Heidi May Wilson, Senior Manager, Media Relations
ALEXANDRIA, Va., (Nov. 28, 2023)—National PTA is pleased to announce that five school leaders from across the country have been selected to serve as fellows with its Center for Family Engagement. Eight PTAs from across the country have also been selected to receive a grant from the Center for Family Engagement of $2,000 each. The fellowship and grant program are part of National PTA’s efforts to advance family-school partnerships nationwide. The fellowship and grant funding are made possible with support from PTA Proud National Sponsor GoGuardian.
The National PTA Principal Fellows for Family-School Partnerships are:
- Dr. Latonya Cooper
Dr. Latonya Cooper is the principal of Sea Castle Elementary School in Miramar, Fla. Dr. Cooper has over 23 years of experience in education. Through the fellowship, Dr. Cooper looks forward to networking with other school leaders who are taking innovative approaches to family engagement so that her school can engage all their families to help them feel safe on campus and comfortable speaking up about their needs as a community.
- Demetria Geathers
Demetria Geathers serves as assistant principal for instruction at Sheehy Elementary School in Tampa, Fla. Geathers has over 15 years of experience in education, predominantly in Title I schools, and is actively involved in her school’s PTA. Through the fellowship, she hopes to find innovative ways to engage families despite limited resources available to do so.
- Dr. Julie Haake
Dr. Julie Haake is the principal of Twin Echo Elementary School in Collinsville, Ill. Dr. Haake has over 30 years of experience in education, with 23 of those years in her current role. Twin Echo Elementary PTA was recognized with the 2023 Phoebe Apperson Hearst Family-School Partnership Award of Merit. Through the fellowship, Dr. Haake hopes to learn more about involving extended family members in the school and increasing membership in their PTA.
- Katrina Long
Katrina Long is the principal of Reese Road Leadership Academy in Columbus, Ga. She has over 16 years of experience in education and is also involved in many civic and community organizations. Long wants to use this fellowship experience to expand her school’s positive culture to be one of belonging for families who speak a language other than English and families of students with disabilities.
- Richard Schwartz
Richard Schwartz serves as assistant principal of Seaford Manor School in Seaford, N.Y. He has multiple years of experience in education with this year being his first as an assistant principal. Schwartz is interested in learning how schools across the country are finding a balance between consistency and innovation so that every family is engaged positively and meaningfully in their child’s education.
As fellows, Geathers, Dr. Haake, Long, Dr. Cooper and Schwartz will expand their knowledge and influence related to family-school partnerships. Specifically, they will identify a local problem of practice with the goal of strengthening their leadership around family-school partnerships; develop and implement a leadership plan around their problem of practice; and advise on the development of new resources for school leaders to support implementation of National PTA’s updated National Standards for Family-School Partnerships.
The 2023-2024 Advancing Family-School Partnerships Challenge grant recipients are:
- Hillsborough County Council PTA (Florida)
- Huntsville Council PTA (Alabama)
- Nassau Region PTA (New York)
- Northwest ISD Council of PTAs (Texas)
- Orange County Council PTA (Florida)
- Parma Council of PTAs (Ohio)
- Richardson ISD Council of PTAs (Texas)
- Ventura Council of PTAs (California)
With the grant, the PTAs will push for systems change approaches to enhance family engagement practices through National PTA’s updated National Standards for Family-School Partnerships. The PTAs will choose between providing testimony to decisionmakers, raising public awareness through a media outreach campaign or coordinating a joint awareness-building event to mobilize their community around the adoption of the updated PTA National Standards by their school district and/or board of education.
“Strong partnerships between families and schools are critical to support our students’ success academically, socially and emotionally, and there could not be a more urgent time for this,” said Yvonne Johnson, president of National PTA. “We are thrilled to have Demetria, Julie, Katrina, Latonya and Richard as fellows and to provide funding to the PTAs to help advance meaningful and effective strategies for strong partnerships that will make a real impact for students, families and schools.”
Last year, National PTA released its updated National Standards for Family-School Partnerships, which provide guidance for building strong partnerships between families, educators and schools to support student success. The updated PTA National Standards incorporate research and best practices since they were last updated in 2008; increase focus on diversity, equity and inclusion; and expand the approach to student success to include whole child development. For resources to support implementation of the standards, visit PTA.org/Standards and watch the association’s Transforming Family-School Partnerships Webinar Series.
“Our updated National Standards for Family-School Partnerships provide critical guidance and best practices for strong, meaningful partnerships between families and schools,” added Nathan R. Monell, CAE, National PTA executive director. “The fellows and PTAs will play an important role in supporting their schools and districts in implementing the standards.”
About National PTA
National PTA® comprises millions of families, students, teachers, administrators, and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of family engagement in schools. PTA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health, and welfare of children and youth. For more information, visit PTA.org.