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.
"We started the VILLA program as another way to allow parents and community members to understand better how a school district operates," said Superintendent Ben Wiggins. "VILLA is a great way for us to not only share how different areas of a district operate but also allow for a lot of feedback and input from our families. 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, communications and family engagement, human resource management, facilities, budgets, 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 the facilities that the upcoming ESPLOST projects will impact.
During one of the monthly lunch meetings, parents got a behind-the-scenes look at a school safety feature the district has implemented. Sheriff Rod Howell, Police Chief Sean Ladson, 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 and Chief Ladson about law enforcement's role in response to such emergencies and their preparedness.
Tameko Palmore, a parent from Cox Elementary and C.A. Gray Junior High, shared, "This was a great experience. Learning about how every penny is spent to support the education of our children, the safety measures the district has put in place, and all the opportunities available to our children was great. I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of the first VILLA group, and I hope other parents will take the opportunity to participate."
The inaugural group of VILLA participants included Tameka Palmore (Cox Elementary), Elizabeth Stallings (Doerun Elementary), Glen Bryan (Funston Elementary), Laura Cox (Hamilton Elementary), Maggie Murphy (Norman Park Elementary), Raquel Jimenez (Odom Elementary), Courtney Alderman (Okapilco Elementary), Shamera Putnam (Stringfellow Elementary), Lori Clayton (Sunset Elementary), Kelly Bius (R.B. Wright Elementary), Beth Cannon (Willie J. Williams Middle School), Cindy Coney (C.A. Gray Junior High School), Whitney Costin (Colquitt County High School), and Justin Weeks (GEAR).