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.