Brenda Martin, Panelist NBC's EDUCATION NATION
"Stepping Up: The Power of a Parent Advocate"
"Education Nation", Parenting Magazine announcing Brenda as Parent Panelist
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Kentucky Delegate: Brenda Drummer Martin
Kentucky delegate Brenda Drummer Martin is Vice-President of PTA Membership at her daughter's school. As a mother of four, mentor, homeroom mom, district PTA president, among other positions, Drummer Martin has helped make education better. She also started an after school science and technology club which later became a summer camp.
At the end of last year KinderCare (a division of Knowledge Universe) ran a contest on the Mom Congress site to honor a mom for her involvement in advocating for better education in her local schools.
______________________________________________________ May 3, 2012
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RUSSELL — Parent advocate Brenda Martin says parents who volunteer in schools are breaking the “cookie-cutter mold” and are “mentoring, advocating and more.”
Martin is president of Northeast Kentucky PTA District 26 and of the PTSAs at Russell middle and high schools. She plans to attend a weeklong Education Nation conference in Atlanta that begins Friday and expects to return home “charged up and ready to go.
“Education Nation has become one of the premiere voices in education,” said Martin, adding she thinks Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream in his “I Have a Dream” speech “erupted exponentially with the birth of Education Nation. It allows the labor of many to catapult into a forum that breathes life into sharply awakening issues that keep King’s hope alive that one day each child will receive a stellar education and truly reach for the stars.”
While she has no official duties at the conference, Martin previously has been a panelist for “Stepping Up: The Power of the Parent Advocate” at Parenting Magazine’s Mom Conference in New York City. In 2011, Martin was one of two Kentucky delegates to the Mom Congress.
In the past, Martin says, parent volunteers at schools were often seen as cookie bakers and fundraisers. While PTA members still do that and she does not belittle the importance of that role, Martin said parents are now assuming more of a leadership role in advocating for better schools.
Many high schools and middle schools do not have PTAs, and that’s unfortunate,” Martin said. “Parents need to be just as involved with the lives and education of their children when they are in middle school and high school as when they are in grade school.”
“We must end ZIP code discrimination,” where the quality of education a child receives often depends on where the child lives, Martin said.
“All children must have a quality education making them career and college ready,” Martin said, adding she is greatly disturbed by the number of students who are graduating from high school not ready for college.
“We must improve our science standards promoting a rigorous K-12 curriculum,” said Martin. In a report on science education released by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, only California and the District of Columbia received an “A,” while more than half the states received a “D” or “F.”
“We must invest in early education,” Martin said. “Children who attend high quality preschools are vastly more likely to graduate from high school.”
Martin takes pride Kentucky became the first state to adopt the national Common Core Standards. The key now is to live up to those high standards and not back away from them, she said.
“We have to have high expectations for our children,” she said.
Martin said she will be writing a blog about the conference at debateandswitch.wordpress.com. However, the main goal will be to “do a lot of listening. There will be so many highly intelligent and motivated people there. I can learn so much by just keeping my ears and mind open.”
JOHN CANNON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (606) 326-2649.
April 24, 2011
Hopes to use ideas from Mom Congress to aid area students
FLATWOODS — Education advocate Brenda Drummer Martin can be excused if she has been bubbling over in recent days with enthusiasm and new ideas for improving schools.
After all, she has just returned from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., where she was Kentucky’s lone delegate at the second annual Mom Congress sponsored by Parenting magazine.
While in the nation’s capital, Martin — president of District 26 PTA, which includes all of northeastern Kentucky, and vice president of membership at (their) Primary School's PTA — met and talked to such people as U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Soraya Gage, executive producer of NBC Learn, and Byron Garrett of Life Works International and shared ideas with the other 50 delegates representing each state and the District of Columbia.
“It was a wonderful, wonderful conference and I feel so fortunate to be able to attend,” said Martin. “I just can’t wait to implement some of the ideas I picked up. I learned so much.”
While in Washington, Martin, the mother of four, also was selected by the White House communication staff and the U.S. Department of Education to participate in a national forum called “Winning the Future.” Her comments at the forum may be viewed at whitehouse.gov/champions/parents/brenda-drummer-martin
Parenting magazine launched the Mom Congress in 2010 “to celebrate and connect moms fighting for better schools.” Myrdin Thompson, Kentucky’s delegate to the first Mom Congress last May, participated in a panel discussion on arts education at last week’s event.
Martin said she was selected as Kentucky’s delegate through a competition sponsored by the magazine and based on involvement in community and school activities and an essay she wrote.
At the end of last year, KinderCare, a division of Knowledge University, had a contest on the Mom Congress website to honor “a mom for her involvement in advocating for better education in her local schools.”
“Brenda Drummer Martin won a (separate national award including a) book station from KinderCare after submitting an essay about how she serves her community, everything from reading to her children to chairing major events and leading local educational organizations,” Kathryn Young Thompson wrote in the magazine. “She is amazing.”
Martin is the founder of United Communities to Advance our Neighborhoods Inc. at ucanchange.webs.com or (visit NEKY district PTA at) facebook.com/neky.pta. Among other things, that organization has (co)sponsored a summer camp for children (along with the Northeast Kentucky Association for Gifted Education and the city's Area Technical Center.)
Martin’s oldest son, Cameron James, is a graduate of Emory University in Atlanta. Another son, Jim Martin II, is a student at the University of Louisville, and a third son, Caleb, is a ninth-grader. Her only daughter, Jocelyn, is a (third grade) student.
“I am a firm believer that parents need to be actively involved in their children’s schools,” Martin said. “All good schools have active parent organizations. In fact, an active parent group often is the difference between a really good school and an average one. Parents need to get involved and stay involved in their children’s schools.”
While a number of area schools have PTOs instead of PTAs, Martin is a firm believer PTAs are more effective.
“The problem with a PTO is that no matter how good it is, it only speaks for one school,” Martin said. “Because it unites parents from many different schools, a strong PTA can be an effective voice on education issues in Congress and in state legislatures.”
One thing Martin said she hopes will come out of her involvement in Mom Congress is a (NEKY) Youth Advocacy and Leadership Event, which she has dubbed (NEKY)YALE.
“I see it as a way to encourage youth to become advocates for their schools,” she said. “We need to listen to the ideas of young people and let them know that what they think is important to us.”
At the Mom Congress, Martin said she also was particularly interested in a panel discussion on school nutrition that included Seth Nicholson, U.S. field director for Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, Margo Wooten, director of nutrition policy for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and Kelly Chapman Meyer, founder of the Teaching Garden.
“I learned that it is possible for schools to prepare meals that are delicious and nutritious and don’t break the budget,” Martin said. “That’s the kind of meals we need to be serving in our schools.”
Martin, a native of Chicago who moved (this area) some 20 years ago when her husband accepted a position here, also has been active in the Northeast Kentucky Association for Gifted Education.
“I can’t say enough about my husband,” Martin said of Dr. James H. Martin Jr. “I could not do all that I do without his support. He both encourages and enables me.”
JOHN CANNON can be reached at email@example.com or at (606) 326-2649.