Help Your Child Achieve Academic Success Stressed in Final Fall Semester PLA Session


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By Yiben Liu
CCBP Graduate Assistant

On Dec. 6 at the Bryant Conference Center, the Parent Leadership Academy (PLA) held its third session of fall 2018 under the theme “Helping Your Child Achieve Academic Success.”

The participants were divided into four groups: parents of elementary school students, parents of pre-kindergarten school students, parents of middle school students and parents of Hispanic students. Each group participated in two to three workshop sessions designed specifically for the unique needs of students at each level. Parents were encouraged to choose from multiple speakers based on their specific needs as a parent and as a parent leader.

First-grade teacher Emily Glasgow from Buhl Elementary, speaking to the elementary school group, gave an interactive presentation titled “Achieving Success Through Purposeful Conversations.” She stressed the unique role of parents in the success of students. Considering all aspects of a child’s education, Glasgow said discussing school activities at home has the most powerful influence on students’ academic performance.

Woodland Forrest Elementary teacher Rachel Hill provided a presentation titled “Helping Your Child Achieve Academic Success: Math Matters” on efficient methods of teaching math to elementary students. Tuscaloosa County Schools’ Kay Haas conducted a presentation titled “Growing Successful Readers” aimed at developing reading skills among young students. “The most important thing that you can do to grow a reader in your house is to talk to your child,” Haas said.

The middle school groups also carried out two learning sessions. Andrew Maxey, director of special programs of Tuscaloosa City Schools, led a discussion titled “The Adolescent Brain and Student Achievement” in which he explained how to support adolescents’ psychological needs. Fayette County’s Sherry Corbett (reading and English language specialist) and Tuscaloosa County Middle School teachers Traci Primm and Samantha Heath gave presentations about coaching the students in reading, social studies and math, respectively.

Leah Lowery, parent participant and mother of a 7th-grade student, called attending PLA “a great learning experience.” “[Middle school students] are more complex,” said Lowery. “[PLA] gives us a different way to look at our children.”

Pre-K parents attended two sessions — “Growing Successful Readers,” presented by Dr. Cheryl Fondren, director of United Way of West Alabama’s Success by 6 program, and “Preparing a School-Ready Child: Using the ABCs,” presented by Rock Quarry Elementary School Pre-K teachers Alicia Berry Jenne’ and Angela McClinton. They gave specific instructions on how to teach young children to learn words and prepare them for school.

Amy Lamoreaux, mother of a 4-year-old, said: “We want to give our kids a jumpstart at education. To be able to do it at age four is amazing.” She said her son is giving her positive feedback every day.

Two instructors gave presentations to the Hispanic parent group. Coordinator of Secondary and Exceptional Education of Alabaster City Schools Dr. Keri Johnson discussed special education, and English as a Second Language (ESL) Coordinator of Tuscaloosa City Schools Kristi Garcia gave a report on ESL in public schools. Both speakers focused on how to address the special needs of students who speak English as their second language.