November is a most pivotal month. It is the the beginning of the holiday season. It marks the final approach to the close of another passing year. November is the month that culminates the bulk of PTA planned events prior to winter break, and November is the month PTAs begin to plan new beginnings for the next school year by selecting a nominating committee.
It’s October. It’s officially fall, but it still feels like summer! While it still maybe hot just like when you were getting your PTA business off the ground, I can tell you with confidence that the work in your PTA is taking shape, and moving forward because of all the great questions you are asking, and taking responsibility to “get things right.”
“Commitment, and Everything that Goes with It”
Commitment…(according to the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary) is defined as, 1.) a promise to do or give something; 2.) a promise to be loyal to someone or something; 3.) the attitude of someone who works very hard to support something.
All of these definitions are tied to the pledge or agreement by an individual who has good intentions of supporting work in an organization they believe in, as well as demonstrating commitment of support for family members and friends. Sometimes though, the ‘well-intentioned’ individual is unable to meet his/her commitments. There are unforeseen circumstances that occur; poor choices have made based on lack of information or clarity, or the stress or inability to make decisions can lead to making a wrong choice. Some people who are uncomfortable with making decisions let circumstances and time, dictate the choice for them.
As PTA leaders we must provide our volunteers with complete information about tasks and responsibilities we ask them to consider doing. We must have a sense of our parents’, teachers’, and community members’ interests and strengths, so we can help place them in a volunteer position that suits their abilities, honors their time commitment, and helps them feel that they are achieving and contributing to the welfare of their children and community. We must be honest about the primary tasks of the job and the time commitment involved. TIME COMMITMENT is different than COMMITMENT TO THE PTA. This is where I believe we get in trouble.
COMMITMENT TO THE PTA means that an individual values the ideals, goals and objectives, and mission of the PTA organization, and will make the personal determination on what ways he/she can show effective support for their local PTA. For some it will be simply be becoming a member, and attending meetings to voice their opinions on programs and activities; for others it will be becoming a member, attending meetings, and volunteering solely in their child’s classroom. Others may choose to become members, attend meetings, volunteer in the classroom, and serve on a PTA committee and/or hold a PTA elected office. Still others may become a member, never attend a meeting, volunteer either only in the classroom or on a PTA committee. Finally, there are people who will become PTA members, never attend a PTA meeting, never volunteer time (for whatever reason; no judgment), but choose to participate in the fundraisers and donate money. Guess what? That’s all okay.
What’s challenging is when multiple individuals at or around the same time have difficulty in fulfilling their time commitment, and this can occur frequently inside of one PTA. For some PTAs it’s epidemic. Each individual needing to resign or cut-down on volunteer time, for the most part, sees only their situation. As presidents we see multiple situations having multiple impacts on implementing events and programs. This can feel overwhelming.
So how we can we minimize some of this organizational culture?
- From the beginning, be clear and honest as to what the needs and expectations are of your PTA;
- Be clear and honest as to what the job responsibilities are;
- Provide your volunteers accurate information at all times on PTA practices;
- Be clear and honest as to what the time commitments are for serving on the PTA executive board, serving on a PTA committee, and completing all PTA tasks.
- Know, get to know your parents, teachers, and community members who want to be involved in your PTA, so they participate in activities where they achieve and contribute to the success of their students, and the PTA.
- Recognize your PTA members’ desire to help, and encourage them to help in realistic ways that meet their time constraints.
- Follow-up with names on volunteer sign-up sheets that were available at the Back-to-School Coffee, Kindergarten Welcome Tea, and Back-to-School Night to name a few recruiting opportunities.
- Don’t be afraid to cancel an event or program if you do not have the volunteers to plan and implement the activity. I know your students would have loved whatever that program was, and in your heart-of-hearts you want to give your children everything, but it is important to be realistic about what can be done and what causes “burn-out” and “PTA fatigue.”
Now that we have covered supporting our PTA members’ abilities to commit, let’s address the level of commitment of the PTA president. The same applies to you. While your heart is big, and your desire “to do it all” to help others succeed is at the forefront of your thoughts and efforts, you too can only do so much based on time constraints. You are the role model and set the example for others to follow. Only commit to what is realistic based on your time demands and responsibilities. The work can get done with delegation to a strong volunteer base that are well-supported, appreciated, and are having fun achieving on behalf of their children.
Whatever you say to encourage someone to volunteer, do not begin your sentence with, “It’s only…” because it never is “only” anything. After all, it’s only the time in one’s life they are choosing to give.
Contact me if you need anything.
SCV Council PTA
“There’s No Place Like PTA!”
The heat of the summer may be continuing, but the sounds of the schools bells are beginning to ring across our valley. The sounds of the children rejoicing and greeting their friends after summertime off, playing tether ball, and laughing are seasonal signs that it is time to buckle down, focus on learning, and of course join your local PTA.
There’s no place like PTA because membership in PTA encourages, empowers, and supports parents and from all walks of life to become actively involved in their child’s education. PTA provides ample opportunities for parents from all social, ethnic, and economic backgrounds to be involved in their student’s education, as well as having a voice in school matters, and planning programs and events at their school. Whether a parent can give 30 minutes a week or 30 hours a month depending on their schedule, PTA can be organized to accommodate the various needs of its volunteers. If a parent/member is unable to volunteer, PTA membership still allows that parent/ member to attend meetings and voice their ideas and opinions that help shape the direction of the PTA.
There’s no place like PTA because the beauty of PTA is that has a proven structure for successful leadership (PTA was established in 1897.), and a business model that any school whether religious, public, private, traditional or charter can adopt and organize to meet the needs of its own unique community. PTAs within the same school district may not look alike in terms of fundraisers, programs, activities, and events offered, because of the differing priorities and needs within the various school communities. However, what the PTAs have in common is the ability to set and realize their goals and priorities that enhance and enrich the education of their students.
There’s no place like PTA because PTA is your voice for expressing and representing to each other, educators, local, state, and federal elected-officials the concerns, needs, ideas, visions, direction, and support that are needed to continuously improve student learning, so that your children are prepared for college and career, and to be responsive, caring, independent adults.
There’s no place like PTA because what makes PTA unique is the in-depth support there is for the volunteers/members. PTA is a national organization that provides its members access to support through state and regional PTAs, as well as through volumes of resource materials, annual convention, trainings, most of which can be accessed through its website(capta.org).
There’s no place like PTA because at PTA we encourage anyone who is interested in supporting their students and local schools, whether they are relatives, friends, teachers, principals, school district administrators, elected-officials, or local businesses to join PTA. Your membership, your voice, will shape the vision and direction of your child’s education and future, as well as the direction and quality of your local school and community.
To join PTA, please contact your local school or me, Sue Solomon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
President, SCV Council PTA
August 9 special mtg for SCV Executive (Time: tbd)
August 11 special Association meeting 9-11am at Old Orchard ll Clubhouse.
Agenda Item : Endorsement of Saugus Union School District Facilities Bond
Executive Board Meeting Agenda
Monday, July 21, 2014
25300 Via Artina Valencia, CA 91355
Hello fellow board members and distinguished leadership team!
Just a reminder that this Thursday, May 29, 10am is an executive board meetig at my home, 25300 Via Artina.
Looking forward to seeing you! Everyone is on the agenda!
And So It Goes….
The 2013-2014 school year is coming to an end! Wow! What a year it has been! Every PTA/PTSA worked hard to provide educational opportunities for their students which included enrichment classes, field trips, community outreach projects, family events, fundraising for libraries, technology, science labs, teacher support, and the list goes on.
During these very busy times, some PTAs faced critical internal challenges which sometimes included leadership changes midyear, working with a new principal, or even facing the question as to whether or not to remain a PTA. School districts also began implementing Common Core Standards and asked PTAs for their help to communicate this very significant change in the way instruction will be delivered and how students will learn.
The amazing aspect of all of this is that not one PTA/PTSA ever faltered on its commitment to their students, families and educators! It is definitely tough to keep everything moving in a coherent, collaborative way with the possibility that things can change on a dime. However, what I saw this year in everyone’s leadership is courage, resolve, and passion to do what’s right for the children and their school communities. Each of you should be proud of yourselves and your PTA leadership team for everything that has been accomplished this year. Your SCV Council Leadership team is quite proud of each of you!
At this time, I want to say thank you for making my first year as your SCV Council president most pleasurable, educational, entertaining and fun! Getting to know all of you was delightful! It has been my pleasure to serve you and support you in your PTA endeavors. I look forward to doing it all again next year! I have said this many times, “Of all the positions I have held at every level of PTA, serving as SCV Council PTA president is my favorite and absolutely remains my favorite role!” A special thank goes to the PTA/PTSA presidents who served this year and who are either moving to a different position or retiring from PTA altogether.
I would be remiss if I did not also acknowledge the support for PTA from your site administrators, and school district officials. Without their support PTAs are tougher to operate. Let’s not forget that site principal is part of the PTA team as is the teacher.
New presidents and all officers coming in…no worries! The SCV Council PTA Leadership team is here for you as is your outgoing president and other officers to help you with transition. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. You certainly aren’t expected to know everything in the first five minutes. There will be trainings! You will shortly receive the new calendar for next year that will tell when and where the Council association meetings are held which include trainings, and what’s due when.
At this time the board – elect should have begun planning meetings where you draft a budget, calendar, set goals and meeting protocols. Approval for the budget and calendar can happen at your last association meeting of this school year, and again at your first association meeting in the new school year. Certainly planning the membership campaign takes place now and/or during summer.
The SCV Council PTA Leadership team wishes that each of you enjoy your summer.
Be healthy! Be safe! Have fun, and make sure you have time for yourself, so that you can be ready to work when duty calls. If you maintain balance between your mind and your heart, you can handle anything with ease.
SCV Council PTA