Now is the time when we begin to lose our enthusiasm for helping as the holidays approach and sicknesses increase. However, the needs at school do not diminish. It is more important than ever to take the time to acknowledge your volunteers. Thank them personally, face-to-face, email, or best of all, a hand-written note. Letting them know that the event could not have taken place without their help makes them feel worthwhile; that the time they could have used to do chores at home or run needed errands, was not wasted.
Be sure that when you are scheduling your volunteers that you are careful to include how much time they will need to give to the project. If you don’t know, say so up front. Be flexible with your schedule. If no one can help for three hours, maybe three people can help for an hour each.
Be fun. Even the tedious events the adults don’t like can be fun if you laugh. There have been events where people came and hung out or stayed past their shift because there was a great conversation going on.
Keep a smile and a positive attitude and you will keep your volunteers.
by Cari Manry, ACPTA Vice President
How are we doing?
Considering the scope of work involved, Washington is holding steady. But implementing new policies remains a challenge – chiefly because funding has not been addressed.
· Progress is slow on changes to basic education, with some delays due to budget cuts and others due to lack of consensus around new reforms. (Disagreements over hiring, layoffs and compensation.)
· Progress is steady on educator-led overhaul of evaluations and ways to improve teaching and learning.
· Initial work is underway to turn around some of our lowest-performing schools. Early reports from the Merit schools have been inspiring (incredibly engaged staff) but we haven’t seen data yet.
· In general, there are more supports for family engagement written into state law. And for the first time statewide, educators will be evaluated on their ability to communicate with parents and community. How that will be measured remains uncertain.
Following is a round-up and update of our association’s top priorities. We will keep these through the 2012 session, with possible adjustments at our Legislative Assembly this October.
No. 1 Expanding and funding basic education
No. 2 Math and Science Education
No. 3 Literacy screening and instruction
No. 4 Teacher Reduction in Force
No. 5 Fund Education First
No 6 New Model for Teacher Compensation
For more information see FOCUS ON SCHOOLS: 2011 LEGISLATIVE SESSION
-- Ron Scofield, ACPTA Advocacy Co-Chair
With special thanks to Ramona Hattendorf, WSPTA GOvernment Relations
The whole PTA organization (from National to Washington State, to here in Auburn) supports diversity and encourages a spirit of Inclusion and Involvement for all units. Take a moment to consider if unit is fully representing all of the children and families of your school: new families, working moms, single parents, bilingual or ESL families, dads... There are many ways a unit can start introducing Outreach ideas and growing your unit to include the rich diversity from your community.
First look at your unit's strengths. (For example, strong core of volunteers, parents dedicated to educational goals, involved teachers). Then decide where the needs of your unit may be. For example, you could set a goal of increasing the number of dads who participate, or improve your unit's communication with bilingual families, or perhaps reach out to working families. Take a look at the demographics of your school as well. Your principal and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction is a great resource for this.
Use all this information to determine your school greatest need. Look around and start making connections with people in your school who can help achieve your goals! As a PTA unit, you can make a goal of one targeted group per year. That way the focus is on one group, and they can receive the focus and training that is needed to be successful within the core group. And your unit can feel successful as well.
Another way you can gather some great information is to conduct a members survey. Surveys are a great way to see what the needs of your members are. Keep them short, offer translated versions, avoid asking leading questions, you can even use multiple choice. Consider testing the questions on a small group such as your Board of Directors o make sure the survey makes sense. Combine your results and take action!
The best leaders welcome the rich diversity in language, culture, and family structure in our changing student populations. These leaders are bold, and adhere to a powerful vision, with a clear focus on results. Leaders look beyond the barriers and see opportunities. Have fun reaching out to your amazing community!
--Amy Kulp, Council Outreach Chair
Why join the PTA?
The PTA is a conglomeration of parents, teachers, students and others who work together to make our school a better place for our children to learn and achieve more. This occurs as we meet together, study problems, support teachers, volunteer in schools, attend workshops on parenting and become informed on issues related to our children.
Why should one get involved?
Your child needs you – Studies show that students perform better when their parents are involved in their education. Joining PTA is an easy way to become engaged in your child’s education.
PTA brings resources to parents to help their children in the education process. As a PTA member, one is more likely to be an informed, involved parent. Members get to know teachers better, become more familiar with our school and what happens here.
Your voice – Our PTA's teams up with the Auburn School District and the Washington State PTA to bring your opinions and concerns about educational issues to state and local elected officials. Your membership and participation helps them advocate to improve the health, welfare, and education of all children in the state of Washington.
Just Remember: A Member is any one who may have a vested interest in the education of our children! So get out there and figure out who that could be today!
--Erin Sterner, Council Membership Chair
The key to a strong PTA is making sure people feel included. Even if they can only attend the general membership meetings they need to feel like they are contributing. The person who shyly wanders into the meeting and sits in the back can become a chairperson with the right kind of encouragement.
Greet every person who comes into the school with enthusiasm. When they say they don’t have time to be in the PTA, tell them that all they need to do is become a member – by doing that they are helping to send others to training and keeping their PTA strong.
Once a person feels welcomed, they will be more willing to help.
-Cari Manry, Vice President
Whether you are a seasoned leader, or a brand new team, there are a few things you can focus on to get a great start to your year.
Update Your Website: parents want to know who you are and what is going on! We recommend that you have at least two things on your website. With very little effort, you parents will feel involved.
Make a Plan: September is a great and exciting time in the PTA calendar! A little bit of preparation will go a long way in setting expectations.
Get Involved in Council: We are here to help! Just like your team works better when chairs and members participate, so does Council. Come to the meetings on the second Tuesday of every month.
-- Michelle Baker, President
Council Leaders will be writing articles relating to their committee or favorite interest. You are encouraged to respond! Ask questions, add your experiences, contribute to the conversation. We are all in this together!