White House Honors Parents as Champions of Change

In a recent speech, Secretary Duncan noted that parents understand better than anyone how important it is that schools prepare students for success in life—not just with academic knowledge, but with the skills needed to succeed in jobs and to be an active participant in society.

Champions of Change logoParents and guardians are key to student achievement, which is why the White House recently recognized the importance of parental involvement by honoring 12 parents as “Champions of Change,” during a recent “PTA Day” at the White House. Over 175 PTA leaders from across the country met with senior officials from the White House and Department of Education to discuss the importance of family engagement.

Meet the 12 PTA Champions of Change. Click on each name to read about the Champion:

Melissa Kicklighterread her blog

Ana Chapmanread her blog

Calvin Endoread his blog

Emily Sackread her blog

Janelle Sperryread her blog

Deidre Pierceread her blog

Sam Macerread his blog

Anne Stafford  – read her blog

Sharon Whitworthread her blog

Sharon Meigh-Changread her blog

Carlina Brownread her blog

Mandy Pattersonread her blog

Visit ED’s new Parents & Family page, and sign up for email updates from our parent engagement team.



  1. A school is almost always better for having parents get involved; however, I’d like to see more efforts made by schools to actually involve parents in meaningful ways that extend beyond donating money and supplies and volunteering to do administrative work or chaperone field trips.

    Schools ought to be surveying all parents on a regular basis to determine what parents like and don’t like about schools, courses, and even teachers. As pointed out above, parents have a lot of knowledge and skills. Then schools ought to meaningfully follow up on the results of the survey. Too often, schools, like many institutions and bureacracies are only willing to listen to those who agree with the administrators. School boards often don’t have the expertise to address many matters, and some school boards strictly limit (or even eliminate) citizen input.

    While I admire the diligence and commitment of those who serve on PTAs, schools can always broaden and enhance their parent network and work to continuously improve what they do and how they do it.

  2. I am all for parental involvement in our schools. When parents get involved with their children’s lives, they are able to grow up with an instilled value for education and a desire to be advocates themselves and the cycle of nurturing families is created. However, what about those students who don’t have parents backing them? How do we instill this value into the families that don’t see it? It seems as though schools that are in the low-income, urban environments are lacking this extra support in their schools. I’m so happy to hear about those parents who are advocating for their children’s education, but who is going to advocate for those students who don’t have this support?

    • The concern is even greater than this. I live in an urban area and have a child on the autism spectrum. I also am currently low-income. Even with these difficulties, I am persistently active in my child’s life as an advocate. But urban areas quite often don’t have the resources that adequately support even an active parent. We don’t have advocates, affordable education lawyers, even pro-active support groups. Even the most active parent can flounder in resolve without support — much less a parent who doesn’t have the time nor the desire to be involved. Our schools here know this. They are resistant to change. Even bullying is not addressed. Students’ complaints are not listened to, and the “good-ol-boy” system continues rolling along. I’ve seen the school break the law, and it seems not to matter to anyone — not the superintendent, not the school board. Then the only accountability left is in a court room. I am afraid the only thing that will make a difference and change things are lawsuits. And so long as low-income, urban families cannot afford these and have no support, we will continue to be ineffective, powerless advocates for our children. There needs to be a universal system of accountability and mandatory continuing education that is proactive. I know — my Asperger’s son was operated on three times this summer as a result of a bully incident. The bully was never reprimanded, the tapes purged prior to the time limit and witnesses were not even interviewed. It seems to be an accepted belief that, in the middle school, children will bully those with odd behaviors and that’s just the way it is — at least that is what I have been told. Modern viewpoints and accountability trickle slower through society in the urban areas.

  3. In April 2011, another group of parents were recognized by the White House as Champions of Change, Parents on Education. These PTA and Mom Congress leaders were invited to a meeting with Secretary Russlyn Ali, and engaged in a conversation about how our communities were addressing issues in diversity. You can read more about Susan Burkinshaw, Susana Carella, Ellen Coulston, Brenda Drummer Martin, Melissa Erickson, Pamela Grundy, Laurie Halverson, Felisa Hilbert, Deloris Irving, Rebecca Levey, Valerie Lister, Darlene Shue, Dr. Marilyn Zaragoza, Miguel Rosario, and myself here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/champions/parents-on-education. In addition, I was invited (along with eleven others) to meet with President Obama this past April to participate in a celebration of the Champions of Change program. All champions should be honored and recognized for the continuing service they provide to their communities.

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