On August 9th several of us attended a Back to School Event in Aurora where Otha Thornton, National PTA President was the key- note speaker. Sue Kling, the president of Gwendolyn Brooks School PTA was asked to introduce Otha to the audience. What an awesome way to start her term as a new local unit president! Sue stood there full of energy, enthusiasm, was very approachable and had done her homework. She said,
“Ask me anything about Otha, I know it all.” During the brief time Sue and I had a conversation, she asked me if I had any advice to share. My advice was do what you are doing. There is a great deal of mileage that can be gained through enthusiasm and conveying a strong sense of energy. Know the subject matter you want to promote to enable individuals to gain knowledge from you in a timely manner. Convey the message that you are receptive to new ideas and a good listener. Sue will make a great local unit president.
While many attendees were attending workshops, Otha spent time with a small group of parents for a Q and A session. Key advice reflected the need to develop relationships and communication. Building the relationship between administrators, teachers, and families is key to the success of our children. Ask how your local unit/council can assist with the School Improvement Plan. PTA has a great deal of ready to go resources which you can share.
As new boards assemble this fall, opportunities will be available to promote the safety, health and welfare of children as well as ways to help children reach their potential. While great ideas are discussed, it is the goal of many boards to make them come to fruition through influencing stakeholders. The question often asked is how – “How can we get others to embrace this new concept?” To inspire others to embrace change and new ideas, we need to share knowledge, show respect, and reflect their values. While planning ways to help others consider new concepts:
- Answer the question why should we do this?– be prepared, do your homework, have a consistent message.
- Details, Details, Details – the more specific you are with a well thought out plan, the more likely it will be embraced.
- Who – realize who the key players are to make this happen.
- Have a conversation on how this will impact all stakeholders.
- Share your expectations, the desired outcome, as well as, any difficulties which may arise.
- Decide how best to disseminate information. *
Keep in mind, communication is the key to building relations. Communication helps keep everyone on the same page. The more people who buy into the idea the more likely your success.
As parents, we have the opportunity to influence change outside of the school community in our local communities, state level and national level through our ability to vote. While PTAs cannot support or endorse candidates, local units/councils are encouraged to host Candidates Forums as a service to their community. Helping to educate voters on candidates’ positions on issues is an important tool in addressing the needs of our children. For additional information visit:
The National PTA website and Nonprofit VOTE.
*(Suggestions from The Non Profit Board Report – September 2014)