How Do You Tell Your PTA’s Story?

At this year’s National PTA Convention, Illinois PTA President Brian Minsker was speaking with PTA members from Tennessee about their efforts in raising the age for juvenile courts there. He shared the Illinois PTA report on Young Adults Involved in the Justice Systemwith them. One of them asked him to join their PTA, which he did. [Membership Tip: Many people will happily join your PTA just to support your work and the kids you serve if you just ask.]  

Shortly after convention, he received an e-mail that was sent to all of their new members highlighting what Frayser Community PTSA had done in the previous year in three videos. Whether it is video of an event, a movie made from pictures taken during an event, or a simple PowerPoint with pictures running in a loop, this is a great way to share what your PTA is doing for children to get people to join. Consider having a laptop at your PTA table at school registration or Open House night showing a video or slideshow. Far too often people are afraid to join PTA because they think you will ask them to volunteer. Instead, don’t stress the need for PTA volunteers and show them how your PTA is making a difference for kids—then they’ll want to volunteer. The rest of this post is courtesy of Regenia Dowell, President of Frayser Community PTSA in Memphis.

Frayser Community PTSA STEM + Families Night

Frayser Community PTSA received a grant from National PTA to host a STEM + Families event. As part of the event, community members from local businesses joined in as volunteers, including a chemist from PMC, workers from Charms Candy Company, and engineers from Federal Express. They helped with activity stations where family could have hands-on experiences doing experiments.

Student Storm the Hill

Student Storm the Hill is an annual event hosted by Tennessee PTA. Frayser Community PTSA was able to take middle and high school students from district, charter, and private schools in their community to the statehouse. PTSA members and teachers served as chaperones. The PTSA provided transportation, breakfast, and lunch, all at no cost thanks to a Community Enhancement grant from two of their County Commissioners.

Students were given packets that explained how a bill becomes a law. They gathered in the state House of Representatives and sat in the members’ seats. The students conducted a mock legislative session, voted on the bill they had discussed, and got to watch the votes tabulated on the light up voting board. The students were also able to meet with their representatives to share their concerns about what was important to them.

 

MLK 50 Celebration

The 50thanniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a big event in Memphis. Frayser Community PTSA partnered with WKNO PBS Kids to have a free community event for people in the neighborhood to come together to celebrate and honor the legacy of Dr. King. The PTSA brought in community service agencies, entrepreneurs, schools, and faith-based groups to ‘Invest in the Dream”—the children of Frayser Community PTSA. Information booths were set up with trivia games that provided a free book to each child correctly answering questions. There was a petting zoo, train rides, inflatables, a rock climbing wall, and a balloon artist to keep kids entertained. The PTSA also had an essay contest for middle and high school students.

 

How does your PTA tell its story? Share it with your district or region director so Illinois PTA can highlight the great things your PTA is doing for kids.

Learning to Say No

Saying no ought to be pretty easy. As parents, we tell our kids no all the time. But as PTA volunteers, chances are you have trouble saying no when someone asks you to do something. At a PTA training, the trainer asked the group what was the one characteristic that linked everyone at the training. The first answer was, “An inability to say ‘no’ when asked.” There are a lot of different reasons why we don’t say no—we don’t want to let down the kids or the principal, one of our friends from PTA is asking, or we want to be seen as a team player.

Edutopiarecently published an article on getting comfortable with saying no. While aimed at teachers, the article also applies directly to PTA volunteers as well. Learning to say no when someone asks you to take on another volunteer position is important. If your heart isn’t in the task or your skill set doesn’t align well with what the job needs, saying yes can lead to a lot of stress and frustration for you or an event that reflects poorly on the PTA.

The article suggests asking yourself a few questions before you say no.

  • Why are you saying no?
  • When you say no, are you offering a solution?
  • What do you want?

We often avoid saying no because it feels awkward after we do or because it sounds too final and absolute. The article also suggests three ways to say no.

  • May I have time to reflect?
  • I’ll need a day to think this through.
  • I believe in risk taking, but I’ll need to calculate this one.

All three of these responses provide you with the time to think through your answer and to do what’s best for both you and your PTA. Read the full article for further information on these questions to ask yourself and ways to say no.

 

New Resources from National PTA

One of the advantages of being a PTA is having both a state and a national organization to help provide resources and tools to make your job as a PTA leader easier. National PTA has recently released two new resources to help you recruit new membersand to show your appreciation to teachers.

New Membership Resources

Membership is at the heart of PTA. Members allow us to do great things for children in our schools and make our voice more powerful when we speak to legislators. To help PTAs recruit and retain members, National PTA has created three new flyers(scroll down and expand links at the bottom of the page). The flyers are targeted at three different audiences:

  • General Audience (for policymakers, advocates, and outside organizations)
  • Families and Educators (for families, caregivers, and community members who share the mission of helping every child succeed)
  • Parent and School Leaders (for local parent and school leaders such as teachers and administrators)

The flyers are available as fillable PDFs in both color and black and white and in both Spanish and English. All of the flyers have a fillable graphic box for your PTA logoand text box for contact information on the front. The families and educators flyer also has a customizable membership form on the back.

Teacher Appreciation Week Resources

Teacher Appreciation Week is coming up May 7-11, and National PTA has new resources to recognize those VITs (Very Important Teachers)at your school. Teachers do so much for our children every day, and the effect they have on children’s lives lasts for decades. Almost every adult can immediately name a teacher who made a difference in their life.

National PTA has created several resources to help PTAs show their appreciation for all that teachers do with a collection of editable resources, including:

Use the #ThankATeacher hashtag to promote what your PTA is doing for Teacher Appreciation Week, and keep an eye on National PTA’s One Voice blogand PTAOurChildren.orgfor other ways to celebrate your school’s teachers.

Thanking Your Volunteers

The holidays are a time for reflection and gratitude. It’s also the midpoint of the school year, which makes it a good time as a PTA leader to take a bit of time to think about what you’ve accomplished so far and what lies ahead.

A good part of your PTA’s success depends on your volunteers, which makes the holiday season a good time to show them some gratitude. One meaningful way to show your appreciation to your volunteers is a simple thank you note. If you’re not sure what to say, this love to know blog post provides some sample thank you notes and tips on writing them.

If writing is not your style or strength, check out the Appreciate Volunteers website. The site was created by two longtime volunteers who know the passion and dedication volunteering takes and who wanted to help those managing volunteers recognize them and their efforts. The site has a variety of categories, including:

  • New Volunteers
  • Simple Volunteer Recognition
  • Volunteer Anniversaries
  • Volunteer Appreciation Gifts
  • Volunteer Appreciation Ideas
  • Volunteer Parties
  • Volunteer Recognition Events
  • Volunteer Recognition on a Budget

Showing your volunteers your appreciation and gratitude for the time and effort they put forth for your PTA helps to keep them involved going forward and can help bring in new volunteers. There’s a benefit for you as well: studies show that expressing gratitude can make you happier.