Brooks hosts PTO forum in Alabaster

By SASHA JOHNS / Community Columnist

Last week, Superintendent Dr. Lewis Brooks and a team of other Board of Education professionals hosted the 11th annual Parent Teacher Organization Leadership Meeting.

PTO representatives from many of Shelby County’s 31 schools came to represent the elementary, middle and high schools they give their time in.

Parent volunteers were treated to a light breakfast and coffee as they were provided with information about the board’s ongoing missions and initiatives going forward under Brooks’s leadership.
Brooks began the program by sharing pictures from his own rise in the Shelby County School System.

As he spoke, he took time to relay where his own passion for education and kids started. “I’m here because of people back there,” he said. “Every day I want kids to think, ‘I can’t wait to go back tomorrow.’”

The superintendent laid out several exciting plans for the future of Shelby County education, including a new community initiative called Allpro Dads.

This is a program that will seek to regularly bring dads to breakfast in our schools for a little one-on-one mentoring time with students.
After leaders at the BOE were introduced, several ongoing programs were highlighted.

In particular, Melissa Youngblood, student services coordinator, and Emily Littrell, county social worker, shared the Shelby Cares program.

The program addresses the mental health of students in the county.

“Our schools are tackling a difficult subject, and it’s making a difference,” Youngblood said, speaking of the success of the program.

Participants watched a video explaining the “Three C’s” of the program – Connecting, Communicating, and Caring – and discussed the importance of each.

Not only were they educated on the services available through the county to help kids at risk, but also on how the county hopes to highlight the importance of mental health among students to faculty and families.

Parents also saw a presentation on social and emotional learning by professional development supervisor Dr. Angela Walker.

During this session, parents took personality assessments and learned more about how to work with different personality types, and how this translates into how the Board of Education wants school administrators to help kids learn how to mature socially and emotionally in the county.

“Mt Laurel Elementary is excited to have the fresh and forward-thinking mind of Dr. Brooks leading our county. We are looking forward to seeing the development of the SEL program. Implementing this program meets our students on the individual level, and as parents, this individualized learning is very important to us,” PTO leader Jill Bensinger said.

The forum ended in valuable breakout sessions, where PTO members divided into elementary, middle and high school brainstorming groups.

Members of each group were able to share fundraising ideas, as well as ask questions and collaborate about how to help their schools reach goals and become better equipped to serve students.