Parents Complete VILLA Program

Pictured (left to right) Dr. Catherine Brown, Marybell Hernandez, Mercedes Cardenas Sanchez, John Friedman, Monique Tripp, Carrie Lasseter, Anna Davis, Heather Smith

Parent representatives from each district school recently completed a six-month immersion program.  Volunteer Instructional Leadership Learning Academy (VILLA) is a program developed by the Georgia School Board Association to expose parents and community volunteers to many of the operational areas of a school district.  The parents were invited to participate by their child's school principal. Superintendent Wiggins and other district administrators lead the program.

"VILLA is another way the district is engaging with parents and families.  It is a chance for participants to learn about how a school district operates," said Superintendent Ben Wiggins.  "VILLA also allows for a lot of feedback and input from families and community members.  Hearing from them first-hand is extremely helpful in making us the best district we can be."

The parents attended five lunch sessions where they were presented with different school and district governance topics.  The topics included school board governance, teaching and learning, human resource management, facilities, budgets, school safety, and student services.  The school district department heads presented the monthly topics and gave parents insight into how those areas impact and support classroom instruction.  In addition to the monthly topics, the group took a tour of Willie J. Williams Middle School and Colquitt County High School, where several renovation and addition projects have begun.

During one of the monthly lunch meetings, parents got a behind-the-scenes look at school safety features the district uses.  Sheriff Rod Howell and Colquitt County School District Director of Safety Sean Edgar demonstrated how the school district's Centegix badges alert law enforcement and school emergency response teams when there is a concern, such as a health crisis with an employee or student.  Parents could feel how the badges work as if they were employees and see the systems in play during an alert.  They then heard from Sheriff Howell about law enforcement's role in response to such emergencies and their preparedness.

Anna Davis, a parent participant, shared, "Through this experience, we gained invaluable knowledge about various aspects crucial to our children's education, including curriculum plans tailored to meet students' needs, transparent insights into financial allocations ensuring resources are optimally utilized, advancements in school safety protocols ensuring a secure learning environment, and ongoing facility additions and improvements to enhance the overall educational experience.  Being a part of this program has been a wonderful experience, allowing me to gain further insight into the decisions shaping our school system's future.  The dedication and commitment demonstrated by educators, administrators, and fellow parents alike have left me inspired and optimistic about the direction our schools are heading.  I look forward to witnessing the positive transformations and continued growth and success of our students within the Colquitt County School System."

The VILLA participants included Mercedes Cardenas Sanchez (Cox Elementary), Kimeshia Sumlin (Doerun Elementary), Amber Miller (Funston Elementary), Monique Tripp (Hamilton Elementary), Jenna Turner (Norman Park Elementary), Heather Smith (Odom Elementary), Brooke Sealy (Okapilco Elementary), Tylisha Hill (Stringfellow Elementary), Marybell Hernandez (Sunset Elementary), Anna Davis (R.B. Wright Elementary), Carrie Lasseter (Willie J. Williams Middle School), John Friedman (C.A. Gray Junior High School), Rob Craft (Colquitt County High School), and Dr. Catherine Brown (GEAR). 

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