Friday, May 6, 2016

How Do They Do It?

Source: National PTA One Voice Blog

One hardworking local PTA meets the wide-ranging needs of 1,800 K-8 students and their families spread across four grade level centers.

Kim Mayton, a mom to seven-year-old twins, has a familiar story about how she ended up in a PTA leadership role. “When my kids were entering pre-K, the teacher told us parents that the class needed a Room Mom. I was interested in getting involved, but also intimidated. You couldn’t volunteer as a Room Mom unless you first joined the PTA. That made me pause. I had certain stereotypes in my head about the PTA and I definitely hesitated. But I wanted to help my kids transition well into school, so I went ahead and joined.” Kim laughs as she recalls, “It kind of snowballed from there.”

Kim now serves as the vice president of fundraising, co-chair of hospitality and chair of the school supply committee at Homewood PTA. Located 25 miles south of Chicago in the village of Homewood, Ill., this one hardworking PTA supports 1,800 K-8 students and their families spread across four grade level centers. “It definitely can be a challenge to have one PTA spanning multiple campuses,” remarks Kim. “We probably don’t run exactly like a traditional elementary school PTA but I’m betting we are more alike than different.”

Homewood PTA currently has their dues set at $10. With a little over 600 paid members and a typical annual operating budget of approximately $40,000, successful fundraisers are critical to ensuring they have adequate resources to deliver the depth and breadth of programs their PTA has become known for. “We simply cannot afford to have unsuccessful or underperforming fundraisers,” says Homewood PTA president Ann-Marie Webster. “We have to get this right to hit our budget. We carefully consider which fundraisers will yield the best results while not being a burden to our volunteers and families.”

So, that prompts the burning question: Which fundraisers does Homewood PTA choose?
A member of the Homewood PTA board was a longtime Schwan’s Home Service customer and advocated for the group to consider the Schwan’s Cares™ program (the charitable fundraising platform within Schwan’s Home Service, Inc.). When Homewood PTA discovered that Schwan’s Home Service delivers right to individual customers’ doors, instead of requiring a scheduled pick-up by families or requiring the PTA to accept and manage inventory for distribution, “We were thrilled!” says Kim.

Homewood PTA launched their first Schwan’s Cares campaign this school year. In addition to all the “usual” promotions, such as featuring the campaign on the PTA’s website, Facebook and sending home printed materials to families, they recognized that “tasting how great the food is would probably lead a lot more people to buy it.” So the PTA used a small amount of funds to purchase a selection ofSchwan’s® foods and encouraged tastings at two PTA general meetings. Kim notes, “I highly recommend offering samples for any food-based fundraiser based on this experience – even if you have to buy the sample food out of PTA funds. It really helped people decide what to order!”
The PTA took some additional steps to promote the fundraiser, including:
  • Passing out Schwan’s® catalogs (tagged with a sticker for the Homewood PTA fundraiser) at local libraries and senior centers, after receiving permission to do so at those locations
  • Collaborated with the secretaries at the four campuses to compose and send an e-blast to all families about the campaign
  • Making sure that fliers and catalogs are featured at any school events during the campaign
Ann-Marie cautions that the relationship with Schwan’s Home Service is new and they don’t yet have a full grasp on how profitable these campaigns will be, but she is optimistic based on how things are going. “Have you had Schwan’s® ice cream? It’s amazing. If people just order lots of that, we’re going to do fine.”

Advice for Fellow PTA Leaders
Given Homewood PTA’s success over the years, what advice does Kim and Ann-Marie have for other local PTAs?

Ann-Marie has plenty of suggestions. To start: “Don’t be afraid to ask for help. One or two people cannot run a PTA! If people indicate a willingness to serve in some way, actually ask them to serve! Delegate!” In addition, she suggests:
  • Homewood PTA prioritized having a modern website for their PTA and they keep it current so members will want to check it frequently and rely on it for information.
  • Use all forms of communication. Paper is fine, such as the typical PTA newsletter that goes home in the backpacks. But also use social media. Find parents who are really good at those and ask them to take responsibility for updating. Homewood PTA values social media because “it creates two-way dialogue.”
  • Show appreciation constantly to your volunteers, administrators and teachers. Homewood PTA has a strong bond with their campus principals and “they are amazing allies. They promote the value of PTA at all opportunities. They encourage all the teachers to join PTA and always are supporting us.”
  • Always talk about and “promote” what PTA is doing to support the students. “When individuals know all the things that PTA has been doing to benefit their kids and the community, they will pay dues and maybe even donate more than the dues.”
For more info about the fundraising opportunities and discounts available to schools and PTA members through the Schwan’s Cares™ program, visit PTA.org/Benefits.


Kris Carey Prevatte is the Associate Director of Corporate Alliances for National PTA and a former local PTA president in Maryland.
Schwan’s Home Service, Inc. is a financial sponsor of National PTA. National PTA does not endorse any commercial entity, product, or service, and no endorsement is implied by this content.



Thursday, May 5, 2016

Frequently Asked Questions (ESSA)

The U.S. Department of Education posted an updated set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) concerning the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The Department has prepared these FAQs to support states and school districts in understanding expectations during the transition to full implementation of the ESSA. They recognize there are questions that are still not addressed in this document; but will continue to update and add to these FAQs over the coming months.
National PTA has posted these FAQs on National PTA’s ESSA webpage –www.pta.org/essa along with other materials to help you, PTAs, and parents across the country understand the law and how they can be involved in the implementation process moving forward.


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

National PTA Applauds 2016 National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes



National PTA Applauds 2016 National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes

Hayes and other educators from across the country honored at the White House

ALEXANDRIA, Va., (May 4, 2016) — Last evening, President Barack Obama honored Jahana Hayes as the 2016 National Teacher of the Year in a special ceremony at the White House. Hayes teaches history at John F. Kennedy High School in Waterbury, Conn. She was selected to receive the honor for her commitment to the importance of service-learning and ensuring students are prepared to achieve success in life. In addition to Hayes, other educators from across the country were also selected for personal recognition by President Obama, including Jennifer Doll-Fowler, a second-grade teacher in Omaha, Neb. and president of Nebraska PTA.

“Jahana, Jennifer and teachers like them across the country have an immense impact on the lives and futures of our nation’s children,” said Laura Bay, president of National PTA. “National PTA congratulates Jahana on her recognition as the 2016 National Teacher of the Year and applauds her, Jennifer and all teachers for the hours they spend and efforts they make to ensure every child reaches his/her full potential and is prepared for long-term success.”

Hayes strives to send students into the world not just academically prepared but as conscientious and productive members of society. Connecting lessons learned in school to real life is an integral part of her instruction. As the 2016 National Teacher of the Year, Hayes is committed to engaging people who have not traditionally been part of the conversation to join in the effort to prepare well-rounded students for success—in school and beyond.

The National Teacher of the Year is chosen from among the State Teachers of the Year by a national selection committee representing leading education organizations, including National PTA. The National Teacher of the Year program is run by the Council of Chief State School Officers.

In addition to being a part of the National Teacher of the Year program, National PTA designates the first week of May as Teacher Appreciation Week to thank, support and elevate these real life superheroes for their important contributions and the difference they make for children nationwide.

“Our teachers give so much,” added Nathan R. Monell, CAE, executive director of National PTA. “It is vital that teachers have our support and that we honor and thank them during Teacher Appreciation Week and all year round for going above and beyond for our kids.”

About National PTA
National PTA® comprises millions of families, students, teachers, administrators and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of family engagement in schools. PTA is a registered 501(c) (3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health and welfare of children and youth.

Media Contact
Heidi May Wilson, National PTA
hmay@pta.org, (703) 518-1242



Mental Health Awareness Day

Source: National PTA One Voice Blog


awareness-day-2016-save-the-date


One in five children in the U.S. lives with a mental health condition and research shows that about 50% of all mental disorders that happen in adulthood can be identified as early as the age of 14.

Learning that your child may have a mental disorder may be challenging, but it’s important to know that children can and do recover from such conditions. Early intervention and access to services and supports is key to supporting every child’s mental health.

Every year, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) hosts National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day to raise awareness about children’s mental health. The Awareness Day 2016 national event in Washington, DC— “Finding Help. Finding Hope.”—will explore how communities can improve access to behavioral health services and supports for children, youth and young adults with mental and substance use disorders and their families.

This year, parents and caregivers around the country will have the chance to interact with the national event through Awareness Day Live!—an opportunity for families to join the national conversation by viewing the event’s live webcast and posing questions to panelists on stage via digital and social media. You’ll hear from a teacher, a student and a parent about ways to connect with mental health services and supports through the school system.

The event takes place Thurs., May 5, in Washington, DC at 7 p.m. EST at The George Washington University School of Media & Public Affairs’ Jack Morton Auditorium. If you are in the district, you can register to attend.

If you can’t make it to the event in-person, here are a few ways you can participate in Awareness Day Live!:
  • Watch the live webcast on May 5 at 7 p.m. ESTView the national event webcast.
  • Use social media to join the onstage discussion via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using the hashtag #HeroesofHope.
  • Your children and youth can organize a group of friends to participate in the Awareness Day 2016 “Text, Talk, Act” discussion on May 5 by texting “START” to 89800. “Text, Talk, Act” is a text messaging platform that leads small groups through a conversation about mental health and how to help a friend in need.
  • View the on-demand version of the national event at a later date with a small group, and discuss how children with behavioral health conditions can be better supported in your school.
For more info about National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day or for mental health resources, please visit SAMHSA.gov/children.