Parent Teacher Leadership Academy Launches 2019–2020 Academic Year

[envira-gallery id=”9625″] Photos by Charlee Lyu

By Sophia Xiong
CCBP Graduate Assistant

The Parent Teacher Leadership Academy (PTLA), a partnership between The University of Alabama and five school districts including Tuscaloosa City Schools (TCS) and Tuscaloosa County School System (TCSS), conducted its first session of the 2019–2020 academic year on Sept. 26 at the Bryant Conference Center.

This is the 12th year of the program, whose purpose is to provide professional and leadership development for parents and teachers through the application of research-based practices that support student achievement by establishing strong family/school partnerships.

The day session consisted of teacher teams from the participating schools. Lynn Evers facilitated the elementary teacher session, and Dr. Liza Wilson of the College of Education facilitated the middle school teacher session. A highlight of the day occurred when last year’s participants shared their projects with this year’s attendees. Teachers from Hillcrest Middle School and Tuscaloosa Magnet Elementary School, respectively, presented their projects “HMS Bootcamp” and “Magnet Math Motivation” from the 2018–2019 PTLA year.

Dr. David Scott, director of professional learning for TCSS, shared with participants about the new platform for each school’s continuous improvement plan. Andrew Maxey, director of special programs for TCS, spoke with the middle school teachers on “Building Accomplished Middle Level Practice.” 

The evening session for parents began as Dr. James E. McLean, executive director of the Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP), welcomed attendees and gave opening remarks. Andrea Ziegler, CCBP director for Community Education, introduced staff and speakers.

To help parents better understand their roles on their PTLA team, Marvin L. Lucas, a member of the Tuscaloosa City Schools Board of Education, conducted a session titled “Parents as Leaders: Building Leaders within Your Schools.” Lucas emphasized the importance of parents participating in their children’s education.

“Where is your heart?” he asked. “Your heart is your child. Now you need to do what you do for your child for other children as well. That’s the reason you came here tonight.”

Karen M. Davis, principal of Hillcrest Middle School, and Preeti Nichani, principal of Tuscaloosa Magnet Elementary School, shared their experiences with PTLA programs. Their session was called “Where Does PLA Fit into the School Puzzle?” In the session, Davis shared her personal experience of how she became a teacher. “I hated math growing up,” she said, “but somehow I began to love math because of the teacher. And because of that, I became a teacher myself. As a principal, I have discovered that the key to any learning is the relationship. I believe that no great learning comes without great relationships.”

Nichani expressed enthusiasm about a project titled “Math In Motion,” in which UA engineering students worked with third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students in Nichani’s school. She said she even had a few boys come to her and say, “‘I like math. I think I’m going to be an engineer one day.’ So just planting the seed in their mind that they like math is huge.”

She also said when parents, educators and administrators come together, everyone benefits, especially the children.

The teams from Hillcrest Middle and Tuscaloosa Magnet Elementary shared their projects again with the parent participants.

Dr. Blake Berryhill, assistant professor of human development and family studies, introduced attendees to the Parent Teacher Leadership Academy assessment process. 

There will be five more sessions this academic year, on Oct. 24, Dec. 5, Jan. 16, Feb. 13 (parents only) and March 12, with graduation on April 14, 2020.