Parents-as-Partners (P.A.P)

Parents-as-Partners (P.A.P) are local groups of families of Scholars and alumni of A Better Chance who come together as a support network with the understanding that educating young people is a family affair. Through planned meetings and activities, hosted by A Better Chance, members of the Parents-as-Partners group assist the local office in making the A Better Chance experience successful for Scholars and their families, and in expanding program opportunities.

We believe that because it takes a village, every role matters!

Meet your P.A.P South East Executive Team

Seated from left to right:  Charlisa Dixon, Dionne M. Simmons, Phiona Gardner (Chairperson), Mary Stokes, Willa Onley.

Executive Team consists of individuals selected by the Parents-as-Partners Chairperson and the A Better Chance Program Manager to explore ways to better serve and support our scholars and their families, develop and implement enrichment and outreach programs, and find way to keep our families engaged through the various committees of the S.E. Region.  Take a moment to learn something about your Executive Team members, in their own words…

Charlisa Dixon:  

Charlisa Dixon started her career as an Education Coach with ChildCare Education Institute in February 2015 with the primary responsibility of leadership and support of CCEI’s English speaking students.

Charlisa has worked in the early childhood industry as a director, administrator, teacher, curriculum coordinator, and educational consultant. It is her desire to assist early child care educators obtain the professional development required to ensure their success and provide a quality educational program for young children.

Charlisa holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Georgia Southern University and a Master of Arts degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Phoenix. Her studies included a strong emphasis on math and science. She loves to travel, leading Girl Scouts, community service, and spending time with family and friends. She and her husband have one daughter Simone Dixon who is a part of class of 2020 at The Galloway School.   Charlisa has been a dedicated parent of PAP for five years.

Dionne M. Simmons: 

Dionne M. Simmons has been part of the A Better Chance family since 2013.  She and her husband Patrick have been active with various volunteer opportunities such as Interview Day, the School Fair, and SSAT Benchmark Testing.  Their son Donovan is an ABC scholar at Wesleyan School; he is a rising 10th grader.

As a member of the Parents as Partners Executive Team, Dionne will help manage the Special Events committee, and serving on the Technology team by tabulating the points for volunteer participation and writing content for the website.

Phiona Gardner: [P.A.P Chairperson]

I am your current Parents as Partner (P.A.P) Chairperson and my daughter, Taylor is a 10th grade ABC scholar at The Westminster Schools.  Community service has always been central in my life and it is the motivating factor in most everything I do, outside of work.  Therefore, when I was approached to lead this amazing organization- I realized that it would be a major undertaking but one that I felt was needed and necessary.

From the start the vision for P.A.P  is to be resource for our ABC families & scholars as we navigate through this unique experience that is ‘private school.’  We want P.A.P to be a safe space where we can connect with each other, learn from one another and grow together.   Over the last couple of years, we have kept those principles in mind as we’ve created events/workshops and launched various initiatives in the hopes of cultivating that sense of community.   

We are working tirelessly to make this an organization that better serves your family but we also need your help and your support when we put on these events/programs.  

Mary Stokes:

Mary Stokes is an alumni of A Better Chance and a member of the Executive Team for the Southeast Region.  In this role she works with the Program Director to execute the mission of the national A Better Chance board.  In addition, she serves as the Parent Ambassador co lead for middle school scholars.  Mary’s husband, Sam Miller, is an active volunteer in the local A Better Chance office and her daughter, Taylor, is a current A Better Chance scholar.

Willa Onley:

My name is Willa Onley and I am a native of Atlanta, GA (hard to believe, isn’t it!) My ABC scholar is Kendall Onley who is currently a junior at the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey.

I have several years of experience serving as a Chairperson and Board member for various committees and organizations, ranging from PTA president, site leader for a corporate community partners service organization, and volunteer coordinator for several non-profit organizations. My objective is to increase the involvement of our Boarding school scholars and parents while bringing more awareness and interest to the possibility of attending a Boarding or Community school.

My belief is that true leadership is best exemplified through serving. I am very excited for the opportunity to serve on the PAPSE Executive Team and look forward to working with this phenomenal organization.