Expanded Elementary School Leadership Academy Announces Graduation Ceremony

  • April 14th, 2014
  • in News

By Kirsten J. Barnes
CCBP Graduate Assistant

The Parent Teacher Leadership Academy will host its graduation ceremony 6-8:30 p.m. Thursday, April 17 at the Hotel Capstone Ballroom, located at 320 Bryant Drive in Tuscaloosa.

Having launched the award-winning Parent Leadership Academy in 2007, The University of Alabama Division of Community Affairs built upon that success by creating a new program similar in nature but which incorporates another component of the school community – teachers. The PTLA expansion also includes the addition of parents from Alabaster, Lamar County, and Bessemer City School districts.

Dr. B. Joyce Stallworth, associate provost and professor of education at UA, is executive director of PTLA. She said the Teacher Leadership Academy (TLA), an offspring of the Parent Leadership Academy, came about after conversations with local school administrators, principals, teachers, past PLA participants. The inaugural class of the TLA included 24 teachers representing nine Tuscaloosa City and County elementary schools. Dr. Polly Moore, a retired school administrator who worked in both the Tuscaloosa City and County Schools, serves as the facilitator for the TLA.

“Our teacher academy was hugely successful,” said Stallworth. “The participating teachers worked diligently to design research-based family engagement practices specifically for their schools, and we are excited to celebrate their successes at the graduation ceremony. We started talking about what we could do to help parents be more engaged.” She added that becoming involved is not just the responsibility of parents, but schools also must create opportunities for involvement.

“It’s been an honor to work with each one of these teachers,” Moore said. “This ceremony is a really important way to acknowledge and celebrate all that teachers and parents continue to do to build strong family-school partnerships in their communities.”

Searching for existing parent-school partnership strategies, the group concluded that the most effective model is the National Network of Partnership Schools (NNPS), founded at Johns Hopkins University in 1996.

As a member of the network, the PTLA will use the NNPS framework, a research-based approach for organizing and sustaining excellent programs of family and community involvement with the goal of increasing student success. NNPS has accumulated three decades of research on parental engagement, family engagement and community partnerships, and that will be the model the TLA will follow, Stallworth said.

Implementation of the program locally means more teachers joining more parents to be trained to be school leaders and equipped with the skills necessary to improve public education.

UA’s program will help teachers involved improve skills to increase parent and family involvement; improve communication between teachers and parents; increase support for schools through community networks, partnerships, and grants; and ultimately increase opportunities for students to succeed.

Dr. Heather Pleasants, director of the original program when it was known as the Parent Leadership Academy and current facilitator of the PLA, said, “It’s especially exciting to see how the PTLA model has encouraged dialogue and action not only within each school, but across the five districts we currently serve. The PTLA lays the groundwork for a community of practice that parents and teachers can draw on as they implement activities designed to support students.”

The PTLA is a joint initiative of the Tuscaloosa City and County School Systems, UA’s Center for Community-Based Partnerships and UA faculty in the Colleges of Education and Human Environmental Sciences. The organization 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.
Parent Leadership Academy graduates are as follows:

• Tuscaloosa City Schools — Alaca Averette, Anthony Bolden, Nancy Boyd, Amy Duncan, Bridgette Eatman, Matthew Eatman, Corletta Hamlett, Angela Hunter, Erika Jones, Holly McCullum, Blair Plott, LaToya Shannon, Jennifer Underwood and Dianna William-Shaw.

• Tuscaloosa County Schools — Evonda Collins, Krista Collins, Cassie Davis, Donna Davis, Tesney Davis, Angela Dickey, Mandy Dockery, Kim Easterwood, Rachel Fairchild, Kristi Garcia, Tamara Gibson, Jamee Houston, Jill Hunt, Shana Milligan, Janice Smith, Larry Williams Jr. and Jeff Wyatt.

• Alabaster County Schools — Stephanie Caldarello and Karen South.

• Bessemer City Schools — Demeria Evans and Tenika Reaser.

• Lamar County Schools — Jason Burks and Kurt Hankins.

Teacher Leadership Academy graduates are as follows: Jennifer Ayers, Laura Bechtel, Mike Bissell, Amber Boozer, Janice Calvert, Joy Collins, Lauren Craddock, Natresa Crawford, Cindy Fisk, Ginger Goodwin, Celeste Hankins, Irene Harrell, Beth Hester, Lisa Hill, Kim Lark, Tracie Latham, Janie Missouri, Madeleine Pearce, Laurie Presley, Beth Ramey, Shalonda Reed, Jean Rykaczewski, Katie Todd and Mary Williams.

PLA graduate speakers will be Flatwoods Elementary School parents Cassie Davis and Jeff Wyatt. TLA graduate speakers will be Laura Bechtel, a Tuscaloosa Magnet Elementary School parent, and Madeleine Pearce, a Myrtlewood Elementary School parent.

For more information contact the Office of Community Affairs at community.affairs@ua.ed or 205-348-8376.