December 2011

Julia Whitten of Walton High School Travels To Bay Area For Project Green Challenge Finals


Walton High School senior Julia Whitten is one of just 12 high school and college students selected to participate in the Project Green Challenge finals this weekend in Marin County, California. Julia was selected from thousands of students from across the country that took part in the “Teens Turning Green” 30-day eco-lifestyle challenge. The student-led program is focused on encouraging teens to make socially and environmentally responsible lifestyle choices.

At the Project Green “Green University” event, Julia and her fellow participants will learn from esteemed ecology experts and create platforms for social action. Areas of focus include sustainable, local, and organic food, 100% recycled paper, reusables in place of single use items, and mindful revisions of school practices. These innovative campaigns will be implemented by “Teens Turning Green” and youth on campuses nationwide in 2012.

Julia will also compete for a grand prize package, including a $5000 educational scholarship, eco bedroom or dorm room makeover, a year’s supply of many eco products, a bicycle, a years worth of groceries and more.

Visit the Project Green Challenge website for more information.

Resourceful Cheatham Hill Parent Liaison Promotes Family Engagement As Key To Student Success

Encouraging busy parents to be more involved with their child’s education is often a challenge for any school, but a resourceful parent liaison has found a unique approach by taking the education directly to them. Shara Vega, Cheatham Hill Elementary’s parent liaison, has begun facilitating a “Guiding Good Choices” parenting workshop at a local apartment complex where many families live.

Guiding Good Choices is a five-session program supported by the Cobb County School District’s Success for All Students Program that teaches parents of children ages 9-14 how to reduce the risk that their children will develop future drug problems. Mrs. Vega drives to Belle Chase Apartments each Thursday to talk with a dozen parents about techniques they can use to help keep their kids out of trouble during their teenage years. These particular classes are taught solely in Spanish in an empty apartment that Belle Chase has provided. Mrs. Vega adapted the workshop format by doing the classes in a non-traditional setting and by improvising with no audio visual or projection equipment. She shows DVDs on her laptop and writes class notes on large post-it notes stuck to the walls.

“Parenting is the foundation of every home,” says Vega who refers to the families she works with as living, growing entities. “Every family is like seed that grows to become a tree. As it grows, it develops branches shaped by different experiences that become part of the family’s core. These branches are shaped by the family’s finances, education, emotions and communication. By teaching the Guiding Good Choices Workshops, we have the opportunity to shape and strengthen some of these branches. The parents learn how to improve communication by creating family nights and strengthening lines of communication with their children.”

According to Cheatham Hill Assistant Administrator Tom Martin, Cheatham Hill Elementary School takes an active role in the Hispanic families that make up the school community. He explains, “Cheatham Hill Elementary is truly a diverse school that benefits from the involvement of all of students and parents. The bridging of the language barrier through our Spanish liaison has been a strong link in closing a gap for our school.”

Success for all Students plans to expand this model to other communities in the area. “Through our partnership with Cheatham Hill Elementary, we continually see the impact of taking parenting education into the community and homes of our students and families. This integration leads to great outcomes for our students and community at large,” reports Stuart Bachman, Parent Training Coordinator for the Success for All Students program.

Submitted by Stuart Bachman, Success for All Students

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