Is your PTA struggling to find volunteers? Do your PTA meetings always have the same six people showing up? Are you finding it hard to engage all families in your school? Did you know that PTA has a program that will help your PTA address all those issues? The School of Excellence program has been doing just that for eight years now, and Illinois PTAs can testify to its success.

The School of Excellence program walks you through a process to engage your school’s families step-by-step. Your PTA enrolls in the program online by October 1 (sample showing the information needed to enroll here). After enrollment, you will receive a survey for your families about your school and engagement. Based on what your PTA learns from the survey, you set a goal for the year and get a custom-made Roadmap to Success that is unique to your PTA. At the end of the year, you conduct a follow-up survey with your families and celebrate your success.

One of the first Schools of Excellence in Illinois, Kreitner Elementary, discovered that the language barrier was not why the Spanish-speaking families were not attending PTA meetings and events, but that they didn’t feel welcome at the school or in the PTA. Using their Roadmap to Success, Kreitner PTA developed a plan to make every family feel welcome at the school. The result was going from a handful of people at PTA meetings to over 200 and significant increases in family engagement. Kreitner PTA found the program so successful, they went through it a second time, becoming Illinois’s first two-time School of Excellence.

Last year, Helen Keller Junior High School PTA became a School of Excellence and the Phoebe Apperson Hearst Award recipient for Outstanding Family-School Partnership, the top School of Excellence in the nation. Like Kreitner PTA, they discovered through the survey that what they thought they knew about the families at their school wasn’t the case. Their Roadmap to Success built strong family-school connections through PTA programs, engaging families at an age that many PTAs and PTSAs find difficult.

The pandemic has resulted in a lot of people reassessing things in their lives, from what they want from their employment to how they balance work and family life and more. Families at your school may have changed their focus as well, perhaps being less interested in fundraising and more interested in learning how to support their child’s academic success or more interested in volunteering their time rather than working an extra hour a day at their job. Enroll your PTA in the School of Excellence program to discover what your families now prioritize and how you can better engage them.