A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Erlanger-Elsmere Schools celebrates 105 graduates from Leadership Scholars Parent Academy

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Erlanger-Elsmere Schools celebrated special graduates recently. The remarkable new alumni aren’t high school seniors. They’re district parents who have successfully completed the Leadership Scholars Parent Academy.

For the past eight weeks at every school in the Erlanger-Elsmere Independent School District, parents have spent their evening hours attending the Leadership Scholars Parent Academy to gain information, skills, and resources to help their students succeed in school and beyond. After completing the rigorous course, they were celebrated for their achievement at a graduation ceremony, complete with caps and gowns.

The momentous celebration was filled with pomp and circumstance. Some of the district’s musical groups performed. Dr. Fernando Figueroa, president of Gateway Community and Technical College delivered the keynote address. Elected and government officials were in attendance. And, most importantly, the parent participants were recognized for their tremendous commitment to their children’s futures. It was a fitting conclusion to a program that is both critically important and deeply impactful.

“Leadership Scholars has been invaluable to me,” said Stacey Cammack, parent participant at Arnett Elementary. “The parents and caregivers in my class are a beautiful collection of diversity.  We are racially different, culturally different and socio-economically different but we are all gathering for the same reason.  All of our stories are different but the bottom line is that we want our children to succeed.”

Leadership Scholars is a Cincinnati-based nonprofit, founded on the belief that every child deserves a quality education, regardless of socioeconomic background. The primary way Leadership Scholars achieves this is through the its Parent Academy – an innovative course that blends college readiness and a success mindset. The comprehensive eight-week program is designed to empower parents, or any significant adult in a child’s life, with proven strategies and tools to support strong academic, social, and emotional development, with the ultimate goal of helping children attend and graduate college.

Collaboration among students, parents, principals, teachers, and schools is key to the program’s success – so are the efforts to make all facets of the program as easy and productive as possible. Not only is the program offered to families completely free of charge, but organizers go out of their way to remove barriers to participation.

At Erlanger-Elsmere Schools, this includes a free family dinner, childcare, and even sessions in Spanish.

While this groundbreaking program has been offered at nearly two dozen schools across Greater Cincinnati, this fall marked the first time it has been implemented throughout an entire district. The program’s leadership will look closely at the data and consider this initiative a pilot program for the entire region.

“This has been a big undertaking, and we’re so pleased so many parents participated in this first endeavor,” said Dr. Kathy Burkhardt, superintendent of Erlanger-Elsmere Schools. “As we see things that are going on in the world right now, it’s really important that parents feel they are a part of the schools and engaged in their children’s education. We are very proud of the 105 parents who participated and the many teachers, principals, and other staff members who facilitated parent groups, provided childcare, meals, etc. This was a true collaborative effort on behalf of our parents and our EES staff members.

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