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

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.