June 24, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For More Information Contact:
Brigitte Blom Ramsey, Executive Director
Tireless Advocate for Parent Leadership Passes Away
In 1991, Raimondo left a career in management at IBM in Lexington to join Bob Sexton at the Prichard Committee and to coordinate community and grassroots support for implementation of the recently enacted school reform efforts. Her own experiences as a parent sparked an interest in improving the link between schools and families.
Upon joining the Prichard Committee, she organized more than 60 Community Committees for Education in more than 90 school districts to build understanding and support for the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990. She later coordinated and implemented the dialogue process called Parents and Teachers Talking Together (PT3), which has reached more than 12,000 participants.
In 1996, Raimondo proposed the idea of in-depth parent leadership training and by 1997 was leading development of the training curriculum and recruiting parents for the new Prichard Committee initiative. The Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership caught on with state and national foundations that provided funding to offer the program free to participants. The institutes drew a long list of applicants and expanded Prichard’s partnerships with education groups across the state.
In an interview following her retirement, Raimondo said the program was built on the idea that parents want detailed information and serious ways to be involved in school, which proved to be true. “I have always insisted on high expectations for parents,” she said. “We were holding students to higher expectations and we were holding educators to higher expectations and accountability. We had to hold parents to higher expectations. This was even hard for some of our staff because they were reluctant to ‘push’ volunteers. But, we developed a curriculum that explains the Kentucky education system to the parents involved, provided their school’s data in a format they could quickly grasp, introduced them to skills for engaging parents and meeting with school people, introduced them to other education resources, and required them to work with us for up to two years to design and implement a project that involves other parents, focuses on improving student achievement, and has a lasting impact.”
Since its inception, the program — now known as the Governor’s Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership — has produced over 2,100 Fellows across Kentucky. Many participants went on to be elected to local school councils and school boards and even became appointees to the state Board of Education. The institutes are an annual fixture, with sessions planned this fall in Eastern Kentucky, Northern Kentucky and Jefferson County.
“Every year, parents have told me ‘it changed my life,’” Raimondo remembered in the 2013 interview. “We’ve kept a laser focus on student achievement and engaging parents. We’ve seen conversations change when parents are together — less complaining and more discussion about how to help schools and students.”
From the Institute’s success, Raimondo went on to lead the Prichard Committee’s Center for Parent Leadership which consulted with groups in Delaware, Mississippi, Ohio and other states adapt and develop similar parent leadership programs. National parent-involvement experts hailed the Kentucky institute. Anne T. Henderson, author and senior consultant with the Annenberg Institute for School Reform in Rhode Island, called it “the flagship program in the nation.”
Raimondo continued to lead the program through 2013. In November 2012, Governor Steve Beshear added clout to the Institute by agreeing to allow it to be renamed the Governor’s Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership and helping to raise awareness about the importance of parent leadership in education. “We know how important it is to invest in education for the future of Kentucky, and we can’t overlook parents as a critical resource,” Beshear said in the ceremony in the state capitol.
Cindy Heine, retired associate executive director of the Prichard Committee, who worked closely with Bev for many years commented, “Bev added such tremendous value to the Prichard Committee’s work and goals for school improvement. She was also a dear friend and will be missed terribly.”
“Bev touched so many lives by empowering parents all across Kentucky to help support and expect school improvement. Having participated in CIPL in 1999, Bev was incredibly influential in my own advocacy for excellence in education – as a parent, a local elected school board member, later as a state board of education member and now, leading the Prichard Committee. Bev’s passion and vision for citizen engagement in service to our schools and our students will live on in all aspects of the Prichard Committee’s work”, said Brigitte Blom Ramsey, executive director of the Prichard Committee.
Visitation services will be Wednesday, June 29 from 12-2pm at Kerr Brothers Funeral Home, 463 East Main, Lexington, KY. Funeral services will be held at 2 pm Wednesday, June 29 at Kerr Brothers Funeral Home. Burial will follow at The Lexington Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute www.dana-farber.org, Hospice of the Bluegrass, http://www.hospicebg.org/lexington, The Lexington Children’s Theatre www.lctonstage.org/support-us/give-online/, The Salvation Army, Lexington, http://ky.salvationarmy.org/lex-kentucky, The Prichard Committee GCIPL Program, http://prichardcommittee.org/donate/