More than 130 parents from towns
and cities across Connecticut graduated on June 24, 2006,
from a first-of-its-kind family civics program, the Parent
Leadership Training Institute (PLTI).
The graduates - from Bridgeport, Danbury, East Hartford, Meriden, New London, Norwalk, Stamford, and Waterbury as well as Middlesex County - received diplomas after putting in more than 100 hours each to develop the skills needed to become education leaders in their communities.
The Connecticut Commission on Children, state business leaders, and the American Leadership Forum founded PLTI 14 years ago, after two things became apparent: 1) that too many parents lacked the skills to get involved in civic affairs, and 2) that they desperately wanted to get involved. PLTI is designed to teach parents how community change occurs.
The course requirements include community projects of the students' choosing, and this year's graduates did everything from raise funds for renovation of their local library to launch mentoring programs.
Milagrosa "Millie" Seguinot,
one of the 2006 graduates, led her neighbors at Yale Street
Commons in Bridgeport in the creation of an after-school and
mentoring program there. Elderly residents watch the younger
children and make sure they do their homework; high school
students are on hand to offer tutoring. Thanks to her PLTI
training, Millie secured a $500 grant for the program.
"PLTI gave me the opportunity to start this and make it a reality," she said. "It's such a great program. I consider myself a very successful leader."
Commission on Children Executive Director Elaine Zimmerman said many parents want to become community leaders but aren't sure how to go about it. "Parents who work two or sometimes three jobs just to keep their children clothed, fed, and housed also worry about whether their kids are getting good educations," she said. "PLTI gives them empowerment through democracy skills."
The graduation ceremonies, held at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, included an address by soon-to-retire Danbury Superintendent of Schools Eddie Davis.
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All photos: Pat Estill