PTLA 2024 Graduation Recognizes Parent-Educator Initiatives

Parent Teacher Leadership Academy participants gathered at the Tuscaloosa Rivermarket for 2023-2024 graduation celebration.

by Dr. Elisabetta Zengaro
Communications Specialist, Division of Community Affairs

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Family members, teachers and school administrators gathered in celebration of the 2024 Parent Teacher Leadership Academy (PTLA) graduation in a ceremony held at the Tuscaloosa River Market on April 11.

This year’s graduating class featured participants from 39 schools across six districts. Throughout the school-year-long program, selected parents and teachers collaborated on partnership projects to support student learning outcomes. Posters summarizing their efforts were on display before the ceremony began.

“When you look around this room, you see families of all ages, educators and administrators, and what is making a difference is that we are coming together to support our schools and support our students,” said Andrea Ziegler, director for Community Education. “That is what is exciting about what we do in PTLA.”

During the ceremony, teams from Creek View Elementary, Greensboro High School, Tuscaloosa Magnet Schools – Elementary, Big Sandy Elementary and Davis-Emerson Middle School discussed more about their projects and the benefits of PTLA.

Karlee Ivey and Sherry Drake, teachers at Tuscaloosa Magnet Schools – Elementary School, discussed their project “Book Besties,” a mentoring program centered on reading, pairing first-grade students with fifth-grade students.

“These children are building relationships with kids in other classes, and we’ve even moved into the Middle School,” said Drake. “So, it’s been an amazing experience that everybody’s been looking forward to, and we took it from there with our parents. They had these great ideas of how to incorporate even more SEL (social emotional learning) education to the parents so that they understand why we’re doing this.”

Other projects aimed to increase parental involvement in the classroom, such as Parent Visitation Day at Big Sandy Elementary School, which welcomed parents into the classroom for them to be part of their child’s learning process.

“We should welcome [parents] with open arms because that’s how you make a great relationship with them and, also when something comes up, to have that relationship with them and be positive and say, ‘Hey, I know they can do this,’” said Jacob Rawson, a teacher at Big Sandy Elementary. “What a great atmosphere we create by doing that, and so we love what we did, and we can’t wait to keep doing it.”

Seven schools also received PTLA grants: Cottondale Elementary School, Creek View Elementary School, Greensboro High School, Martin Luther King, Jr., Elementary School, Mathews Elementary School, Skyland Elementary School and Tuscaloosa Magnet Schools – Elementary.

”These grants and projects are just the beginning,” Ziegler said in closing. “Everything that you’re working on and that you’re doing together is going to make a difference.”