I recently went to my first-ever mommy mafia meeting, better known as our local PTA.
But these are some pretty serious and seriously organized ladies. These ladies even had a PTA orientation for all us kindergarten parents just prior to this year’s first meeting so we could understand their purpose and mission.
The Parent Teacher Association (PTA) is the largest volunteer child advocacy association in the nation and it provides parents and families with a powerful voice to speak on behalf of every child while providing the best tools for parents to help their children be successful students. Our local group joins in with other local PTAs around the country under a National PTA umbrella organization.
When I was a child, my school system didn’t belong to the PTA, but we did have a Home-School Association. It seemed the only things they did were bake sales and art shows. They were nothing like these ladies.
I thought I was in for a light night of socializing and meeting some other moms – but this meeting was all business. Our local group is one of the highest-rated PTAs in New Jersey and I can see why. They have over 500 members, with many more volunteers, and they provide our kids and schools with many different educational programs, awards and gifts. Their list of annual achievements was impressive – thousands of dollars in teacher grants & student awards, assemblies (they bring in children’s authors, dance troupes, musical acts) as well as many events and programs for both kids and families.
I hadn’t realized it, but the school t-shirt, school calendar, directory and homework folder he came home with that first day was a present from the PTA. They also run the Kindergarten Buddy program. Each kindergartener is matched up with a 5th grader from their school as a sort of buddy/mentor for the new kids. My son loves his buddy, who comes to his classroom or library to help him with projects. His buddy is also is teaching him how to skateboard (yeah, I’m not too crazy about that one!).
As you would think, there are tons of fundraisers throughout the year. Your typical ones like book fairs and photo day, but these ladies (and I say ladies because the only men that were at the meeting were the principal of my son’s school and my town’s school superintendent) also run all of our town’s school lunch programs and have come up with creative fundraisers including cookie dough, Kidstuff coupon books and Spirit Wear.
I thought to myself, wow, these ladies are truly amazing, but they all must be stay-at-home moms to find time to do all this work. I really do want to be involved, but how on earth can I fit that in with a full-time job, the kids & Hubs, normal life stuff & this blog! I also know it scared a few of the SAHM sitting around me, one commented under her breath that she was worried it would cut into her daily workout and coffee klatch group time.
That’s when they truly blew my mind. It was like the President of our local PTA was reading my mind. She told us that the majority of the board and many members had full-time jobs and that she herself is an anesthesiologist. The success of the organization, she said, was not based on a small group of parents who volunteer to do everything, but for lots of parents to sign up for at least one thing that they do all they can to support it.
So I signed up to volunteer in setting up and working at this month’s bookfair at my son’s school. I can go after work and help set up and then, on my work from home day, take a shift working at the actual bookfair, and most importantly, when my son’s class is scheduled to be there. I think it’s important for him to see me there, that he knows I’m involved because he and his education are important to me.
I still sing that “Harper Valley, PTA” song whenever I see one of their emails in my inbox and even as I wrote this – but all kidding aside, this is a great group and if you have one in your local school system, I encourage you to get involved!
Now it’s your turn to share. Do you belong to a PTA or PTO? What is your favorite event to volunteer or work at?
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