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.

 

News from National Convention—Membership

Membership is at the heart of PTA, so it’s not surprising that membership was the focus of several workshops and one big announcement at the 2018 National PTA Convention in New Orleans. The announcement? Every PTA leader who registers or logs in to the Local PTA Leader Kit(formerly the Back-to-School Kit) will receive a new DIY Kit for Membership Growth by mail while supplies last.

The kit contains everything local PTA leaders need to develop a Do-It-Yourself membership plan. Included in the kit are promotional posters, customizable membership resources, and a Design Your PTA/PTSA Membership P.L.A.N. booklet. PLAN stands for:

  • Pictureways to reach and attract possible PTA/PTSA members.
  • Listento what matters most to them and align your PTA’s efforts.
  • Askpossible members to join PTA by sharing PTA’s focus on what matters most to them.
  • Nurturerelationships year-round by communicating the impact your PTA/PTSA is making for your students, school, and community.

The guidebook walks you through each of the steps with examples, questions to consider, and brainstorming prompts for you and your fellow PTA leaders to develop a membership plan tailored to your PTA, your school, and your community. The guidebook is printed in both English and Spanish. Get yours today!

Workshops

The new DIY Kit for Membership Growth was a big focus of most of the membership workshops at the 2018 National PTA Convention. The other workshop focused on attracting more parents, students, and educators to PTA in middle and high schools. The latter featured Illinois PTA’s South Suburban Cook Region Director Darvel Stinson as one of the panelists.

Among the ideas floated at the workshop were events that would attract students such as a car care night (learn how to check and change your oil, change a tire, etc.) or a sexual violence awareness event. Consider partnering with business classes at your high school to handle running and marketing PTA Reflections at the school. If your PTA offers grants to teachers, require teachers applying for a grant to be PTA members, and offer extra consideration points for teachers who have attended PTA meetings or based on the number of PTA parent and student members in their homerooms. For teachers without a homeroom class, offer extra consideration points for their doing a project with the PTA that engages families.

The workshop also provided a handout with links to the following resources:

News from National Convention—Grant Opportunities

At the 2018 National PTA Convention in New Orleans, numerous new grant opportunities were announced that PTAs (and in some cases, PTA Councils and PTA districts or regions) can apply for. These grants provide an opportunity for your PTA to implement new programs and grow your PTA.

STEM + Families Science Festival Grants

Deadline: August 26, 2018

National PTA and Bayer have teamed up to promote Science Festivals with two unique grants available depending on your type of PTA. The 2018-2019 National PTA STEM + Families Science Grants sponsored by Bayer will award $1,000to 30 local PTAs to host a STEM + Families Science Festival, and $3,000to five State, District, Council or Region PTAs to partner with local PTAs in hosting Science Festivals. Learn more and apply.

STEM + Families Math Grants

Deadline: August 26, 2018

National PTA and Mathnasium are partnering to empower families to support student success and fill a critical gap in STEM education. The 2018 National PTA STEM + Families Math Grants sponsored by Mathnasium award local PTAs $1,000to host one STEM + Families Math event with students and families at their Elementary School. Learn more and apply.

Healthy Lifestyles Grants

Deadline: August 26, 2018

National PTA and GOYA-Move are partnering to support Healthy Lifestyles month by offering $1,000to 15 local PTAs who commit to hosting a “Get Off Your Apps” Physical Activity Event at their elementary and middle schools during the month of November. Learn more and apply.

Phoebe Apperson Hearst Awards

Deadline: Enroll in National PTA School of Excellence by October 1, 2018

The Phoebe Apperson Hearst Awardsfor innovation in family engagement, named after National PTA co-founder Phoebe Apperson Hearst, recognize and celebrate achievement in building effective family-school partnerships. The awards are presented to PTAs that have earned the National PTA School of Excellencedesignation and demonstrated outstanding success engaging families in student success and school improvements. The awards are the highest honor National PTA presents to effective family engagement. Become eligible by enrolling in the National PTA School of Excellence program between May 1 and October 1 at PTA.org/Excellence.