Seven Fun Things to Do for Dr. Seuss’s Birthday!

There is nothing better than kicking off National Reading Month with a birthday celebration in honor of our favorite childhood author. Born March 2, 1904, Dr. Seuss published more than 40 books to stories such as The Cat in the Hat, Horton Hears a Who! and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Readers and green eggs & ham lovers alike will come together to read-aloud his books, host a crafting party or even make his infamous gooey oobleck. Check out these fun school activities to do for his birthday (or during the week) with fun snacks, art projects and more on National PTA’s Pinterest.

Decorate your classroom door.


Enjoy a decadent plate of green eggs and ham.


If not, there’s a variety of other treats to eat.


Create cool bookmarks…with a Tufted Mazurka of course!


A fun experiment to try out.


Lots of rhyming to do.


Watch a Dr. Seuss movie.


As Dr. Seuss always said, “Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.”

Catherine Llamido is digital communications specialist at National PTA.

Photo Credit: Pinterest


Safeguard Your Home Against a Silent Killer – Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon MonoxideCarbon Monoxide (CO) is known as the silent killer because it is a colorless, odorless gas and often people don’t realize they are being poisoned.  Take the time to have all of your heating appliances checked this winter by a trained service technician for any leaks, blockages or complications that could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.  A faulty furnace, blocked chimney, fuel-burning heater or portable generator exhaust can result in carbon monoxide poisoning.

Take the following precautions to potentially protect your loved ones from harm:

  • Install a carbon monoxide detector outside the bedroom area on each level of your home. Be sure your alarms have a battery backup.
  • Carbon monoxide weighs the same as air so detectors should be installed in the middle of the wall or in an area with good circulation.
  • Change the batteries annually.
  • Carbon monoxide detectors lose their sensitivity generally after five years. Check the back of your detector for the manufacture date to learn when to replace your detector.
  • Be aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning such as dizziness, headache, nausea, fatigue and irregular breathing. Remember that oftentimes people have no symptoms.
  • Never use a portable generator inside your home, garage, shed, or similar area. Carbon monoxide can build up within minutes when a generator is used in a confined or partially enclosed space.
  • Check the exhaust pipe on your vehicle to be sure it is free from snow. Snowdrifts can also obstruct the exhaust on your vehicle. If your exhaust pipe is blocked, carbon monoxide can enter your vehicle.
  • Never use an oven or gas range for heating.
  • If you feel you have a CO leak or have any concerns about possible CO poisoning, go outside immediately, and then call 911.

Help spread the word about carbon monoxide poisoning.  Let others know about the signs of CO poisoning, symptoms and how to prevent it!  The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is sponsoring a nationwide carbon monoxide safety poster contest for middle school students to help warn people about the dangers of CO. Create a poster about the dangers of carbon monoxide.  Your child can save lives and win money at the same time. For more information about this program and for additional safety programs, safety alerts and recalls go to  Pass it on and save a life!

Jamie Schaefer-Wilson is the Executive Director of The Safety Institute.

How to Engage All Families

Last year a National Center for Education Statistics report projected public schools in the United States would become majority-minority. This is a significant statistic for an association whose overall purpose is to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children.

As the former outreach director for Washington State PTA, I was a member of a board that received the Jan Harp Domene Diversity and Inclusion Award. Now, as the Founder and CEO of Diverse Community Connectors, LLC, I teach organizations how to engage diverse communities. An essential component of this work is introducing Washington State’s passionate diversity engagement leaders and sharing their inspiring work.



The purpose of this blog is to encourage you to celebrate diversity by:

  • Introducing you to engagement leaders and their work
  • Acquainting you with a useful 7-step process
  • Inspiring you to apply for the JHD Diversity and Inclusion Award

Why? I believe you will significantly increase your chances of accomplishing your PTA’s ultimate mission.


Simply click on the links below and you will be motivated as you read about:


If you are facing a situation in which you need to engage diverse families, this 7-Step process can help.

  1. Assess the situation using data
  2. Determine who you’d like to engage
  3. Partner with all like-minded stakeholders
  4. Create a plan of engagement with stakeholders
  5. Engage – follow your plan
  6. Evaluate your results
  7. Improve and repeat


Remember, there is no magic bullet for engaging all families. It takes dedication and time. It is so worth it! Apply for the Jan Harp Domene Diversity and Inclusion Award and feel free to contact me. I’d love to celebrate and share your how-to model. Cheers!

JMarieJMarie is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, former school district administrator, social entrepreneur, and PTA mom. Her passion is to teach organizations to engage diverse communities so they both experience success.

Wake County “Smart from the Start” Coalition Empowers Kids to Live Healthy

SFTS_1For over 15 years, our nation has found itself in the midst of an obesity epidemic. Educating children about healthy lifestyle choices has become increasingly important as the media projects conflicting messages about body image and health. In a sea of misinformation, one may wonder, “Where can families get reliable health education?” Parents and schools have a vital role to play in the distribution of credible and targeted health education. Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina, is situated in the heart of Wake County. The Wake County PTA Council received a grant from the National PTA through Together Counts to educate families and teachers about engaging our youngest citizens in healthy eating and physical activity behaviors. The “Smart from the Start” Community Outreach Grant is aimed at empowering Pre-K children to live healthy lives from the very beginning.

SFTS_3Wake County PTA Council is partnering with the Alice Aycock Poe Center for Health Education to ensure that all of the grant requirements are met with maximum impact. A coalition of local stakeholders has been assembled to raise awareness about the importance of energy balance and to assess nutritional food availability and physical activity options around the four involved preschools. The coalition consists of the Poe Center, Telamon Head Start, Marbles Kids Museum, Motheread, Knightdale Parks and Recreation, Wake Early College HOSA, and Wake County PTA Council.

SFTS_2Family events are organized at three Head Start programs and one preschool within Wake County to discuss the topic of energy balance. The Energy Balance Pre-K Program is designed to facilitate teachers in showing students the steps to make healthy choices about food and activity. Poe Center Health Educators present activities from the curriculum at the family events. Participants engage in family-focused physical activities and then learn about healthy energy input and the MyPlate. Resources for educators are available at

The preschools which have held family events are eligible for free nutrition and physical activity health education because the Poe Center is a SNAP-Ed implementing agency in North Carolina. Following the family events, health educators teach students a series of eight lessons including compiled activities from the Energy Balance Pre-K curriculum. To end the grant cycle with a bang, families from the preschool events, surrounding elementary schools, and PTA members will be invited to attend an event at Marbles Kids Museum on March 8, 2015. The Poe Center will lead energy balance activities within the museum including physical activity games and healthy cooking demos (food provided by Relay Foods). During the event, Wake County PTA Council leaders will have an opportunity to connect with preschool families and attend a workshop on incorporating energy balance into education.

National PTA members can assist in these efforts by providing resources to teachers and families about health education. Also, do not underestimate the power of combined efforts and resource-sharing with local stakeholders. It is amazing to see the work that the Wake County “Smart from the Start” Coalition has already accomplished together thus far!

Maggie Perkins is a Poe Center Senior Nutrition Health Educator.


The Art of Speaking Up for Every Child

Co-authored by Ethan Clark.

Roses are red. Violets are blue. Students love art and you should too! How would you express your feelings about arts education in your school community? Take a moment and write your thoughts on why the arts are important for your child’s education. Bonus points if it rhymes!

Does your poem resonate with the following key facts about arts in education?

  1. Participation in the arts through programs like PTA’s Reflections develops the whole child. Through movement, social interactions, emotional expression and application of skill, arts education provides an academic advantage to students. The arts provide safe learning environments where students take risks, explore ideas, express their individuality and support their peers in a positive way. Studies also find that students are more engaged and teachers are more effective in arts-rich schools.
  2. PTA’s Reflections program can level the playing field for underserved students. Studies find that students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, English language learners, and students with special needs—often underserved in public schools—show the greatest relative improvement in academic achievement when participating in arts programs such as PTA Reflections.
  3. Participation in the arts connects families and schools to one another and to their communities. Research shows a significant relationship between arts education, family engagement, and community participation. Students who study the arts develop a sense of personal responsibility toward their communities and have the ability to positively affect the community social life through their artwork. Insert a sentence about the way Reflections accomplishes that.

That Kind of TeacherIt’s important to let your school leaders know how you feel about arts in education! Share your perspective with school leaders so that they understand why you feel your child needs opportunity for arts learning.

For an inspirational look at education through the eyes of a child, take a look at That Kind of Teacher, a national award winning poem by Reflections participant Jared Weiss of New Jersey.

Sharing your views with school leaders is the heart of Speaking Up for Every Child, the fourth of the six National Standards for Family School Partnerships. Families should feel empowered to be advocates for their own and other children, to ensure that students are treated fairly and have access to learning opportunities that will support their success.

Consider advocating for state or local policies to support arts in education. It takes a variety of policies across many areas of education to ensure a high quality learning experience, such as:

  • Arts as a core academic subject
  • Resources for early childhood learning in the arts
  • Learning and teaching standards
  • Time, space, and resources for elementary, middle and high school arts programs
  • Schools offer opportunities to participate in the arts during and after school
  • Students are graded on content knowledge and skills they’ve learned in art programs

Visit ArtScan by Arts Education Partnership to learn more about your state’s policies supporting arts education. And check out the Arts Education Field Guide by Americans for the Arts to expand your arts in education network.

The arts — and the National PTA Reflections® program, in particular — can be a valuable tool for building stronger partnerships in your school community and meeting the standard for speaking up for every child. When families come together at Reflections events, they have the opportunity to dialogue about the value of art education and how to work together to advocate for more.

Read more to learn about each of the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships and the steps you can take with PTA Reflections to meet them. Also, consider enrolling in the National PTA School of Excellence program to gain new ways to engage all families in each of the standards. National PTA School of Excellence is a recognition program that supports and celebrates partnerships between PTAs and schools to enrich the educational experience and overall well-being for all students. Contact or call (800)307-4782 for more info.

Fourth in a series of blog posts co-authored by National PTA’s Senior Manager of Family Engagement Sherri Wilson & Manager of Arts in Education Ethan Clark.

Best Practices for Effective Presentations – Part 2: Tips for Delivering Engaging Presentations

PresenterOn the day of your presentation, a lot can go through your mind. “Did I include too much data?” “Are my objectives clearly stated?” “Should I have added more visuals?”

While sufficient preparation can certainly help ease anxiety, don’t let the presentation content be your only focus. Even if you know your content inside and out, the way in which you deliver it can have an impact on how it’s perceived by your audience.

In Part 1 of this series, we covered the do’s and don’ts of preparing for face-to-face presentations. In this article, we will discuss various ways you can ensure your audience stays engaged during your presentation. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

1. Know your audience
Before you presentation starts, walk around and talk to those who are arriving early to determine their experience and knowledge related to the presentation topic. Also, build in some time at the start of your presentation to survey participants through a quick show of hands. This will help you tailor the delivery of your presentation to meet your audience’s needs.

2. Don’t use slides as your script
Even though this should go without saying, there are many presenters who feel it’s necessary to read directly from the slides. Doing so not only causes presenters to turn their backs on their audience but it also shows little respect for your audience’s reading skills. A much better approach is to use bullet points as prompts and then paraphrase the text. This allows you to place more emphasis on your message instead of the slide while maintaining valuable eye contact with your audience.

3. Move around
Being still is important, especially during key points of your presentation. However, frequent movement not only helps you relax but it makes you look more confident. Moving around also helps keep the audience engaged by adding energy to your presentation. Just make sure to walk slowly and not pace.

4. Use an expressive voice
Adding expression to one’s voice is one of the most effective techniques for engaging an audience. To accomplish this, speak in a conversational tone and emphasize special words or phrases by adjusting your pitch and volume. To make this feel and sound natural, practice using variations in your voice while rehearsing the content. Also, don’t underestimate the power of pauses. When used intermittently, pauses provide opportunities for your audience to absorb and reflect on critical pieces of information.

5.  Redirect your audience’s attention
Research has shown that the average adult is unable to sustain the same level of attention for longer than 20 minutes. This means that your audience will begin to lose focus early on in your presentation before attempting to refocus at various intervals of time. One way to address this is by changing the direction of your presentation in a way that will allow participants’ brains to shift gears.

Here are some simple ways to help your audience refocus:

  • Ask questions to gauge comprehension
  • Provide discussion opportunities
  • Provide practice opportunities
  • Incorporate images or short videos that reinforce concepts
  • Tell a story to illustrate your points

Keep these great tips in mind and you’ll knock your next presentation out of the park. As we move on to Part 3 of this series, you will learn about free tools that are available for conducting webinars to a live audience.

Check out the entire series on Best Practices for Effective Presentations: Part 1, Part 3, and Part 4.

13 Ways a PTA Can Help a Student with Special Needs

FriendshipCircle1Reposted from Friendship Circle Blog.

What exactly does the PTA do?

The PTA does whatever the school needs to be done. Some PTA activities do not cost anything except volunteer hours, for example, providing volunteers to help students check out library books, or to help the office staff check in late students and deliver lost lunchboxes in the morning.

Most PTA activities require funding, especially academic enrichment and extracurricular support. For these efforts, the PTA raises funds through carnivals, silent auctions, book fairs, membership drives, corporate sponsorship, grants from private foundations and other creative methods.

How do students with special needs fit in with the PTA’s goals?

Some parents of students with special needs are resentful of their local PTAs because they feel that their children are excluded from school activities. Some special education classes don’t visit the library or the book fair at all. The school carnival may be too noisy and chaotic for certain students. Special education teachers may feel discouraged from applying for a PTA classroom mini-grant, because it will only benefit a few students.  Some PTA meetings may seem to be controlled by a small clique that wants nothing to do with special education students.

The truth is that the PTA is comprised of its members, and at most schools, one person really can make a difference.

For a few years, I couldn’t attend any of the PTA’s evening meetings due to sleep issues at home, and my fussy baby prevented me from volunteering for most activities.  s my little one grew bigger, I was able to attend a few meetings and help with a few initiatives. Then I began to see the potential benefit of the PTA for my older son, who is a special education student. This year I am serving as the PTA president at my older son’s middle school.

If you think the PTA can’t or won’t help your special education student, you are wrong! These are some of the programs that the PTA has sponsored at schools across the USA. All that’s missing is the right volunteer for the job, and that would be you.

1. Parent to Parent Support

When my son had his first IEP, I was asked if I wanted to be contacted by a member of the school’s Parent to Parent Support Team. Parents with years of IEP experience call parents who are new to the system, and answer their questions. This program does not cost anything, and it creates a sense of community for new parents who may be feeling isolated.

2. Buddy Bench

Recess is one of the most difficult periods of the day for students with special needs. Elementary students came up with the idea of a Buddy Bench, where anyone who needs a friend can go and feel welcome.

3. Modified events

A school carnival does not have to be noisy and chaotic. Activities can be modified to be more accessible to students sensitive to noise, and physical barriers can be reduced…but usually someone has to speak up and request the modifications. At my son’s middle school, we distribute maps of carnival activities to each family, and we spread the attractions across the school so that there are some quiet areas and other areas for sensory integration activities.

4. Awareness Days

Right now, the PTA board at my son’s school is working on an autism awareness event for World Autism Awareness Day, because of the significant number of students with autism at the school. All students will be encouraged to wear shirts with the school logo on April 2, and each grade level will earn “spirit points” for wearing the school logo. The grade with the most spirit points will receive special privileges from the principal during recess. In addition, we will have penny wars between the classes, and the money raised will be used to purchase materials to build a therapy item for students with autism, such as a squeeze chair or Buddy Walker.

5. Tutoring

The PTA often recruits volunteers to work as tutors after school or to assist with reading and math drills during school hours. At my son’s school, the PTA pays a stipend to teachers who help with homework after school three days per week.

6. Reflections Art Contest
Every autumn, the PTA sponsors the nationwide Reflections art competition for K-12 students in the fields of literature, dance, music composition, film, photography and visual arts.


Students with disabilities may enter the contest at their grade level or in the Special Artist category. Two of my son’s photographs recently won at the local level this year and have advanced to the state competition.

7. Teacher grants

Most PTAs offer classroom mini-grants, and special education teachers are welcome to apply. Sensory integration items such as a ball chair, swing or sand table are popular requests.

8. Outside grants

Last year I found a local grant opportunity, and applied for it on behalf of my son’s school social worker, who facilitates a large peer-to-peer support program. The grant was awarded to her – an extra $1,000 that she was not expecting in her budget! Because the PTA is a registered non-profit, its board members are eligible to apply for grants from most foundations.

9. Special Education Committee

Yes, the PTA is famous for committees and subcommittees.  Some schools such as Clover Hill Elementary in Virginia have a special education committee that raises its own funds to provide community and support to the families of special education students.

10. Special Education PTA

A school district may choose to form a Special Education Parent Teacher Association (SEPTA) for the purpose of advocating for families of students in special education. A SEPTA has a budget and mission that is separate from other local PTA units, so it’s in a position to benefit special education students directly and exclusively. Talk to your local PTA Council about creating a SEPTA if you think this would be a good match for your school district.

11. List of national resources

The National PTA offers a free special education toolkit that features a list of national organizations that advocate for students in special education. The toolkit also suggests ideas for including families of special education students in more school activities.

12. Connect for Respect

The National PTA has developed an anti-bullying initiative, Connect for Respect, that is designed to be adaptable for students of all abilities. The program is student-led and is intended as a creative team effort.

13. Healthy Lifestyles

The National PTA’s Healthy Lifestyles program promotes nutrition, exercise and energy balance. American children are increasingly at risk for obesity and inactivity, and the risk is even higher for students in special education. The National PTA has coordinated best practices for student health and made recommendations through the program material.

The National PTA’s motto is, “Every Child. One Voice.” That includes your child and your voice. If you think the PTA should be doing something that is not described here, go to a meeting and advocate for your student. That’s how every one of these ideas got started!

Karen Wang is a contributing author to the anthology “My Baby Rides the Short Bus: The Unabashedly Human Experience of Raising Kids With Disabilities”

7 Steps to Good Digital Parenting

7StepstoDigital ParentingReposted from the Family Online Safety Institute.

I’m often told how hard it is to parent in this digital age.

So many decisions about devices, software, apps and games have to be made and at increasingly younger ages.  Amazon and others have created tablets for pre-school kids.  Parents are buying smart phones for kindergartners.  And there’s a potty training app complete with stand for your iPad.

All of this before they’ve reached elementary and middle school years.  Then it’s Minecraft, Moshi Monsters and Club Penguin.  Texting takes off, particularly among the girls and new issues arise around photo and video sharing.

And just when you’ve mastered all that, the teen years come along with the onslaught of social media sites from Facebook to Instagram to Twitter, never mind anonymous apps like, Secret and YikYak.  Problematic issues arise that range from sexting and cyberbullying to identity theft and simply spending too much time online.

What’s a parent to do?

Well, I’ve tried to distill many years of work in this constantly changing space to seven simple, but still challenging steps to become a good digital parent.  It is definitely a journey, like parenting itself.  And there is no such thing as perfection.  Just good enough.

Here goes:

1.  Talk with your kids

It sounds simple, but the number one indicator of good digital parenting is keeping an open line of communication going with your kids.  Talk early and often.  It is not like the birds and the bees discussion.  It is more like an ongoing dialogue that will move and shift as your child works her way through several key developmental stages.  Stay calm.  Be open and direct.  But keep talking.

2.  Educate yourself

This is probably the first technology in human history where the kids are leading the adults.  It is very humbling to have a 7 year old explain how to upload a video.  Or your teen rolling his eyes once again as you try to master Pandora.  But there is a wealth of tips, videos, explanations and guides out there.  If in doubt, simply type in your question or concern in your favorite search engine and there will be more than enough information to go on.

3.  Use parental controls

It goes without saying that there is content on the Internet you don’t want your kids stumbling upon.  All of the major operating systems, search engines, cell phone providers and gaming platforms provide either free or inexpensive parental controls to help you manage your kids’ online experience.  And, as your kids get older, move from controls to monitoring tools, particularly around time limits to discourage texting in class or vamping late at night.

4.  Set ground rules & apply sanctions

Many parents don’t know where to start in creating rules of the road for their kids’ digital use.  But there are many online safety contracts to choose from as well as simple house rules such as no devices at dinner and handing in their phones at night.  Once you’ve set the rules, enforce them.  Let your kids know that they will lose online privileges if they break the rules and be clear and consistent about what those sanctions will be.

5.  Friend and follow, but don’t stalk

When your teen opens her Facebook account at 13, ensure you’re her first friend.  Follow your kids on Twitter and YouTube.  Don’t overdo it and leave daily comments, but don’t under do it either.  It’s good to stay close as your teen makes his first forays into the world of social media.  But don’t be tempted to spy on your kids, either.  Talking instead of stalking is what builds trust.  Give your teen some space to experiment, to take (healthy) risks and to build resiliency.

6.  Explore, share and celebrate

With the rules and tools in place, don’t forget to just go online with your kids.  Play games, watch videos, share photos and generally hang out with your children online.  Learn from them and have fun.   Share your favorite sites and download their apps.  See the world through their eyes.  And let them know your values and beliefs as you guide them on their way.

7.  Be a good digital role model

Be the change you want to see in your kids.  Resist the temptation to pull out your phone to check your email over dinner or send a quick text while driving.  Keep an eye on your own digital habits and compulsions and model good digital behavior and balance.  Your kids will pay far more attention to what you do, than to what you say – both online and offline.

Stephen Balkam is the Founder & CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute. For the past 30 years, Stephen Balkam has had a wide range of leadership roles in the nonprofit sector in the both the US and UK. He is currently the Founder and CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), an international, nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, DC. FOSI’s mission is to make the online world safer for kids and their families.

Lysol Helps Families Practice Healthy Habits During Cold and Flu Season

Lysol_HealthyHabitsLysol is a financial sponsor of National PTA, and has been invited to submit a blog post as part of their engagement with PTA. National PTA does not endorse any commercial entity, product, or service, and no endorsement is implied by this content.

Illness Prevention Begins at Home

Every day a child is absent, he or she misses out on valuable educational programs. Yet school environments often contribute to absenteeism through the spread of illness as students are in close contact all day, using the same door handles, school supplies and desks. That’s why the National PTA has teamed up with Lysol and the National Education Association (NEA) to spread the word on healthy habits, beginning at home.  The aim is to help educate students on the importance of consistent hand washing, sneeze and cough etiquette and more both at home and in the classroom, with the goal of reducing the 22 million school days that are missed each year.

Lysol believes that knowledge is the best weapon against germs. Here are some tips to help spread the word on good healthy habits, not germs.

  • Practice Proper Hand Washing: Hand washing with soap and water is one of the most effective ways to help prevent the spread of germs. To make sure that children practice hand washing for at least 20 seconds, the amount of time needed to kill and remove germs, encourage them to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice while rubbing their hands together and share this trick with their peers at school.
  • When the Time is Right: Children should wash hands frequently throughout the day, especially before a meal, after recess or gym and before any cooking activities. Children should also practice good hand washing habits after using the bathroom, coughing, sneezing or playing outside.
  • Bring it To School: Encouraging frequent and proper hand washing etiquette at home helps students bring these habits to the classroom and encourage their peers to adopt them as well. Parents can demonstrate healthy habits by frequently disinfecting germ “hot spots” in the home such as faucets, door handles, counter tops, remote controls and the toilet flusher to help avoid illness.

For more information on healthy habits at home and beyond, please visit:

Conor O’Brien is the Marketing Director at Lysol.

Advocate for Our Children at 2015 LegCon

sedwardsIt’s that time of year again!  This March 10-12, 2015  is National PTA’s Legislative Conference in Washington DC!

For more than two decades, I’ve looked forward to this meeting with excitement and great anticipation as we work to carry  out  the advocacy work of our association.  Advocacy is who we are and what we do as PTA.  I strongly believe that we must always keep this mission in focus: we are a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for the education and well-being of every child.  Having volunteered as a legislative chairperson at the local unit, council, district, state and national levels, I have seen first hand how much we can get done when we come together and leverage our human resources. The National PTA Legislative Conference is our premier opportunity  to advocate with one loud voice at the federal level.

The National PTA Legislative Conference brings together hundreds of PTA advocacy-minded members from all  states, territories and Department of Defense PTA units together in our nation’s capital and in the Halls of Congress to advocate on behalf of all children and youth.  I am grateful for the professional training we receive at the conference, and the comradery that is reinvigorated and solidified among our members. It is inspiring to see our advocacy awardees receive some well-deserved recognition for the work they have do on behalf of every child.  I always look forward to hearing from congressional leaders and federal department leaders who recognize the importance of PTA’s work. I am encouraged by the visible impact we make when meeting with our Senators and Representatives in Congress.

This year promises to be particularly exciting.  With a newly elected Congress, we have the opportunity to tell our stories,  to advocate on behalf our 2015 National PTA Public Policy Agenda, and to take part in the democratic process. I voted and helped to elect my Congressional leaders. During their campaigns, they assured me of their interest in the issues that I think are important.  Our members of Congress work for us, the constituents, and I look forward to ensuring that they know what I (and PTA) need from them!

I encourage you to make yourself be heard and attend this year’s Legislative Conference. Register early and encourage others to join you. I hope to see you this March!

Stella Edwards is a member of the National PTA Legislative Committee.

The 2015 National PTA Legislative Conference will take place March 10-12, 2015 in Arlington, VA at the Crystal Gateway Marriott. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear from informed policy speakers, participate in advocacy workshops, and advocate on behalf of PTA on Capitol Hill. For more information, visit