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.

20 John Wooden Quotes to Share with Your Child

Legendary UCLA men’s basketball coach John Wooden accomplished a lot on the court—10 NCAA championships in 12 years, including an unprecedented seven in a row, and being named national coach of the year six times. For his players, though, it was what he taught them off the court that had a greater effect on their lives than what he taught them on the court. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton, among others, still speak of Coach Wooden in reverent terms. Here are 20 quotes from Coach Wooden to share with your child to help inspire them to do and be their best.

  1. “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”
  2. “You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”
  3. “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”
  4. “Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”
  5. “Young people need models, not critics.”
  6. “If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.”
  7. “Happiness begins where selfishness ends.”
  8. “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
  9. “The best competition I have is against myself to become better.”
  10. “Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.”
  11. “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”
  12. “Whatever you do, surround yourself with smart people who’ll argue with you.”
  13. “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”
  14. “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”
  15. “Today is the only day. Yesterday is gone.”
  16. “If you’re true to yourself, you’re going to be true to everyone else.”
  17. “You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.”
  18. “Make each day your masterpiece.”
  19. “Never make excuses. Your friends don’t need them, and your foes won’t believe them.”
  20. “The most important thing in the world is family and love.”

Consider picking a quote or two to discuss with your family this week, and really dig into what Coach Wooden is saying about character, success, and life.

 

What is Illinois PTA University?

The Illinois PTA University is an incentive program to encourage leadership development. The program is divided into three levels—Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree, and Doctorate Degree. Each level recognizes the accomplishment of PTA members who have completed its requirements. Those requirements include attendance at a variety of workshops, training courses, and PTA events.  Any PTA member may participate in the program, and there is no time limit for completing the requirements to earn a degree.

Transcripts (applications) are available at all courses and events, and any state board member, district director, or course trainer may sign. Completed transcripts should be sent to your District or Region Director or to the Illinois PTA Leadership Development Director. Doctoral recipients are recognized at the Illinois PTA Convention.

To earn the Bachelor’s Degree, participants must complete five requirements:

  • Take PTA 101: Your Road to Success (required for all officers)
  • Take Money Matters 101 (required for all treasurers)
  • Attend a Council, District, or Region meeting or workshop (this can be a training event where you take the above courses)
  • Attend an Illinois PTA state conference or workshop (not at the Illinois PTA Convention), such as an Illinois PTA Value of PTA event.
  • Attend the Illinois PTA Convention

To earn the Master’s Degree, participants must earn their Bachelor’s Degree and complete four out of five electives:

To earn the Doctorate Degree, participants must earn their Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees, complete the Illinois PTA Train the Trainers course, and complete a thesis project. The Train the Trainers course requires the recommendation of your District or Region Director or other Illinois PTA state board member to attend. The thesis project requires prior approval of the Illinois PTA Leadership Development Director, and is an opportunity for the candidate to apply what they have learned from the rest of their Illinois PTA University work. Examples of thesis projects include, but are not limited to:

  • Creating an approved PTA training course
  • Creating an approved PTA program
  • Hosting a candidate’s forum
  • Organizing a Value of PTA event

Contact your Region Director, District Director, or the Illinois PTA Leadership Development Director to schedule a course or visit the Illinois PTA website events page to see what courses are coming up.

Planning and Running Your First PTA Meeting

Photo © 2015 by Costa Constantinides under Creative Commons license.

If you’re a new PTA president, you probably have your first meeting of the year coming up soon. Here are some tips to get you ready to run that first meeting.

Planning the Meeting

  • Make sure your meeting date doesn’t conflict with other events.
  • Get announcements of the meeting out early. Remember that not everyone communicates in the same ways, so use multiple ways to get your message out.
  • Consult with your principal and teacher representative to find out if they have anything to share.
  • Contact your board members to see if they have agenda items.
  • Make sure any extra arrangements (e.g., babysitting, outside speaker, refreshments, etc.) are confirmed in advance.
  • Create your agenda. Make sure you have copies of the agenda and any information or action item handouts ready before the meeting.
  • For your first meeting, your audit report for last year and budget for this year need to be adopted in that order. You will also need to approve the minutes from the last meeting of last year.

Before the Meeting Starts

  • Have all your tools (e.g., gavel, Robert’s Rules of Order, bylaws, policy and procedure, etc.) readily at hand.
  • If you’re using any equipment (e.g., projector, microphone, SmartBoard, etc.), be sure it’s working properly.
  • Have someone welcome people as they come in the door.
  • Have some drinking water with you.
  • Take a deep breath and relax.

Running the Meeting

  • Start on time.
  • Stick to your agenda.
  • Be sure to have people wait to be recognized by you before speaking, and have them speak to the chair, not each other.
  • Remember to conduct a vote on motions. It’s easy to forget to do that when the discussion seems to come to a consensus.
  • Make sure everyone knows when the next meeting will be.
  • Thank everyone for attending before adjourning.

After the Meeting

  • Take another deep breath and relax.
  • Have a quick conversation with your board members about how the meeting went. Focus on three things: what worked, what didn’t work, and what sort of worked and needs improving.
  • Make a note of all the actions that were decided and who will be doing them. Follow up with those people to make sure they are on the same page.

Questions?

Do you have a leadership question? Looking for training for your PTA officers? If so, contact Illinois PTA Leadership Development Director Brenda Diehl at bdiehl@illinoispta.org.