

For Carolyn Roshell-Erby, a parent from Eastwood Middle School, Judd reinforced what she had already known. “I realized there are more things that we need to bring in, not only to make parents become more aware, but to allow them the opportunity to find out that this is not just a group of children that may be a part of the problem,” said Roshell-Erby. “(I realized that) we expect our school to educate our children, but we as parents must also be a part of that educational process. That was very informative along with the fact that when it comes to discipline and the law… what alternatives the school systems are offering the children so that they still remain a part of the society and they can become productive.”

Following information sessions, PLA members met with their school groups to work on their PTLA project action plans in preparation for a poster presentation session that will be on Thursday, March 8.

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.

Speakers Stress the Importance of Leadership of Elementary and Middle School Parents at Parent Leadership Academy Sessions

By Yiben Liu
CCBP Graduate Assistant

UA’s Parent Leadership Academy (PLA) hosted two separate training sessions for elementary and middle school student parents at Bryant Conference Center on Thursday, October 19. Guest speakers focused on leadership development within parents and students for both elementary and middle school parents.

The guest speakers were Dr. Terri C. Boman, director of The University of Alabama/University of West Alabama In-Service Education Center, who spoke at combined Elementary, Hispanic, and Pre-K PLA. Her title was “Dare to Lead Your Family Differently.” Marvin Lucas, District 6 representative of the Tuscaloosa City Schools Board of Education, spoke about “Parents as Leaders: Building Leaders Within Your Schools” at both the Elementary PLA and the Middle School PLA. Andrew Maxey, director of special programs for Tuscaloosa City Schools, led a session titled “Becoming Leaders: Understanding the Adolescent Brain” for the middle school group.

Boman shared her experience and studies of building leaders in the school community, stressing that the little things parents do for their children every day are what make the difference.

Lucas stressed that to develop leadership in children, parents must first cultivate themselves into leaders. “Leaders are built by other leaders,” Lucas said. He also shared the national standards of the Parent Teacher Association for family-school partnerships, which he described as a new way of leading.

Maxey used scientific data and humor to illustrate why middle school is such a critical time developmentally but is usually underestimated by parents.

Dr. Holly Morgan, PTLA program director and UA director of Community Education for the Center for Community-Based Partnerships, also introduced and explained different types of PTLA partnership projects at both sessions.

Parent participant Jennifer McDaniel from Davis-Emerson Middle School said her experience in PLA so far “has been really good.” Her concerns were helping her children with homework and building better communication with the teachers related to homework. “It [PLA] gives us the outreach we need with the teachers,” McDaniel said.

Tchalla Jones-Jerido is a parent participant from Rock Quarry Middle School and mother of three children ranging in age from elementary school to high school. This is the second time she has participated in UA’s PLA program. The first time, she was in the elementary group. She said the middle school session helps her to develop different perspectives of parenting children at various levels. “Middle school [child] is a different animal,” she said, and she’s glad to see the new session “targeted specifically at middle school” because their needs “are totally different.”

Tucker Moss Brown, a Verner Elementary School mother, said the main goal of parents is to “raise your kid into a good, decent human being,” and parents need strong leadership to do that. “You are a leader in your family,” Brown said, and she thinks that is the specific significance of PLA and programs like it, which are developing leadership within both children and parents.

Parent Teacher Leadership Academy Groups Launch Fall Semester Activities

By Yiben Liu
CCBP Graduate Assistant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.”

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.

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.

Health Topics Covered in Parent Leadership Academy Session

Photos by Fuyan Zhang



By Taylor Armer
CCBP Student Assistant

Local educators and community partners discussed ways to ensure the overall health and safety of children in and out of the classroom at the Parent Leadership Academy’s fifth session of the school year, Thursday, February 9 at the The University of Alabama’s Bryant Conference Center.

In each of three separate sessions — Pre-Kindergarten Parent Leadership Academy (PKPLA), Elementary Parent Leadership Academy (EPLA) and Hispanic Parent Leadership Academy (HPLA) — members heard two presentations from their agenda’s specific lecturers. They were the following:

  • PKPLA met with Caliste Chong, the West Alabama Early Care and Education Learning Collaborative (ECELC) project coordinator at the Alabama Partnership for Children, and Dr. Brian Gannon, assistant professor of pediatrics at UA’s College of Community Health Sciences.
  • EPLA met with counselors Miranda Little and Mary Thompson from Rock Quarry Elementary and Rock Quarry Middle schools, respectively, and Brandon Chalmers, the adult/family education program director at Tuscaloosa’s One Place.
  • HPLA met with Derek Osborn, executive director of Parents Resource Institute for Drug Education (PRIDE), as well as Dr. Elizabeth Hancock, coordinator of Instructional Technology with Tuscaloosa City Schools (TCS), and Chris Jenks, director.

“Each speaker was chosen for the resources and expertise that they can provide for the parent leaders of each academy,” said Dr. Holly Morgan, director of community education at the Center for Community-Based Partnerships, an initiative of the UA Division of Community Affairs.

Nutrition and health was central to the PKPLA’s agenda. Caliste Chong’s presentation, “Early Childhood Nutrition: Alabama Partnership for Children,” provided tips for parents on how to create, maintain and sustain a healthy lifestyle for their preschoolers starting with an overhaul of the snack pantry.

Instead of Little Debbie cakes or honeybuns, Chong recommended that parents have “fruits like bananas or grapes, vegetables and other types of healthy snacks readily available.”

Chong, who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in human development and family studies from the University, suggested that parents engage in “family style dining,” where members of the household eat and interact at the table.

“There are a lot of teachable moments if you eat together,” she said. “Let the kids help set the table and let them help clean the table, and even serve themselves at times. They learn about portions, serving sizes and even measurements. They also use their hands to work on fine motor skills.”

Dr. Brian Gannon followed Chong’s presentation on nutrition with one titled “Healthy Starts for Preschool: Communicating with School Nurses and your Pediatrician” in which he outlined instances when pre-school children should be excluded from school because of an illness and when it’s safe for them to return, as well as other health-related issues.

If a child experiences a high, consistent fever or repetitive vomiting, then he or she may have an infection and should be kept home, said Gannon, adding that any child with infections such as strep throat, chicken pox and bloody diarrhea should stay home.

After reviewing the history of health and safety in U.S. schools, counselors Miranda Little and Mary Thompson of the Rock Quarry campus described how TCS responds to current issues such as suicide and bullying in a presentation titled “Health and Safety: More than Just Apples and Running in the Hallway.”

Little, a former social studies teacher at both Tuscaloosa and Rock Quarry Middle schools, detailed the TCS protocol for a student who has been self-identified as a suicidal risk. Counselors and trained personnel at the school isolate the student, place him or her in the immediate presence of an adult, investigate the claim thoroughly and contact the child’s parent or guardian.

“Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youths age 10 and up,” she said. “Even if the child blurts it out casually, or even when we don’t think they mean it, we must take the situation seriously.”

Little said that after the child is dismissed (not suspended) from school, a health practitioner must evaluate the child before he or she is allowed to re-enter the building. The child must also meet with a counselor and present a letter that details a plan of action for the child.

“Then, we fill out a safety plan with that student,” she said. “We identify steps that we can take with them in school to make them feel safe and we make sure they have someone to whom they can talk. “

TCS counselors and trained personnel have also undergone extensive investigative procedures for bullying, one of the nation’s most pervasive social issues. Although Thompson, who received her master’s degree in counselor education from the University of Mississippi, said bullying or harassment indicates an “imbalance of power,” she admitted that it has been hard to identify in some cases.

Thompson said counselors, social workers and teachers who have training for what to do in those situations talk about how to recognize bullying and harassment. “One thing people don’t really understand is that bullying or harassment to this extent is a repetitive, ongoing change of power, which involves so many different layers,” she said.

The EPLA session ended with a presentation by Brandon Chalmers, Adult/Family Education Program director at Tuscaloosa’s One Place, titled “Parental Involvement: Supporting Success for the ‘Whole Child.’” At Tuscaloosa’s One Place, Chalmers supervises a team that coordinates programs to connect families with vital resources, become economically stable and self-sufficient and equip parents with the skills and knowledge needed as caregivers and providers for their children.

His presentation focused on health, fatherhood initiatives and parental involvement as significant contributors necessary to the success of the “whole” child.

PRIDE executive director Osborn discussed reducing and preventing substance abuse, emphasizing the importance of setting up a “belief for students” to be empowered and knowledgeable about substance abuse, which is essential to prevention. If parents suspect a problem, he said, it is important to reach out for support.

Ending the HPLA session, Jenks and Hancock explained the relationship between digital skill and citizenship. Their presentation was titled “Digital Citizenship and Learning: A Parent’s Guide to Helping Kids Navigate Instructional Technology.”

Jenks emphasized the four Cs that prepare students for college and career: communication, collaboration, creating new things (or taking something old and making it new), and critically thinking about decisions they will make.

“Each of those skills can be enhanced and supported by technology,” Jenks said. Acquiring these skills requires the opportunity to learn at school and to practice at home, he added.

Those opportunities include the initiative that has provided sixth grade students in any Tuscaloosa City school the chance to become informed, purposeful digital citizens using Google Chromebook devices at school and at home.

Both Jenks and Hancock agreed that parental oversight on students’ personal technological devices would ensure that students “make those good choices necessary in becoming good digital citizens.”

“In the same way that you would want to know your child’s phone password,” Jenks said, “you would want to protect them on the Internet by setting boundaries.”

After each academy’s session ended, parent leaders reconvened in their respective school groups to work further on their PTLA project action plans that will be presented at the next meeting Thursday, March 9.


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.

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.

Parent Teacher Leadership Academy to Host Speaker Marsha Greenfeld December 1

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The Parent Teacher Leadership Academy (PTLA) at The University of Alabama will host Marsha Greenfeld, senior program facilitator at Johns Hopkins University, as a guest speaker at its all-day teacher workshop, to be held Thursday, Dec. 1, at the Bryant Conference Center on the UA campus.

“We are happy to have Marsha Greenfeld, of the National Network of Partnership Schools, with us to share her knowledge and experience regarding school, family and community partnerships,” said Dr. Holly Morgan, director of community education in the Center for Community-Based Partnerships.

Greenfeld, who works with the prestigious university’s National Network of Partnership Schools (NNPS), will lead the second session of the Teacher Leadership Academy (TLA), titled “Communicating Academic Goals Necessary for Student Success.” Her knowledge of goal-oriented partnership programs stems from time spent as a teacher and district-level facilitator for partnerships in the Baltimore City Public School System. Additionally, she worked in the technical assistance branch of the Office of Federal Grants Programs in Washington, D.C. Public Schools and as a partnership coordinator in the national office of Communities in Schools.

Established at Johns Hopkins University, NNPS provides professional development for schools, districts, states and organizations, utilizing research-based approaches to implement and sustain programs of family and community involvement to increase student success in school.

The PTLA is expanding the NNPS model during the 2016–2107 school year to foster leadership and develop partnerships with members of the Parent Leadership Academy (PLA), Teacher Leadership Academy (TLA), Hispanic Parent Leadership Academy (HPLA) and Pre-Kindergarten Parent Leadership Academy (PKPLA) in their respective classrooms, schools and communities.

“We believe that [Greenfeld] will help us to ‘connect the dots’ between the framework set forth by the National Network of Partnership Schools and the goals of the Parent Teacher Leadership Academy,” said Morgan.

The NNPS framework is comprised of six types of involvement: parenting, communicating, volunteering, learning at home, decision making and collaborating. Informed by these central concepts of involvement, parents and teachers of participating schools will join together to build a one-year action plan to improve school, family and community partnerships.

“All academy members will work collaboratively in their respective school teams in order to design a PTLA partnership project,” said Morgan. “The partnership project should be guided by at least one of the school’s improvement goals.

“We are thrilled to have 43 teachers from Tuscaloosa City, Tuscaloosa County, Lamar County and Alabaster City Schools as participants in the Teacher Leadership Academy for the 2016–2017 school year. Additionally, the Parent Leadership Academy hosts 75 parent participants from these same school districts,” said Morgan, who went on to note that both parents and teachers are selected for participation by their school’s principal.

“We look forward to welcoming all who are participating in the December 1 workshop, and to a productive day of learning and planning for the future,” said Morgan.


The Parent Teacher Leadership Academy (PTLA) is a leadership program that 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. It 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’s College of Education and College of Human Environmental Sciences.