The University of Alabama

UA Launches Teacher Leadership Academy

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. —The University of Alabama’s Division of Community Affairs is launching the Teacher Leadership Academy to enhance partnerships between teachers and parents in area schools.

The new program will augment the division’s Parent Leadership Academy, which was founded in 2007.

Some 27 teachers from Skyland, Englewood, Matthews, Myrtlewood, Tuscaloosa Magnet, Holt, Flatwoods, Southview and Martin Luther King elementary schools will participate in the pilot program. Dr. Polly Moore, retired assistant superintendent for Tuscaloosa County Schools, will be the facilitator for the program

The new program came about after conversations among local principals and teachers, past PLA participants and UA officials. The officials included Dr. Joyce Stallworth, associate provost and professor of education; Dr. Samory Pruitt, vice president for community affairs; and Dr. Heather Pleasants, director of community education in UA’s Center for Community-Based Partnerships.

“We asked ourselves what we could do to help parents become more engaged,” Stallworth said. “Becoming involved is not the responsibility of parents only; schools also must create opportunities for involvement.”

The program aims to train teachers to be school leaders and equip them with the skills necessary to improve public education. The 27 teachers involved will work to improve their skills to increase parent and family involvement; improve communication between teachers and parents; increase support for schools through community networks, partnerships, and grants; and increase opportunities for students to succeed.

The Teacher Leadership Academy and the Parent Leadership Academy are based on models developed by the National Network of Partnership Schools, founded at Johns Hopkins University in 1996. As a member of the network, the academy will use the national group’s framework, a research-based approach for organizing and sustaining programs of family and community involvement. The national network has accumulated three decades of research on parental engagement, family engagement and community partnerships, Stallworth said.

Moore, the program facilitator, has previously worked with the PLA and brings more than 30 years of experience as a teacher and educational leader to her new role.

“I’m excited to be able to come back as a retired educator to get this off the ground,” Moore said. “The parents are such a valuable resource, and we need teachers to know how to involve those parents. This is just a natural follow to the PLA to get teachers and parents talking to improve the students’ overall success. Teachers who really know how to get parents involved are much more successful.”

Now in its sixth year, the PLA began with the Tuscaloosa city and county school systems. In the PLA, parents attend class to gain knowledge about how to become involved in their schools. Parent leaders then recruit other parents who want to learn more, along the way learning that their increased knowledge about their schools can be critical to school success by creating strong parent teams within schools. PLA is now expanding to other school districts.

UA faculty and administrators are working with new partners, including Bessemer City Schools and Lamar County Schools.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.