Snack Duty Made Simple

(Sponsored Post) Many school snacks of today would have been hard to imagine even just 10 years ago.

When I was growing up, most products available on campus were synonymous with indulgence. I vividly remember my mom helping with school fundraisers … I couldn’t wait for the bake sale!

A lot has changed since I was a kid.

Today, the items available to our children at school still taste delightful—but the products’ nutritional content has drastically improved for the better.

The Vegas Family enjoying post-snack time activities

This is all because we’ve raised the bar for foods and beverages sold to students on campus. Since 2014, the USDA’s Smart Snacks in School Standards have put in place nutrition guidelines for snacks and drinks sold in vending machines, school stores, snack carts, á la carte lines and in-school fundraising, as well as for products served at celebrations and events.

As a parent, I couldn’t be more thrilled. Knowing that my school is prioritizing the health and well-being of my kids is incredibly important to me, so when I need to bring in snacks for parties or fundraisers, I want to be sure that I’m supporting the efforts of my school. As a busy mom though, I don’t have the time (or the math know-how) to calculate percentages of sugar and sodium while zipping through the supermarket aisles or while frantically placing an online order in between baseball innings.

That’s why I worked with Amazon Business to create the Healthier Generation Store, which features hundreds of products that meet the Smart Snacks standards. So if you need to order 30 (or even 300!) snacks for that end-of-year school party, check it out. In the wise words of my six-year-old daughter, it’s “easy-peasy lemon squeezy”.

Set up your PTA’s free Amazon Business Account to access business-level pricing and easily shop for all your PTA needs. Tie your school’s Amazon Smile account to your business account to maximize your donations.

The product assortment is growing by the day, so leave me a note in the comment field about what products you’d like to see added to the store!

Register your PTA and shop for Smart Snacks today!


 

Elizabeth Vegas serves as the director of business sector strategies at the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. She’s a tired mom of two awesome kids who consistently waits until the last minute to get most things done.

5 Secrets to Finding the Perfect Balance as PTA Leader AND a Parent

(Sponsored Post) Let’s be honest. Parents are some of the busiest people on Earth. And when you add in a PTA leadership role, it can be tough to juggle responsibilities at home and at school. So how do you strike the right balance?

After working with thousands of PTA leaders, and helping them run over 10,000 successful fundraisers during the past 16 years, at Boosterthon we’ve learned a thing or two about serving in a parent organization. Here are five simple secrets to creating a healthy balance between being a parent and a PTA leader.

 1. Schedule and save

Leading the PTA requires a ton of planning and time-consuming work. One way to overcome this is by scheduling time for PTA-related work (just like you would for any other job). For example, try setting aside several hours one weekday for PTA meetings, projects or just getting organized. Knowing this time is blocked out on your calendar will allow you to be fully present in other areas of your life. And because you’re not worried about finding the time to get the work done, you’ll be far less likely to feel overwhelmed.

 2. Next, flex

Whether it’s a last-minute PTA project or a DIY project at home, we all know things don’t always go as planned. Having flex time built into your schedule can help you catch up. Find some open time in the week and protect it like you would an important meeting. That way you can use your scheduled flex time to catch up before heading into a busy weekend.

 3. Be realistic and communicate expectations

When working with others on a PTA project or event, you should first consider your schedule and how much “PTA time” you have available. Here’s a tip: Be realistic. Don’t try to do it all. Then communicate openly and clearly to ensure everyone understands the expectations on timing. Most people are working to establish the same type of balance in their lives, so others will understand if you have to say no.

 4. Don’t be afraid to ask for H-E-L-P

As a PTA leader, one of the most important parts of your job is building relationships with other parents. Many parents genuinely want to help out. Get to know the volunteers who sign up to help at events, and let them know how much you value them. Make note of parents who sign up regularly to volunteer, and ask if you can contact them directly with other volunteer needs.

Building relationships you can lean on is crucial in maintaining more balance in your life.

 5. Focus on your family

As PTA leaders, you spend a lot of time at various PTA events throughout the year, and many of them occur outside of school hours. Getting your kids involved gives them a sense of pride and allows you to spend time working together as a family to help your school. Who knows? Your kids might just love making posters for book fairs, greeting new students at the open house and helping with carnival set-up.

A Final Thought

Remember, no one gets the whole “being a parent” thing perfectly right. Give yourself grace as you seek to strike the right balance between parenting your kids and volunteering at your school. But remember, it’s because of committed parents like you that schools thrive. And to that we say this: Thank you.

Boosterthon is an elementary school fundraiser on a mission to change the world by helping schools raise more and stress less. With over 2,400 schools and 1.6 million students across America participating in our programs, we’re reinventing the way schools do fundraising. To learn more, visit Boosterthon.com

Explore digital learning over Spring Break

(Sponsored Post) As a busy working mom of 3 young children, I look forward to spring break. It’s a moment when time slows down and I’m able to disconnect from the daily scramble of balancing work and home life so I can focus on my family.

Spending the spring break with my children usually involves tons of crafts, a marathon game of Monopoly, and lots of time outside. Yet I also make time for learning, not only for myself — catching up on the latest research on education technology — but also to better understand how my children are using technology in their school.

Working in education technology means I pester my children with specific questions about what devices and apps they are using in their classroom, what they like and dislike, and what types of digital content they are creating. We have a Chromebook in my house, so I can also get a first-hand perspective of what they’re doing in school and learn alongside them.

All comes in one

Because Chromebooks are designed to be sharable and secure, my sons can log in with their individual school accounts and their work is not at risk of being touched by a sneaky sibling. Plus, it means I save money by purchasing one durable and affordable device that everyone can share — even me. Chromebooks also come with built-in virus production and automatic updates that keep our family information protected and secure, so I don’t have to worry about downloading security updates or purchasing additional antivirus software.

Let creativity bloom

Many of the activities we enjoy on the Chromebook together revolve around creativity, which is supported by our touch screen and stylus enabled Chromebook. We draw pictures using mobile apps like Squid (many Chromebooks can now run mobile apps from Google Play Store), create music using websites like Soundtrap, and make videos using tools like WeVideo. My oldest is a musician, so we explore tons of videos that demonstrate how to play guitar and piano chords. We also have heart-to-hearts about what it means to be a digital citizen.

We also play with Scratch, which is a friendly and visual programming language developed by MIT that exposes children to computer science in an engaging way. What’s fun about Scratch is that you don’t need to be a computer scientist in order to guide your child — you can learn right alongside them.

This spring break, ask your child how they are using technology in their school. If they say they’re using a Chromebook and you want to learn more, here’s some information to explore.

Here’s to a great rejuvenating spring break. May it be filled with family learning and fun!

Karen Greenleaf leads Chromebook learning initiatives at Google. She is a mother of 3 elementary school children and is involved in her school’s parent teacher steering committee.

Google has teamed up with the National PTA to create the Chromebooks for PTAs program. When your local PTA enrolls in the program, a percentage of your community Chromebook purchases will go to your local PTA.

 

Spring into the New Season with Healthy Habits

(Sponsored Post)

Cabin fever is not the only bug around this time of year! This winter has been one of the most severe flu seasons in recent years with The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention[1] reporting that flu season can run as late in the year as May. Across the country, families and school communities are dealing with the severity of this season and while it is unpredictable as to when it will end, there are prevention methods to help stay healthy.

With spring time approaching, it’s important to leave cold and flu behind in the winter months to fully enjoy the sunshine and warmer weather ahead. The National Parent Teacher Association teamed up with Lysol, as part of the Healthy Habits Program, to share easy and effective tips to help prevent germs from spreading as we go into the spring months:

  • Continue Using Healthy Habits: It’s important to remind your children to use healthy habits all year-round, not just during the winter! Reinforce the use of proper cough and sneeze etiquette to help prevent the spread of germs. Also be mindful to avoid being around sick people, and stay home if you are sick, to help stop the spread of germs. Another easy way to help stop the spread of germs is to disinfect frequently touched hard surfaces in the home with Lysol Disinfectant Spray. The flu virus can live on hard surfaces for up to 48 hours.  Lysol Disinfecting Spray kills over 100 illness causing germs, including the flu virus
  • Spring Cleaning: Lysol Disinfecting Wipes is tough on messes and germs. Adding Disinfecting Wipes to your spring cleaning routine will not only clean, but kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria including the cold and flu virus. Remember to disinfect commonly touched surfaces such as keyboards, doorknobs and tables. Lysol is a participant in the Box Tops for Education program, which helps support education and benefits America’s schools. By purchasing Lysol products, you can earn valuable points which can be converted into cash and donated to your child’s school to help provide needed items such as computers, playground equipment and more.
  • Wash Up: With more outdoor activities scheduled during the spring, remember to wash your hands with soap and warm water frequently for at least 20 seconds. For more information on how to help keep your family healthy this spring, visit Lysol.com.

[1] CDC.gov “Frequently Asked Flu Questions 2017-2018 Influenza Season”(February 21, 2018)

Rory Trait is the Marketing Director at Lysol.

What Do Successful Schools Look Like?

As a parent, I have a good idea of how my child’s school is working for her. I talk to her and her friends about what is going on there. I see the work that she is doing. I communicate with her teachers and other school staff.

But while I know that my daughter is at a school that’s good for her, it’s harder to figure out whether it’s a successful school overall. Is her school helping each of its students reach their fullest potential? What does such a school look like?

The Learning First Alliance, which includes organizations like National PTA and whose members collectively represent more than 10 million educators, parents and local policymakers, have pulled together to research and answer that question.

The result of that effort is “The Elements of Success: 10 Million Speak on Schools That Work,” an anthology that identifies six elements that are common to all successful schools. It also makes clear that there is no one model for a successful school—in each success story, educators, parents and local communities have developed programs specific to their goals and challenges, within their communities’ setting.

While all successful schools share the six elements, how they are implemented and integrated depends greatly on context. The elements are:

  • Focus on the Total Child: Successful schools support all students’ needs—inside and outside the classroom—to help them become effective, empowered learners. They design and carry out programs that offer all students a rich educational experience, supporting their academic and social/emotional learning and physical development.
  • Commitment to Equity and Access: Successful schools ensure all students have access to high-quality services and support systems, enabling them to set and reach high goals for learning. In them, equity does not mean equality; they recognize some students need additional resources to have the same opportunity for success as others. They also recognize diversity is a strength.
  • Family and Community Engagement: Successful schools effectively engage families and communities in support of students. In doing so, they identify barriers to such engagement and work to overcome them.
  • Distributed Leadership: Successful schools define leadership broadly. Leadership is distributed among principals, teachers, parents, community members and others in the building, and decision-making is a shared endeavor.
  • Strong, Supported Teaching Force and Staff: Successful schools are staffed with educators—including teachers, principals, school counselors, technology specialists and others—who are well-educated, well-prepared and well-supported. These educators meet high standards of practice, and they benefit from continuous learning opportunities.
  • Relationship-Oriented School Climate: Successful schools create a culture of collaboration and shared responsibility among staff and students and with families and communities. These schools are safe, welcoming and respectful to all.

These elements are all widely known. But two things make this collection of research unique. One is consensus. “The Elements of Success: 10 Million Speak on Schools That Work” does not reflect the expertise of one individual or one organization. It reflects the collective wisdom of all the various public-school interest groups—parents, teachers, administrators and more. Together, they agree these are the elements needed for a school to perform at a high level.

The second is the emphasis on interactions. A school with good teachers and poor leadership won’t be successful. Nor will a school with strong leadership and teachers that focuses solely on test scores. The interaction between all six of these elements is critical.

So how can parents and PTAs use this information? One idea is to use this research as a conversation starter. Bring parents, teachers, administrators and others in the school community together to honestly assess where you are in terms of each of these six elements. Identify your strengths and where additional support is needed. Then work together to make sure your school is meeting the needs of every child who attends.

The report and supporting materials are available at LearningFirst.org/ElementsOfSuccess.

Anne O’Brien is Deputy Director at the Learning First Alliance.   

It Takes a Village: Lessons on Developing the Whole Child

I know you’ve got a lot more on your plate than your next work deadline. You have to pick your kids up from swim practice; you are worried about that cough your dad had over the holidays; you are daydreaming about writing that novel. The same is true of your children—they also have more to worry about, and way more to contribute, than taking the next test.

As adults, we are able (most of the time) to strive for balance in our lives. But our children don’t have enough experience to be able to do that yet. In order for them to be successful, we have to be able to show them how to manage the stress that daily life brings.

That’s where social, emotional and academic development comes in. The Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional and Academic Development is spending two years talking to parents, teachers and students to explore how schools can develop the whole child. And on a site visit to Tacoma, Wash., last month, commissioners got some powerful answers.

I was there as a parent advisor to the Commission. Here are three strategies we saw in Tacoma that hold exciting potential for communities across the country:

  1. Leverage the Power of the Community

Schools have a pretty single-minded focus: educate our kids. But what leaders in Tacoma realized is that you don’t have to bend other organizations to your priorities in order to build a community effort around supporting students—you just have to let everyone play to their strengths.

Take Tacoma’s Science and Math Institute (SAMI) for example. This high school, set in the middle of Point Defiance Park, uses its working relationship with the city Parks Department to foster experiences that are truly hands on, and sometimes unexpected. My student tour guide at SAMI told me about a calculus test she recently took while seated by the aquarium’s shark tank. She said the dimness and serenity helped her focus. Students manage ongoing research projects, train to be docents at the zoo, and can work on internships that allow them to apply their learning in real-world settings.

  1. Listen to Students and Teachers

We all know teachers wear many hats. That’s why it’s critical to understand that focusing on students’ social, emotional and academic development doesn’t have to be burdensome. In fact, Tacoma teachers say the Whole Child Initiative has made them feel more supported and free to do their jobs. The initiative has slashed tardy arrivals and absences, boosted test scores and reduced discipline referrals across the district. During my visits to Tacoma’s public schools, I witnessed how teachers are valued as front-line experts and are given opportunities for leadership.

Tacoma also actively includes student voices. At each school I visited, it was clear that not only do students feel listened to, they feel empowered: empowered to resolve their own conflicts, to speak with authority and pride about their schools, and be active participants in shaping their schools’ cultures. For example, students at Jason Lee Middle School advise educators on improvements that can be made and are an active part of the rule-making process. The PTA motto of “every child, one voice” was truly on display in Tacoma.

  1. Don’t Be Afraid to Get Creative

Each child, classroom, school and district is different. What’s unique about your community? You may not have Point Defiance Park, but what about a creative partnership with that homeless shelter down the road?

Tacoma’s schools are flourishing under the Whole Child Initiative, but to replicate that success will mean stepping outside of our comfort zones of fall festivals and fun runs. It will mean focusing on how we, as parents and community members, can do that extra little bit to establish meaningful relationships with the world outside of the school walls.

Our children are complex. Let’s help make sure their educations develop all their potential.

Van Overton is the executive director of SpreadLoveABQ (an organization committed to developing creative fundraising solutions for child advocacy groups); the co-founder of Duke City Dream Lab (an organization that works to make the arts accessible to all children); a three-year member of the New Mexico PTA Board of Directors; and an active volunteer in Albuquerque schools. Van is a member of the National Commission’s Parent Advisory Panel.

5 Things You Should Know About March 2 Success

(Sponsored Post)

As parents, we make it a priority to ensure our children receive a quality education, post-secondary opportunities and career fulfillment.  But when it comes to taking the SAT, ACT or other standardized tests, we sometimes don’t know how to best help our kids prepare.  This is where March 2 Success comes in—a free online, interactive program created to enhance ACT and SAT as well as student performance.  From high school science, math and verbal skills to college readiness and planning tips, this online resource has the tools and information students need to succeed in the classroom and beyond.

Here are 5 important facts about March 2 Success

  1. Content is provided by industry leaders in standardized testing and college preparation.

Peterson’s, a leading provider of solutions for the education community for more than 40 years, developed the content for this easy-to-use, self-paced program.  Any student age 13 and older can participate, and there is no obligation.

  1. It’s a user-friendly program designed for convenience.

We know students’ schedules can be chaotic.  From sports and studying to family life, March 2 Success is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week, so students can log on any time that is convenient for them.

  1. It provides a complete guide to college financing and admissions.

We want to take the guesswork out of the college admission and financing process. March 2 Success includes a special emphasis on scholarships and supplies related web links.

In addition, the program’s Student Planning Guide provides a month-by-month plan of important steps involved in the entire college preparation process from freshman to senior year.

  1. Participants receive tailored lesson plans and study materials to help improve competency in the skills after an assessment.

The curriculum begins with a pre-assessment to determine each student’s knowledge and understanding of the subject matter. This includes standard English, math and science sections.

Every individual is unique, so we focus on the importance of individualized and strategic learning that concentrates on achievable goals.

  1. M2S has a video game to raise SAT/ACT scores called, “Zero Hour Threat.”

Zero Hour Threat, created by i.d.e.a.s. at Disney-MGM, is an interactive action game designed to increase standardized test scores, as well as enhance general mathematics and vocabulary skills while having fun studying and reviewing in a game format.  There are two versions of the game with different scenarios.

In addition to students, March 2 Success is a valuable tool for educators, parents and mentors.  One of the many features offered is the ability to monitor student progress, which is a great way to stay involved.

The U.S. Army is fully committed to strengthening the education resources for our Nation’s youth and this program is the first step.  To learn more about U. S. Army educational programs or March 2 Success, visit http://www.armyedspace.com/ and watch this video.

Jose A. “Tony” Castillo is Education Chief for U. S. Army Recruiting Command.  In his role he oversees several outreach initiatives and promotes Army education resources designed to help young people explore various career paths and succeed in their post-secondary future – as professionals and as citizens.

What do a football coach, astronaut, founder of Walmart and an Army four star general have in common?

(Sponsored Post) They are all graduates from Army ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Course). Lou Holtz, legendary football coach; Nancy Currie, space shuttle astronaut;  Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, and General (Retired) Colin Powell, are just a few of the great men and women that learned and developed their leadership skills from the Army ROTC program. Like many other ROTC graduates, their training gave them the skills to lead, manage, motivate their peers, and most importantly, foster teamwork – all the qualifications of successful leaders.

Army ROTC lays the groundwork for students to excel both personally and professionally by setting goals and guidelines that will take them to the next level of success – far enough to potentially create the fastest space shuttle or maybe the next great marketplace.

So what is Army ROTC?

Since its establishment in 1916, more than half a million men and women became officers through the Army ROTC program. Army ROTC is administered by the United States Army Cadet Command located at Fort Knox, Ky. The ROTC curriculum consists of a series of military science classes and hands-on leadership training experiences that provides students the necessary foundation to serve successfully in positions of responsibility – both in the Army and the civilian workforce. It can also provide benefits including full tuition, book and fees allowance, and a monthly stipend to qualified students. Just last year, the Army awarded approximately $294 million in scholarships to over 14,000 students across the nation – all studying a variety of specialized fields.

Today, with our host programs and partner schools we have Army ROTC at almost 1,000 campus locations across the country, as well as in Guam and Puerto Rico.

In addition to the Army college ROTC program, the Army offers Junior ROTC for high school students which teaches students to become better citizens. Currently, there are more than 320,000 cadets enrolled in over 1,730 JROTC programs at high school campuses in the U.S., American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and at selected American high schools overseas.

What’s next?

For many students, Army JROTC and ROTC programs provide the necessary structure to get them on the right path to leadership and life-long success.

As we work to prepare our future leaders to be the next great athlete, first astronaut to step foot on Mars, new innovator in e-commerce, or even a future Army general, we must provide our children and students with all of the resources available to lead them to success.

For more information on the Army ROTC program, visit www.goarmy.com/rotcinfo or text “rotcinfo” to GoArmy (462769).

Maj. Robert D. “Dean” Carter is the lead marketing officer for the United States Army Cadet Command. In his role he is responsible for synchronizing all recruiting, marketing and outreach events for the command designed to increase awareness of leadership training and opportunities provided by Army ROTC that will benefit a potential army officer in a successful army career and beyond to the civilian corporate community.

It’s PTA in Pop Culture Week!

“I just saw PTA referenced in “American Housewife” on ABC!”
“Did you know that movie “Bad Moms” was about the PTA?”
The Simpsons” rerun about the PTA was so funny!”

Does any of this sound familiar? I bet you’ve heard similar coffee-talk at your PTA meetings or while chatting with other parents. PTA pops up in all sorts of places!

A few months ago, National PTA’s Executive Director, Nathan Monell, found a PTA reference in a movie. I mentioned it at a meeting and people quickly began sharing their own “PTA finds.” Before I knew it, I had a monster list of PTA references in movies, music and television shows. And thus, PTA in Pop Culture Week (Dec. 18-Dec. 22) was born.

Before we dive into our favorite clips, let’s be clear—most references are not accurate reflections of the Parent Teacher Association. (Can you tell I’m sugar-coating here.) Most dramatizations of nutty bake sales, controlling moms and iron-fisted PTA councils are purely for entertainment purposes. They’re trying to make us laugh. And sometimes, they might even be taking a tiny dig. In the end, we can take it. We’re thick-skinned here. And the PTA can totally roll with the jokes. We love a good laugh too!

Let’s begin by going back in time to the “Harper Valley PTA.” It’s probably the most notable PTA reference in Pop Culture because not only does it span a few decades but it also spans a few mediums. It first hit the radio airwaves as a song in 1968 by Jeannie C. Riley. This country megahit was re-recorded by artists like Dolly Parton (1969), Billy Ray Cyrus (1996) and Martina McBride (2004). It’s a song about scandal, miniskirts and a really tough PTA!

Not only did it make a good song, it made a good movie. In 1978 Barbara Eden (“I Dream of Jeannie”) starred in the motion picture version of “Harper Valley PTA.” (FYI, if you have 90 minutes, we found the entire movie on YouTube.) And it didn’t end there. The movie was spun off into a TV sitcom in 1981. So who thinks it’s time for a “Harper Valley PTA” reboot in 2018?

Television has definitely embraced PTA throughout the years. There was “Everybody Loves Raymond” in the ‘90s when Debra decided to reveal her updated, edgier style at a PTA meeting. (Forward 1:00 into this clip for the funniest part.) In 1974, Carol Burnett channeled a diva-tempered PTA mom as she battled for a spot in the Annual PTA Show auditions. And then in 1957—before most of us were born—Uncle Bentley juggles a PTA meeting and a date with a Hollywood starlet in a “Bachelor Father.” (Skip to 12:00 to catch the PTA part!) Can you believe that reference is 60 years old?

It’s been a real blast producing PTA in Pop Culture Week. We hope you enjoy all our finds and we encourage you to share your own using #PTAPop on social media. And while it’s fun to see PTA pop up in movies, music and television, it’s even more satisfying to know that it’s the good work PTAs around the world do that’s truly what puts us in the spotlight. Enjoy PTA in Pop Culture Week and have a wonderful holiday season!

Scott Meeks is the Communications Manager for National PTA.

New Resources Help You Celebrate Healthy Lifestyles

November offered a lot to celebrate: Thanksgiving and Giving Tuesday to name a few. But it also celebrated Healthy Lifestyles Month, which brought families, schools, and communities together to improve the health of our children.

Even if you’re already practicing healthy habits at home, school is where children spend over 1,200 hours per year! That’s why it’s imperative to make sure they are getting nutritious foods and the recommended amount of daily physical activity at school.

Evidence shows that children who attend schools that promote physical activity and healthy eating perform better academically. What’s more, healthy school environments set the stage for children to adopt a healthy lifestyle into adulthood. Yet data shows several challenges schools face when it comes to implementing policies and programs that not only address childhood obesity but also enhance learning, behavior, attendance and more. Parents may want to help, but they don’t always know where to begin.

So what can you do?

Visit ParentsforHealthyKids.org, a new website from Action for Healthy Kids and National PTA, that helps parents and caregivers learn how to engage with school leaders and decision makers on health issues and find ways to help bring more physical activity and healthy eating to the school day.

In addition to providing ways to advocate for your child’s health at school, the website also provides tips, recommendations, recipes, and other ways to live a healthy lifestyle at home. This month, you can find new recipes as well as healthy holiday ideas.

In February, we’ll be announcing grants for parent-led projects, providing funds and technical support to schools and parent groups to implement health and wellness programs that include a family engagement component.

Learn more about these grants and sign up for other news here.

Parents may not fully realize what a powerful force for change they can be in schools when it comes to health and wellness. They have more of a vested interest in student health and learning than probably any other stakeholder, and they’re in a unique position to bring school staff, other parents and community partners together to improve it.

What better way to celebrate a healthy holiday season than to take action today?

Amy Moyer, MPH, RD, is the VP Field Operations with Action for Healthy Kids and mother of two girls.

 Action for Healthy Kids is a National PTA sponsor and has been invited to submit a blog post as part of their engagement with PTA.