The Pittsburgh Public School District is gaining national recognition thanks to School Board Representative Mark Brentley. The district 8 representative’s Take a Father to School Day initiative was named a grand prize winner in the American School Board Journal’s Magna Awards.
The Magna Awards recognize excellence in school district leadership. The Take a Father to School Day initiative was chosen for its innovative attempt at increasing parent involvement in the PPS.
“We sent them the numbers on attendance and the folks who participated and they were stunned by that,” Brentley said. “I am extremely excited that Pittsburgh was chosen and we’re looking forward to doing bigger and better things in the future in terms of getting fathers actively involved in the education of their children.”
Each grand prize Magna Award winner will receive $4000 to put toward their district’s initiative. Pittsburgh was one of three other districts recognized and Brentley will be accepting the award for his initiative at the Best Practices for School Leaders Luncheon, in Boston April 21.
“I’d also like to put out a call. Mark Brentley is looking for a few good men. This year we’re hoping will be the year that we reach 100 men. We’ve come close, but never made it to fulfilling our goal of 100 men,” Brentley said. “We’re confident that we’re going to get our 100 this year.”
Last year Brentley’s Take a Father to School Day initiative was surrounded in controversy after Superintendent Linda Lane criticized the initiative in a letter to Brentley. Lane’s letter, read by Brentley at a March 23, 2011 legislative meeting, was in response to Brentley’s request for an additional day of recognition for mothers. In the letter, Lane said the day created distractions and student behavioral issues.
However, the Take a Father to School Day initiative has been recognized by Pittsburgh City Council and been considered by other district’s around the country as a model for increasing parent involvement.
”I think what sets it apart is it’s a directional call. We’re asking the men to come out and get out,” Brentley said. “We’re happy each year we’re growing and I think it’s an excellent role model program for young children to see.”
The Magna Awards are sponsored by Sodexo School Services, a North American provider of integrated food and facilities management services. Each winner’s initiative will be featured in the May 2012 issue of American School Board Journal.
“Every year the judges tell us the Magna Award nominations are more compelling and creative. It is inspiring to read about the winning programs and to meet the board members who develop them. Their work clearly benefits the students and the communities they serve,” said Steve Dunmore, president, Sodexo School Services. “Sodexo is proud to support this recognition program that encourages innovative thinking in public education.”