3 Reasons Why PTA Means So Much to Me

Anna-King-grandchildrenA few years ago, a politician said something to me that hit me to my core and helped me find my voice. He was talking about the need for prisons and said they knew whether a child would go to college or prison by how they could read in the third grade.

So I thought, if we know that children are in trouble by the third grade, the answer isn’t to build prisons, it’s to build better schools and help our kids!

I believe in education and I hope you do too—because, now more than ever, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and everyone who cares about children needs to speak out loudly and effectively on their behalf. And no organization helps us do that better than National PTA.

If you’ve ever had kids in your life, PTA needs no introduction. You know about the cookie dough and wrapping paper drives that your school’s PTA puts on. Sometimes they’re trying to buy nicer playground equipment or new technology. Other times they’re making sure kids have the basic supplies, like notebooks and pencils.

It might seem strange because I am a grandmother in Oklahoma who’s raised her kids, but I am still inspired to be a part of the PTA chorus of advocating for every child with one voice. Here’s why:

  • You don’t have to have a student in school to join and use your voice. To me, that’s so inspiring. It shows me what’s possible. My own children are grown, but that doesn’t mean I no longer have a vested interest in today’s kids and schools. I now advocate side by side with my children for my grandchildren. I know that when schools are good, kids have a better chance to succeed—and when kids succeed, our community and country succeeds too. With leadership and guidance from National PTA, I’ve knocked on state and federal legislators’ doors, the governor’s door, spoken up at state and school board meetings and rallied other parents and community lead­ers to get involved. And I’ve seen how we can make a difference together because you can, too.
  • It takes a village of people who care, get more involved. My daughter’s high school didn’t have a PTA when she started as a freshman. But because of family and community involvement, it now has a strong and active group of parents, grandparents, alumni, teachers (and students!), who are working on behalf of their school. Feeding over 300 students bi-weekly with the food pantry is just one thing this PTA is now doing. Because of family and community involvement, local schools where I live have resources from our school district on how to help homeless par­ents and get clothing and shelter to abused moms and kids. Because of family and community involvement, PTAs throughout Oklahoma City and the entire state of Oklahoma are talking to each other, working with each other and speaking up for kids with each other.
  • You can make every child’s dream a reality. Right now, National PTA is leading the charge to restore federal funds that have been cut from education, bring pre-kindergarten to every child, ensure safe and healthy environments in all schools, raise the bar on academic achievement so every child can reach his or her full potential, and more. Whether we’re talking about funding for pre-kindergarten or creating safe schools, this is a fight for our future.

So let’s give our kids the bright future they deserve. We need to stand together to change the world for our children and grandchildren. Will you join me by donating to National PTA, the nation’s most determined and trusted voice for children? We can make a difference!


Anna King is a member of National PTA board of directors, former president of Oklahoma PTA and is a part of the Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Commission and participates in the Oklahoma Prevention Leadership Collaborative.

Lessons Learned from the PTA

KathieGreen_8x10printAs I retire from PTA this year, there are so many memories and opportunities I have had because of my involvement at the local, council, state and national PTA level.   My entire life would truly be different if one person had not asked me to get involved! I wouldn’t have had two jobs I absolutely love. The skills PTA taught me have served me very well. When I interviewed for my first job when reentering the workforce, the interviewer even bumped up the job I was going for because of the work I did in PTA. At that time I didn’t even equate writing newsletters, managing volunteers, public speaking at school, and organizing events as a PTA member relatable tasks to a job. Every day I am thankful for PTA for teaching me the very skills I need to succeed in the workforce. Without PTA, I wouldn’t have met incredible staff, creative and talented parents, and I wouldn’t have really gotten to know my community. The lifelong friends I have made are a bonus in my life and I am sincerely grateful.

In that spirit, the top things I have learned over the years are:

1) Be positive and be a cheerleader for your school. Sing the praises of the teacher that went above and beyond, thank the staff who work hard every day for our children, and notice the hours your principal is putting in. If you tell EVERYBODY the good stories, then you will start seeing those good stories everywhere. Be a school champion every chance you get!

2) Ask. Ask for help. Getting over this barrier is huge. Importantly though, be specific. Make it reasonable and break it down. I believe people do want to help, they just don’t know how and are worried about over-committing. Know what you need donations for. Is it for programs, scholarships or membership?  As for membership, this may be the most important ask. Members mean more informed parents, more volunteers, more of everything you need or at least access to that. Make it easy to join your PTA and make them ask year round—not just at the beginning of the year.

3) Say yes. Time is a valuable commodity but I will never regret one moment I spent volunteering to help schools. You CAN make a difference – it still stuns me that it is as simple as that. You may have the one idea your school, your PTA, your state, or National PTA needs. What do you do well or what do you want to learn? The opportunities for you to develop as a leader are there, but you have to have to say yes first.

4) Take advantage of opportunities. The smartest thing we ever did was write a Take Your Family to School Week Grant application for National PTA. Winning the grant made it easier to apply again, to have the courage and faith to apply for the Phoebe Apperson Hearst Award, and it gave us the momentum to grow to 729 PTA members—a number we did not expect. This also gave us the opportunity to attend any trainings, and National PTA and state conventions. The very best part of PTA is networking, sharing ideas and knowing you are not alone. So take advantage and step out of the school to make connections that will help you!

4) Say thank you often and to everyone. This spirit can take over PTA and people want to feel needed and appreciated. List your members in a newsletter to say thank you for joining. Start a Volunteer Hall of Fame. Write a thank you note. Post on Facebook that you are grateful for someone after an event. Every little “thank you” can go a long way with being positive.

5) And the most important thing of all…communication is the key and it needs to be consistent. What is the best way to reach parents at your school? At our schools it was a weekly email. This kept us organized and built in a natural deadline so it kept us on our toes. Parents do crave information. There are so many easy, free and even low cost avenues to spread the word about your PTA’s events or projects. The best money we spent was for Constant Contact to send our weekly newsletter. Much of the successes in PTA I have seen–whether it’s growing membership, increasing volunteers, and involving new leaders—is because of connections built through communication on a regular basis. Keep PTA in front of people and let everyone know where you stand. Publicize how many members you have, the events you do, how you help your school. If you don’t tell people, who will? Tell your story!

I sincerely love PTA and what it can bring to schools and children. No one will ever convince me that we don’t change the world every day. It’s in those hugs from kids when you do something fun at school that wouldn’t maybe have happened. It’s in the eyes of a new leader when the light bulb goes off and they figure out they can do it. It’s in the conversations with school personnel who need our support now more than ever. It’s getting your point across to a legislator who needs to hear your voice. Now it is my turn to walk the walk and get out of the way for young leaders to have this wonderful opportunity. I hope you grow to love it as much as I have. Thank you PTA for a wonderful experience over the years and for allowing me to be a small part of an amazing association!


Kathie Green is currently the Indiana PTA NE Region Vice President and National PTA Communications Committee Member. She was a former president for the Fort Wayne Area PTA Council and former co-president of Northrop High School PTSA.
 

Behind the Membership Scenes: Welcome to Today’s PTA!

When the PTA membership team was looking for ways to convey the spirit of our members, we wanted to come up with a message that reflected the rich diversity, history, and future of our membership. Most importantly, we wanted your voices to be heard.

We decided that the best way to find out what you’re thinking is to talk to you directly. So we did just that: we asked you about your PTA membership and what keeps you engaged at your local PTA meeting, at your child’s school, and in your community. We asked what matters most to you and how can we continue to contribute to your child’s success.

How did we do it? We invited thousands of you to tell us your stories by email survey, and you responded clearly, loudly, and strongly. You care about your child’s education; you value your PTA membership; and you want other families to be engaged in their children’s future, just as you are.

You want to be engaged in a way that meets your individual lifestyle and the multiple demands of today.  You want to connect with others at your PTA meetings to help build your child’s tomorrow. You want to show the strength of your voice. It was obvious to the membership team at National PTA that your voice is rooted in a rich history, but building in today’s modern setting. Your voice is Today’s PTA!

Today’s PTA describes the tone and path National PTA has created to embody our members mission to connect through advocacy, parent networking, school and community partnerships, and social media to give power to 5,000,000 members nationwide. Today’s PTA is you!

We invite you to continue to share with us on Facebook and Twitter to stay connected, network with other PTA members at our upcoming convention and conferences, and learn how you can become a better leader or advocate in the comfort of your own home through PTA e-learning. But most importantly, the National PTA membership team would like to thank you for making our job to connect with our members and stay engaged easier.  That’s because you are Today’s PTA …connected, dedicated, and powerful.


Joy Lindsey is the Membership Marketing Manager for National PTA in Alexandria, VA. Contact Joy at jlindsey@pta.org.

New Years and New Approaches

Welcome to 2010!

Now, be honest, how many of you have already broken at least one of your New Year’s Resolutions? I resolved this year not to make a resolution that was easy to break!

I resolved to 1) learn to tie my bow ties for myself, 2) work on improving my poker game, 3) play golf more often, 4) stop eating French Fries (which will be tough) and 5) walk more (had to do something healthy besides stop eating the fries).

One easy resolution that we all should remember is asking one person to join PTA.

Membership campaigns should be a year-round effort. PTA has built its history, and reputation, on the many voices speaking as one for all students. Yet, we see so many that are not part of the family. Are your neighbors members? How about your school board members? Does your school have 100% teacher membership? If you’re in a middle school, junior high or high school; how many of your students are members?

I find it impossible to believe that we each do not know at least one person we can recruit that is currently not a PTA member.

I can hear it now. I don’t have kids in school, why should I join PTA? Why not? When schools succeed, children succeed. When schools succeed, communities succeed. When businesses see this success they are more often willing to invest in that community. The tax base grows and everyone sees success, and that’s just one talking point.

By the way, Mom, is Dad a member?

Please join us by helping secure one new PTA member as your New Year’s Resolution. Good things will happen.

Until next time!
Charles “Chuck” Saylors
President, National PTA