VILLA Parent Academy Sees Record Participation Cherokee County School Districts third annual Volunteer Instructional Leadership Learning Academy (VILLA) saw record participation this year. The award-winning parent academy program began two years ago as a pilot initiative developed with the Georgia School Boards Association (GSBA) and with the support of Cherokee County School Board Chair Kyla Cromer. The program recently won GSBAs Leading Edge Award, which recognizes innovative practices by governance teams and school districts. In response to the programs popularity, a morning session and an evening session were offered to expand enrollment, with 37 parents completing the program and graduating at the school boards November meeting. We greatly appreciate the growing number of parents who want to learn more about our school district, and how they can better support our schools and our students, Cromer said. Parent engagement is critical to our success, and the school board and I see VILLA as an important way for us to foster that engagement. VILLA is a free six-week program that offers participants the opportunity to learn more about public schools in their community. Topics including school operations, governance, funding, and accountability are covered in classes presented by CCSD staff, with question-and-answer sessions offered by the school board and school superintendent. Participants also take part in field trips to schools. The program concludes with a dinner and graduation ceremony. Class size is limited, with participants selected by application (the 2020 application window will begin in May). Classes are held in the fall with graduation in November. VILLA Class of 2019 includes Kari Armstrong, Amanda Bailey, Nicole Balejcsik, Dina Beeler, Jennifer Benns, Kim Beumel, Julie Carter, Bonnie Clark, Heather Crachi, Ashley Nettles Davey, Lynn Epps, Ashley Frey, Scott Grayson, Suzy Griffies, Amanda Griffin, Antoniqua Harris, Michelle Jones, Amy Kuleszynski, Alicia Lakhansingh, Heather Lawless, Audrey Legrand, Bob McNally, Angela Milko, Patricia Mwisa-Okoth, Kelly Nagel, Staci Powell, James Pugh, Jr., Kathy Sanders, Chanda Schwab, Megan Sparger, Scott Steinbrenner, Heather Stray, Anna Tang, Erin Thomas, Jennifer Ward, Tara Watkins, and Heather Zambrano.