Inaugural Class for UA’s Parent Leadership Academy to Kickoff Sept. 13

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. "“ The inaugural class for The University of Alabama's new Parent Leadership Academy has been selected, said Dr. Samory Pruitt, UA vice-president for community affairs.

Known as PLA, the academy is a year-long certificate program that aids in developing the leadership potential of parents in the West Alabama area. It will kickoff its program Thursday, Sept 13 at 5:30 p.m., with a reception and opening session at the Child Development Research Center on the UA campus.

2007-08 class members are: Amanda Bearden, Cottondale Elementary; Scottie L. Burden, Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary; Jesse Dixon Jr., Woodland Forrest Elementary; Bryan K. Fair, Rock Quarry Elementary; Donnie Grill, Woodland Forrest; Felicia Gross, Arcadia Elementary; Ingrid Holemon, Arcadia; Robin Holmes, Taylorville Primary; Spike Howard Jr., Faucett-Vestavia Elementary; Roderick Johnson, Matthews Elementary; Elizabeth Lucious, Martin Luther King; Stacie Lunsford, Taylorville; Shanon Lyles, Crestmont Elementary; Dwight Monroe, Rock Quarry; Faye Perry, Oakdale Elementary; Tena Phifer, Crestmont; Juandalyn Smith-Swoope, Oakdale; Brandi Sturdivant, Cottondale; Robin Thornburg, Faucett-Vestavia; and Marie Washington, Matthews.

"These are parents who are active in the schools and represent the best of the best," said Pruitt. "Our hope is that they will continue to remain active in schools, will become more aware of the challenges facing other parents and schools, and will inspire and actively recruit other parents to become more involved."

PLA is a joint initiative of Tuscaloosa city and county public schools, the UA Center for Community-Based Partnerships, and faculty in UA's Colleges of Education and Human Environmental Sciences.

Similar programs, Pruitt said, have begun across the country. The Tuscaloosa program is believed to be the first in Alabama.

"PLA has strong support from local schools and the state board of education," said Pruitt, "as well as from community organizations."

"A child’s first teacher is in the home," said Joe Morton, Alabama superintendent of education. "The Parent Leadership Academy is designed to actively engage parents and educators to become active partners. By working together, family, school and community partnerships will be created and strengthened."

"We see this as a wonderful opportunity to collaborate, educate, and expand the capacity of our school children's parents with support from the University of Alabama, their school system, and community members. Through respect, commitment, creativity, and safety, we see our families totally engaged in the lives of their children, networking with other parents, building a firm foundation for the success of our future…our children," said Dr. Joyce Levey, superintendent of the Tuscaloosa City Schools.

"This Academy will prove to be an excellent resource to build parent leadership as we strive to improve the academic success for all students," said Frank Costanzo, superintendent for the Tuscaloosa County Schools.

For more information, contact Dr. Estelle Ryan Clavelli at 205/348-7367 or

For interviews, contact: Dr. Samory Pruitt, 205-348-8375,; Dr. Estelle Ryan Clavelli, 205-348-7367,