Tag Archives: PTO

What Makes a Parent Leader?

Peony

The more I hear parents say that they didn’t think they could do or have a say in  x, y or z because they are just parents, the more I realize the importance for someone to be there to say, yes you can.

Serving as a parent leader isn’t just about planning meetings and recruiting. When I first took my position I didn’t want to ever be referred to as the president of our group. I preferred to simply inspire and contribute, in the same way I always had, alongside all the other parents. I believe it does not matter how wonderful of an idea you have, if those around you don’t support or practice it, it is nothing more than an idea (and ideas alone don’t make you a leader). I don’t know that I will ever come to feel comfortable with the titles…but I have come to see that that role for one, is not a role only one person fills. There can be many. Although a HUGE part, it is more than someone who is willing to just work beside others. It is also (in no particular order, other than how the thoughts passed through my head)…

Someone who is willing to step out from the crowd, at times, to push the group to be better or achieve more, based on community needs. Someone who chooses to expect more and not just the status quo.

Someone who understands the importance of building relationships with not only the families in their community – but also the school principal, staff and beyond. A positive relationship is what helps you work together as a team. I’m not saying a parent group can’t achieve a lot on their own – but in the last year of going through times of not having that strong, positive relationship with our building (not me alone – but our parent community), I saw firsthand the impact it has on what we can achieve. We cannot do it alone. The parent group and school achieve more by working together.

It requires you to not only set an example of how to build partnerships – but also share (and share often) why those partnerships are so important. These partnerships go beyond your building. They are with the others in your district and community. I don’t think they prevent building level achievement – but I do think they can amplify them.

It is someone who remembers to see things from an outsider’s perspective or view point. To be realistic at times, but also wear the rose colored glasses often.

For those using social media, it is setting the example of how to use it, and having no fear in asking and reminding others to follow suit. Personally, I take that beyond our building because social media has no boundaries or walls.

It is someone who can have those difficult conversations. Every single one of these things on this list will require a conversation that you would much rather ignore or run from (and that would be the easiest option). But the easiest option is almost never the best.

To love learning. This might be a deal breaker for me. You cannot lead if you do not love to learn. Leading requires constant learning both from your experiences and how to address and work with the  new challenges, and/or individuals, that come with each new day.

Passion. This (at least for me and those I know) is a volunteer position. There is no paycheck…no money to serve as a motivator.

Someone who has the ability to say no. This one I often fail miserably on – but have become far better in the last year. There’s no way to do everything, everyone asks…no matter how much you want to. I have begun to pick my battles and say yes to those things I have the most passion for.

And finally, someone who has a strong support system. People that you can depend on, to support you emotionally, serve as a resource and also not be afraid to tell you no or when you’re wrong. Last night (as I have said many times), I would not have taken on this role without having a support system…and there is no way I would have been able to continue without them. From those who are literally my physical neighbors, to those that are a tweet, DM, message or vox away…they are my strength and oxygen.

So now I realize this is a crazy long list of qualities, and I thought about editing them for the most important ones (in my opinion) – but I can’t choose (and this post has now been sitting on my screen for a week). These though, they all just seem to be uber important to me. I don’t believe one is strong in all of these, all of the time; but possesses these qualities more often than not. Your thoughts? Would you take any off? What would you add?


Brighten Someone’s Day

Tree

 

This past week I took my kids to a well known fast food chain. Not something I do often, but I was tired and so were the kids…not sure any of us would have held up long enough to sit in a restaurant. From the minute we walked in, we were greeted by a smile and warm welcome by this employee. After placing our order we waited…and waited, for our food. Two mins became almost fifteen. I can tell you, after a long day of being out, there was a reason why I gave in to fast food…it because we would get our food fast. Each passing minute, I feared we were closer to one of my children melting down. They were like little ticking timebombs. Every few mins this sweet girl would check on our food and us. When it was finally ready, she apologized and offered us a free dessert.

Whether she knew it or not, this girl working behind the counter controlled this conversation. Although normally all smiles, today I was tired and done. This lovely girl could have followed my lead, taken our order and simply blamed the delay and my dissatisfaction on someone else. But she didn’t, she set the tone and steered the conversation and experience in a positive direction, starting with her smile, and although I passed on the dessert offer, her genuine concern during our wait was much appreciated. In the end it was not what I got, but the experience I had. She not only prevented me from becoming upset over the longer wait, but she had improved my mood overall. For that I thank her.

When dealing with others, I think we need to remember that it isn’t only what we do for them, but how we do it. We have the power to change someone’s mindset, brighten their day…starting with something as simple as a smile. How we greet others, from our body language to the words that come out of our mouths, can set the tone for the conversation going forward. Empathy and patience, can do as much for the conversation as our actions.

 

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile,

but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”

Thích Nhất Hạnh


Tear Down These Walls…

Berlin Wall at Ronald Reagan Bldg and Intl Trade Center in DC - G.Pescatore

I hate walls! They block your view and prevent you from hearing clearly what is being said on the other side. (These particular walls I am referring to also wake me up at 430 in the morning….which note, waking up at 430 a.m. is one big reason you will not see me have anymore children. I don’t sleep a lot, but when I am sleeping….I don’t appreciate being woken in the midst.)

So often we talk about issues arising from the” us versus them” mentality; be it one ethnic community versus another; PTO board-parents; parents-school; parent-teacher; school boards-educators or parents. So often, I see and hear the comment repeatedly come up in conversations (written and verbal) that, yes, we need to build relationships and respect one another. Relationships are the core foundation of what we need for success. Yet then people say, do and write things that not only keep walls in place, but at times, make them bigger.

If we truly want to break these walls down and realize this vision of working together without walls between us…

We need to humble ourselves.

We need to realize that no one individual is better than the next (I don’t care how educated you are/aren’t or how much money is/isn’t in your bank account or if you speak the English language or not).

You can be at the top…or the bottom of the ladder in the blink of an eye.

We need to not only talk about working together – but actually have actions to back that statement (and when you dig deep, if you don’t believe it, than you really need to find a role that you do truly believe in).

We need to remember that we all are 50% of the problem….but CAN and also NEED to be 50% of the solution.

A child is just that; a child. We need to be providing them with positive reinforcement…not tearing them down.

We need to greet others with an open heart and open mind.

We need to remember we all are human; breathing the same air, standing on the same ground.

Our words can have a lasting impact on those we speak to and of…good or bad.

We all need to remember…before we say or do something; listen to what you are saying from the shoes of someone on the other side of that statement (wall). How would that impact you and your actions going forward?

Just as we tell our children to be kind and think of others. We need to practice what we preach. Our actions DO speak louder than our words…but words also have the power to shape someone’s perception of reality (and perception is reality to them). If we can knock down these walls that divide and prevent us from working together, we might be pleasantly surprised at the potential of others and what we can all accomplish.


Back to “Home”

trouble

This month our elementary school welcomed a new principal. As with the changing of any leader (be it in business, sports or school), there is always that level of uncertainty. Some questions I heard during this time…will they change everything? Will they see our school for what it really is…beyond the test scores? Will they welcome families and the community in the same way? Or, as my children put it…will they be nice?

Starting over with a new principal feels much like when my game piece, that was over half way around the board, is sent back home while playing the game Trouble with my youngest this week. You are back to first working to get that 6, and then turn by turn, making your way back around the board to not only get to where you were before you were sent home…but beyond that and to the finish line (although in the school relationship, there is no finish line…it’s ongoing).

So, with a new face, comes our group’s responsibility to go back to square one (or “home”) to build that relationship and trust. Much like we do when welcoming new families, through a warm welcome; the sharing of important/key information; and the getting to know what skills and/or assets they bring to our school (everyone has something), we must do with our new principal. The trust piece simply will be earned over time and through various ways including respect, each of us following through on the promises we make, and always doing what’s best for the school and kids and not for one’s self.

If we are truly to work together as a team, before too much time passed, it was important to discuss expectations and communication. These are not givens. Without having this conversation, there is no way one can accurately assume what the other expects and how they best communicate. (I gave our new principal a week I think before requesting that we sit down and go over these). As much as I would have loved to let him get settled a bit more, we have a busy Jan coming up.

So what were some key pieces we talked about?

  • Expectations:
    • What we as the parent group and as parents need from him as the principal
      • I have created a Google doc to list these things…not because the needs are endless…but because sometimes it is those little things that you don’t give much thought to…until they aren’t done or are missing.
    • What does he, the principal expect of us
      • Not only does he not know us, but he may have a different idea of how things should be implemented; asking his preference is the only way to know. In our case, it is different from what/how we did things before. Neither way is good or bad, right or wrong…just different.
      • Not a conversation I have had yet given the newness to the position – but once he gets settled, I will ask him the same question I asked our middle school principal when I first met with him…what role does he see parents and the parent group playing in the school?
        • This is one that I feel isn’t set in stone. The answer doesn’t define how parents are involved…but it does tell you where your starting point is. From there you can push the thinking if needed.
  • Communication:
    • Frequency: On a schedule or as needed (at our elementary school, I find it is needed almost weekly…middle school is far less)
    • Method: not only how they prefer to communicate (email, collaborative Google doc, face-to-face meetings), but what works best (are they always in their office, at a computer, or constantly on the go with or without access to technology?)
      • With our last elementary principal, we played with a variety when we found that emails were NOT the most effective. They got lost in other emails (going unanswered) and at busier times of the year, filling an inbox with dozens of emails each week.
    • Finding the balance of what works for all
      • Without reliable means to effectively communicate – even the greatest of plans will have its limits of success
      • It is also ever-changing. What works in week 1 may not be what works in 6 months. It needs to be evaluated regularly.
  • Successes and Shortcomings:
    • In this conversation we touched on what our school is doing well and how those pieces have made our school community what it is (or isn’t).
      • I say touch because I (as much as I try), as one person, from one lens, cannot accurately sum up all of our strengths and weaknesses. I think for him to get an accurate picture, it will take getting feedback from say our ESL families, our families with children in learning support or the gifted program, families from various economic circles, AND our teachers.
    • We do many great things, and want to preserve what we do well and what makes our school so special – but it is equally important to be candid about our shortcomings and maintain an open mind to new ideas so that we can continue to become a better place by the day for our children.

Our principal is still very new…and I know that although it is smooth going to start, as we dig deeper into tackling tasks, we will have our differences, and pieces may end up back at the start. But, with patience, an open mind, respect for one another and continuing to remember our kids are the why; I can go on believing that we will soon reach that second half of the game board again.


New Look to PTO Agenda Includes Students and Community

student center - nisce org

This last year, Twitter chats and #ParentCamp have been beyond inspirational to me. I truly love the constant, 2-way discussions between parents, educators and students. I cannot get enough of the global learning and collaborating. I really wanted to see our school and home & school association (PTO) take those two things and turn our meetings into mini chats/sessions. Having dialogue between school and families in ways such as chats and #ParentCamp can do nothing but benefit every school community.

During last week’s #PTchat we discussed student-centered parent group meetings. To me, this is the change all groups need to make. Making the students the center of all discussions has helped improve our meetings. The change aided in the issue of attendance, and also improved the quality of discussion between those attending. During the chat, I shared the agenda we planned out for our home and school meeting’s new look/layout. I shared more about the planning and pieces of it in my post here….but as excited as I was about the schedule we were building for the new year, it wasn’t at a point where I felt comfortable sharing. It is now pretty well set, and we’re ready to share. This is our first year doing something like this – so yes, there is plenty of room to grow.

To start, I set the spreadsheet up in Google Docs to simplify the ability to collaborate. If someone had an idea, they could add it on their own, for all others to see immediately. Each month has a theme that relates to what we have coming up at our school/effecting our families. The components try to compliment that theme, or address an additional upcoming event/concern. Given that we built this during summer break – a few of the student voice segments are still unfilled. As the school year gets up and running and classes and clubs start forming, planning and learning, we will fill the remaining openings. As far as the “Edu Voice” piece…this is our opportunity to really bring in the community. Yes, many of those months may be filled with our own teachers, but I hope to also use this to highlight the many professionals in our community near and far who can offer insight on a given topic.

To give you a clearer picture, I am sharing the full agenda/schedule, but it is only the outline which I believe can be carried over from school to school. Every school will have their own unique events and issues that are important to their families. It is those things that will be the focus of their meeting.

Knapp Elem Home & School Association 2013-14 Meeting Agenda

2013-14 Knapp H&S Meeting Agenda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are volunteering because of the kids. We are here to make today better than yesterday for them. To do so we need to make sure all voices are represented and we are a go to resource for information.

image credit: nisce.org


Fostering Home and School Partnerships Through Education

pyramid

“Visible learning, in all forms, helps a school truly become a community. It takes a village…” Stacey Wallwin commented on our discussion on Twitter about engaging parents. I couldn’t agree more. If we want to aid in building long-standing, strong partnerships between home and school, we need to be a source of information.

In speaking with our group of over 40 class captains and many other parents, the common “favorite moment” among all of them, were the times when they left the school with knowing something new to help them as a parent. Our parent-teacher book chat, our staff voice piece about RtII (What is it? How is the data used? What does that mean for my child?), and #ParentCamp all received numerous raving comments. This year we are trying something new for our monthly parent meetings. Well, not entirely new…more like expanding on what we were doing last year. We are using our monthly meetings to continue to share out as much information and resources with families and the community as possible. It is more than a wish to build the number of participants at our monthly meetings – it’s about empowering families so they can be part of the foundation that our great community is built on.

So last week, at our first board “gathering” (meeting sounds to heavy for summer), I made a suggestion; that we scrap our current agenda outline and build a meeting that parents would want to attend; packing it full of opportunities to learn about the school, students, community and how to support learning in all of those hours when our children are not in school, yet with the little free time we all seem to have.  We will then plan out the year in advance and post the schedule for families to plan in advance to attend the meetings most relevant and appealing to them. So what are we looking to include?

Tech Training (30 min prior to start of the meeting): a chance for parents to get a quick lesson in technology. The first one on how to join our meetings (or anything else) virtually. That means they have a choice over the following 8 months on how they wish to join us…physically or virtually. Others we are looking to include are social media use, tools/sites helpful for students as study tools or to complete HW or research; Study Island & Edmodo (both used by students at school and from home); edu-sites and apps.

Parenting: This will be a piece that we will share an article, chapter or short video in advance of the meeting (something that parents can read or watch in less than 15 min) and then participate in a mini discussion or Q&A during the meeting.

Edu-Voice: In the past we were always turning to the teachers to inform us parents. Although the teachers are still an important resource for us to learn from, this year we are looking to expand it to anyone in our community that can share their expertise on a topic relating to our children. With tools such as Skype or Google hangout – we are able to learn from those across the hall or across the world.

There are some things we are not looking to change…

Student Voice: A piece from last year that we believe in keeping. Us parents loved hearing about the good things happening at our school, the students (for the most part) liked having the spotlight for a few moments, and it brought in a few new faces each month.

1 hour time limit: This is key! Families are busy and no matter how much they want to know what is going on at the school…they don’t have the time to spend hours at a school meeting. To accomplish this, it requires clock watchers who aren’t afraid to say, “move on.” I hope that the number of families using our Facebook page and on Twitter continues to grow and the discussions can continue not only when we are together in the same room – but also online while we are waiting for our children to finish their extra curricular activity or sitting in the pediatrician’s waiting room.

Business as Usual: We want to keep all families in the loop and participating with the home & school association. They need to know what is upcoming and in the plans so they. To save on time, and because we have already shared it online and in the newsletter, we will eliminate the re-hashing of news that has happened since the last meeting.

Live streaming: It is the most successful tool we’ve used to reach and include more parents and staff than any other. We’d be crazy to abandon it.

I see our group’s role in the school and community much like the role of those I turned to as a new parent. When we had our first child, we read endlessly, talked to everyone from the doctors to our family and friends, and then in the end, pulled the pieces of advice from each, that best suited our child and family, to form our own parenting style. Here, we are one of the pieces to help each student achieve their potential.

Image credit: sxc.hu


Using the School Lobby to Engage Parents

Paulus Cheung

Last night I was finalizing my agenda for the first meeting with our 2013-14 home & school team (PTO as some of you may refer to it). This is the second year serving for most of us and the vision hasn’t changed much. We want to continue finding ways to engage more parents in the world of learning at our school. Last year we focused on building connections with parents and between families and the school with face to face interactions and expanding on our use of technology. But what this year? How do we increase participants and the level at which they’re involved? We could continue to do the same thing…but I, personally, would get bored. Who wants to hear people say the same thing over and over? I don’t even like saying the same thing twice. Last year the idea of a parent resource center/room was thrown out there, but some didn’t feel parents needed a “room” (not that there was a room open…just in discussion). Parents might not need a room, but they do need the resources that would be found in that room.

Thinking about why and where parents interact with schools

The why is simple, because of their children. At our school, I think we started to touch on that last year. We began incorporating the children in everything we did, not just in events. That included our monthly meetings (which each month we gave one club 15 minutes to share their learning or accomplishments) and in our monthly newsletter (where we filled 75% of the pages with student work). The where? Many places, but the one parents visit most often in the course of a year, is the lobby. As a new family, it is the first place you go…and it is the one location you will return to time and time again throughout your child’s school years. Why not use it for more than a waiting room?

So often parents are asked to come to the school…and then sit idle off to the side; doing (and sometimes learning) nothing new. If we want parents to take a proactive role and be engaged, we should encourage them to touch, explore and learn anytime they are there. In thinking how our group can encourage this, I began to think about what engages my children in learning? What are the characteristics of places such as museums that attract us to learning and exploring….not just once, but to return for more? Which of those traits could be used in a school setting to engage parents? (Keeping in mind we don’t have the same budget a museum has.)

A warm welcome, both with signage and people. (This part is a given…but feel if I leave it out, it would be odd.) For schools such as ours with multiple languages spoken, sign(s) with welcome in various languages greeting you when you walk in. As far as the people…I’m not a fan of enclosing the office staff, but I also understand the need/wish for security. For me, I’m OK with the walls and windows as long as the staff is friendly, attentive and accessible to all families.

Interactive and hands-on. (This is the part I think we are missing) Museums encourage learning not through lots of comfy chairs/sofas and papers, but through bold statements of color and structure and interactive stations, clearly designated for a particular task. The “tools” are not neatly put away – but out and ready for use or viewing.

What could we add to our school lobbies?

  • Student work: not just art work on display but samples of writing, projects/experiments and use of technology. Hearing about it or seeing pictures is nice – but sometimes nothing beats the real thing.
  • TV Monitor: showing photos of the students in action learning, struggling, having fun and being good citizens; live stream of assemblies or class activities; scrolling news bits pertinent to that week.
  • Computer stations: Clearly marked and pages/tabs set up for specific tasks to eliminate the non-tech savvy individuals fear of navigating and saving time for those only there for a few minutes (since there isn’t necessarily someone there to walk them through).
    • School specific
      • Main Website
      • Library
      • Cafeteria
      • Blogs/Social Media
      • Access to online forms
    • Education
      • Websites
      • Apps
      • Curriculum guides
      • Tutorials on using various technology
      • And maybe one with a slide show/running video of student tech related projects
    • Community
      • Pages set up for the local library, social services, tutoring, places offering scholarships, sports, parks, and museums, (not for profit places)
  • Hard copy Resource Center: items families can take with them to read/do at home. This shouldn’t be tucked in a corner – but in a visible and easily accessible location.
  • Books: Well not just books, but all kinds of reading material. Newspapers and various local cultural publications. Again, tucked away on a book shelf doesn’t invite one to pick it up and read/browse. These need to be on display and at their fingertips, asking to be picked up, paged through and read.

Give parents a warm welcome, open door and opportunities to expand their knowledge to better help their children succeed and I think they will participate any available chance. The above tools can spark conversations not only between parent and child, but also between parents and between parents and the school; propelling new ideas. The school should be a learning center for not only children – but everyone in the community.

lobby computer stationsResources &  Displaystudent work


Engaging Parents When Technology Doesn’t Exist

no service

How do families and schools stay connected when technology, as basic as cell phones, doesn’t exist? This past week I spent a week staying in Hartwick, NY. A small town next to Cooperstown with NO cellular service while my oldest child stayed nearby with his baseball team (fully “connected”). When we first arrived I simply found it inconvenient. As the days passed, and I could only talk to my son via a corded land line phone, I began to really wonder how they do it in this town…that is after I questioned how a place not in the middle of nowhere, could have no cellular service and my youngest complained about the phone being broken because it sounded like a bee was buzzing on it. One of the many things I love about our elementary school is how we don’t just use one tool to communicate. We share information through paper, face-to-face, email, website and social media. We have many options as to how we reach our families…no matter how busy they are.

If we were to live in a location without access to the most basic technology, how could we keep everyone in the loop and on the same page? How do those families who don’t have that time to go to the school, get their information? Or aren’t they? I don’t believe their children are any better about bringing home all the papers from school, or that their parents are any better about remembering all of the fundraisers, activities and events; so there needs to be another way to share information and ideas.

In my short stay, I can say I witnessed conversations about school, politics and local news happening on a Saturday at the local farmers market, at the local restaurant during breakfast and dinner (where at the times we were there, we were the only non-local “guests”), and as they strolled down the street in the evening. These face-to-face conversations are crucial, and as a PTO or school, although always important, are even more so.

Taking their monthly meetings “on the road”; varying the times, days and locations so that all families have a chance to catch up on what is happening could be effective at that restaurant, or the farmers market…or even at the little local library on the Friday evening when they’re open, in reaching those not able to get to the school. Instead of reaching them where they are on their mobile devices – you reach them where they are physically.

Any thoughts on other ways? I wish I had more free time while I was there. I would love to have chatted with the local parents; learn more about what they do.


Family Engagement in Middle School

middleschool

 

In the next few weeks, my oldest is finishing up his elementary school experience and moving on to middle school. Having been in the same school for 7 years, we have had plenty of time to build relationships with his teachers. Ones where I feel comfortable that any one of us can address a concern before it becomes an issue. I also had 7 years to become progressively more involved in not just my son’s class – but the school in general. In September, when he starts middle school, I anticipate my involvement will be different.

Last week, we hosted our final monthly home & school association meeting at the middle school and invited a group of our elementary alumni currently attending the middle school to sit on a panel and share their middle school experiences. We also invited the middle school home & school association’s president. The topic came up about parent involvement; we had the H&S president say they still have many similar fundraisers and volunteer opportunities as the elementary schools that need parent participation. While the home and school association was crying out for parent help, several of the students chimed in about how they were OK with their parents volunteering at the book fair or during picture day, but they didn’t want their parents chaperoning events such as the dances.

I have no idea what my role is going to be, come September. I know I cannot jump in with both feet given that I will still be in the president’s role at the elementary school and several other larger commitments – but I know that not being actively involved is simply not an option. That meeting left me wondering; how do you go about getting parents to participate? I can only imagine that by 7th grade many of the parents comfortable with diving into the parent association roles their first year are possibly burned out, and those who aren’t, may need a year or two to warm up to the idea (and at that point they are on their way out and getting ready for high school).

My opinion…

Although being personable, welcoming and putting family engagement efforts at the top of the priority list are important for all schools; I think these are crucial in settings where your families are only there for a few years. You don’t have the time to let the parents “warm up” to the idea of getting involved.

I understand these roles are volunteers, and everyone has busy family lives, but these boards/associations need to build relationships with the elementary school families BEFORE their children start middle school. A rep from the MS should attend a handful of the elementary monthly meetings and the elementary school should have a spot at the MS meetings.

I know fundraising is necessary to fill the gap between what the schools can provide and what we wish for our children to have at school – but I don’t ever believe that should be the parent association’s primary role. I would rather see one large fundraising event for the year, and all other volunteer efforts focused on supporting education. Parents don’t want to sit through a meeting with a dozen parents they either don’t really know or care to spend their limited free moments with – but they are interested in sitting to learn about topics such as tips for paying for college, how to use the technology their children are using or effective ways to communicate with their children, and seeing their children demonstrate what they have learned and worked so hard on.

Let’s provide parents with the tools and resources to better support their children’s education. Family engagement is what has been proven to provide our children with a better education. Family engagement doesn’t have to cost a dime.

Are you a middle school parent? How are you involved? What tips do you have for others? I will share how I am involved (or not involved) going forward.

image credit: baldwinpta.org


Reflections of a PTA President

Rainbow

Image Credit – http://office.microsoft.com

As this year comes to an end, so does my PTA presidency. It is definitely bittersweet. It seems the perfect time to look back at the experience and carefully examine the ups and downs of the position.

As a new president, I came to the job optimistic and energized, ready to get to work. I walked in with certain beliefs of how things should be done, and the time commitment I had made. Little did I know that you can never fully be prepared for what is coming around the corner.

I have never been as proud of my school as I am today. Our efforts have been incredible in so many ways. We were recognized as a National Blue Ribbon school. We donated almost $10,000 to our adopted school, Hegarty Elementary, which was destroyed in Hurricane Sandy. At the same time, we were able to provide financial support to our staff family that suffered in the storm. We had amazing programs including Caldecott winning author visits for our students. We had wonderful events for our families like Fall Festival and Picnic around the World. We were present in school board budget meetings and fought for important expenditures in our school. We were also involved in an effort to have our Board of Education write a resolution against high stakes testing. We educated parents on new academic programs in the district. It’s truly been a remarkable time to be PTA leadership.

The relationships formed will definitely be one of the most positive parts of my experience. I was able to really get to know my principal (@cantiague_lead) and contribute to the magic that happens every day at Cantiague. His leadership and passion inspired me to give a little more, push myself to learn and share. The teachers I worked with reinforced everything I believed about the staff. They are so dedicated and true experts in what they do. Their dedication to our children made it impossible not to give 100% in making Cantiague the best place it can be.

The families of Cantiague are the real treasure. The generosity, spirit, and commitment to providing the best environment for learning and growing is what makes our school what it is. Cantiague is a very special corner of the world where children come first….always.

I will always be grateful to the PTA presidents who came before me and the ones who will follow. To borrow a cliché, it is a true labor of love. The amount of work is unimaginable, but the payout is the same. It is my greatest hope that our incoming presidents will experience the same joy and sense of accomplishment I have gained. If you put your whole self in it, you will learn so much. Not just about the school, district, or education, but about yourself. The job isn’t for everyone, but for those up for the challenge it is so worth it.

I look forward to my new position of Past President come June 11. I know the relationships I have made will only get stronger and better. I also know that our incoming presidents will do a wonderful job and make this PTA their own. I can’t wait to see the new direction we go.


SheilaSpeaking

A space for thinking, reflecting and sharing about education -- and the odd other thing...

Ingvi Hrannar

Icelandic educator, iPad 1:1 classroom, speaker & entrepreneur.

Penn-Finn Learnings 2013

Sharing our inquiries - March 23-30

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