The Parent Engagement Program congratulates the winners of the 2016 Parent Leadership Awards!
One of the nomination letters from Chestatee Elementary School in Forsyth County stated that Sherry Chadwick exemplifies the phrase “Love is a verb.” As a parent leader, Mrs. Chadwick serves on the school and district level Parent Advisory Councils, the Local School Council, the local Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Board, and as a room mother for her second grader. Through her work on the local PTA board, Mrs. Chadwick has organized countless events for families such as Movie Night and the Fall Festival resulting in record attendance rates and fundraising success for school events. While organizing PTA events, Mrs. Chadwick has also successfully recruited other parents to invest their time and talents in the school.
When she is not busy with the local PTA Board, Mrs. Chadwick can be found volunteering in classrooms where she runs learning centers for teachers or tutors students that need individualized support. Mrs. Chadwick serves as a strong advocate for parents in the school and recently voiced some parent concerns that prompted the school faculty to provide additional training, specific to parent needs, for supporting reading instruction at home. Her positive voice and infectious energy have made a real difference for children and adults alike at Chestatee Elementary School by helping create a warm and family-friendly environment, and her strong leadership skills have served to build a true parent-school partnership in the community.
Tara Donaldson is from Camden County, Georgia which is located in the far southeast corner of the state on the Georgia-Florida line. In addition to being the wife of a submariner in the United States Navy and the dedicated mother of four children, her school sponsors described Mrs. Donaldson as having “contagious energy and passion” and as being a “compassionate and focused leader.” She serves as the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) President of Mamie Lou Gross Elementary, manages the Parent Volunteer Program for the school, works in the cafeteria assisting students, and volunteers in classrooms reading to students and providing tutoring when needed.
These activities alone make her very special, but when the Camden County Schools had to cut the elementary fine arts program due to budget deficits, Mrs. Donaldson found funding for a contracted services music teacher one day per week and organized PTO efforts to support hiring a part-time art teacher for the school. Mrs. Donaldson plays a vital role as a parent supporting all students in her children’s school, but, in addition to all of the above, Mrs. Donaldson has served her community at large as a Girl Scout Leader for both her girls’ troops and the entire district, and she volunteers as a buddy for Justin’s Miracle League which is a local organization that enables children with special needs to play baseball. It is not hard to understand why Mamie Lou Gross Elementary feels that Tara Donaldson embodies the definition of a parent leader and that her efforts have changed their school and community for the better.
Anthony Macon is the father of two children, a boy and girl. When he and his wife, an educator, enrolled their son in pre-kindergarten, Mr. Macon became a regular fixture at Thunderbolt Elementary School in the Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools. Not only has he become a strong male presence for his son and all the other students at Thunderbolt but, as an assistant baseball coach for Savannah State University, he has recruited the entire baseball team as role models to support students at the school.
Mr. Macon and his players can be seen at the school attending “Shoot the Goal,” a school program designed to get students’ male family members to visit the school and play basketball with the students. Mr. Macon attends every month and brings the Tiger baseball team with him. The team plays basketball with the students and then the players visit individual classrooms and students to encourage academic achievement and positive attitudes. Mr. Macon and his players also participated in the Million Father March to promote positive male role models for students by greeting students and offering them encouragement as they arrived at school. Along with the motivating impact on students, the presence of Mr. Macon and his players has begun a partnership between Savannah State and Thunderbolt Elementary.
In addition to these special events, Mr. Macon attends every meeting for parents offered by the school and never fails to lend a hand when needed. For the first Report Card Night, he served as the master griller to cook 300 hotdogs for parents, and for the next Report Card Night, he collaborated with the administration to organize a chili cook off. His enthusiasm is described by the school as “contagious and constant” and the Parent Facilitator at Thunderbolt Elementary says that Mr. Macon has brought “a new dynamic to parental involvement by motivating other parents to get involved like he does.”
Philemon Milaro is described by Meadowcreek High School faculty and community members as someone who exemplifies “determination and integrity.” Meadowcreek High School is an extremely diverse school in Gwinnett County with over 3,000 students and approximately 90 different language translations offered on its website. Mr. Milaro seems to embody the spirit of Meadowcreek as he is from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa and speaks five languages himself: English, French, Russian, Swahili, and his national language of Lingala. It is fitting that someone with such a rich and diverse background becomes a parent leader in such a rich and diverse community.
Mr. Milaro is a dedicated father who in 2014 enrolled in the Meadowcreek High School E3 (Empowered, Engaged, and Equipped) Parent Leadership Academy. As part of the program, participants are required to work on two community projects. Mr. Milaro decided that his committee should take on a community safety project because of insufficient lighting along the street in front of the school where Meadowcreek High School students and parents walk during early morning and late afternoon hours. Under his leadership, the committee developed and executed their plan to secure additional lighting within two months, thereby increasing the safety of children to and from school. The inspiration for the second project came from the fact that out of 25 Parent Leadership Academy participants, Mr. Milaro was the only male. In order to promote male engagement in the school, he co-founded a chapter of All Pro Dad at Meadowcreek High School this year. All Pro Dad’s purpose is to support the intentional focus of fathers to love and lead their families. Mr. Maliro is diligently working to help fathers become positive role models for their children.
Stacey Orr became a Patriot Parent at Sand Hill Elementary School in Carroll County when she enrolled her daughter in first grade there in 2011, but no one had any idea on that first day how much her presence would change their school community. When her youngest child, a son, began kindergarten the next year, Mrs. Orr was elected PTO president and began leading meetings for a program called “Coffee and Conversations” which was designed to welcome parents, increase their comfort level with school related topics, and recruit their support for the school. Over the next several years, her dedication as a parent advocate expanded to serving as an active member on the School Leadership Team, the School Advisory Council, and various district level committees.
Mrs. Orr organizes and volunteers for countless school events to engage families such as Grits for Grandparents, the Fall Festival, and Family Picnic. She also works to build relationships and recruit volunteers within the community through opportunities such as Career Day for students and Spirit Nights, a fundraiser with local businesses, to support PTO teacher grants. With her leadership on multiple projects, total volunteer hours at the school rose from 4,050 hours in 2011 to 14,354 hours in 2015. The principal of Sand Hill Elementary, Carla Meigs, sums it up best, “Mrs. Orr exemplifies leadership and her dedication to our Patriot family has made a lasting impact.”
Cassandra Robinson-Wint may be best summarized by her answer to one of the questions on the Parent Leadership Award nomination form. When asked how many children she had attending Georgia’s public schools, her answer was “942,” the enrollment count for Alfred Ely Beach High School in the Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools. She serves as the Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) president, after reviving an almost non-existent PTSA, and works diligently to recruit parents to organize fund raising events for the school, and to orchestrate activities to increase family engagement such as Family Night and STEM Night. She is also active on the School Council and the Parent Advisory Council and can often be seen at School Board meetings advocating on behalf of parents and students.
The school described her as “well respected” and as a “leader in the community” and stated that her presence alone increased attendance at parent meetings. However, the contributions of Ms. Robinson-Wint’s that seem most relevant to her supporters are her personal interactions with students and their families. She works tirelessly to remove barriers for families by leading them to needed resources and further assisting them with securing those resources when necessary. The common descriptors echoed by everyone that nominated her were “she puts you at ease,” and she has been “invaluable” to the school, the students, and the parents. Cassandra Robinson-Wint, parent of 942 students at Alfred Ely Beach High School, makes the world a better place and gives hope for a better future to each and every one of them.