Outstanding Major Project or Program

Matsunaga Elementary School/Longview School PTA, Germantown, Md.
Annual Budget $80,000
930 Students

What the Judges Loved
This large school previously had field day activities scheduled over a week to accommodate all grades. At the principal’s request, the PTA revamped the weeklong event into a single day. Leaders worked with local government agencies and businesses to secure transportation, activity locations, and food. The off-site field day required busing students and setting up a health room as well as a temporary school office. The highly organized and massive project had 150 parent volunteers and help from many staff members. Among the impressive feats the PTA pulled off was providing lunch for 1200 people at once!

Outstanding Group at a Small School

Unadilla (N.Y.) Elementary PTO
Annual Budget $42,000 (including funds raised for playground project)
193 Students

What the Judges Loved
The PTO at Unadilla Elementary had two big goals for the year: to increase parent involvement on all levels and to replace the school’s aging playground equipment. After moving meeting times to evenings, serving a light dinner, and recruiting high schoolers to babysit, meeting attendance improved. The playground project and an effort to create a yearbook built excitement. Parent volunteers in the rural community supported a slate of family events and worked to raise $32,000 for the playground in just eight months. The PTO capped off the year with a playground reopening and carnival.

Outstanding Group at a Private or Parochial School

Cascade Summit Montessori PTO, West Linn, Ore.
Annual Budget $8,300
112 Students

What the Judges Loved

After Cascade Summit’s enrollment dropped from 62 to 32 students, the PTO formed in spring 2014 to help revive the private school. The PTO painted the inside of the building to make it more inviting and created a database of parent emails to improve communications. It asked parents to serve as room parents, worked to build school spirit, and took on a playground renovation project. A series of events, including coffee hours for parents, a Mother’s Day tea, and root beers with Dad, helped build a sense of community. By spring 2015, the school had 112 students registered for the fall.

Outstanding Community Service Project

Medill Elementary PTO, Lancaster, Ohio
Annual Budget $10,000-plus
420 Students

What the Judges Loved
The Medill Elementary PTO excelled at one of the things PTOs do best—building support for a cause. The PTO joined other local organizations to raise money to help a school family purchase a wheelchair-accessible van. The van made it much easier to transport two Medill students with muscular dystrophy together with their family members. With a twist on the “pay it forward” concept, the PTO named the campaign Pop It Forward and sold popcorn to students. In addition to helping out a member of their own school community, the PTO sent a tangible message to kids about the importance of reaching out to others less fortunate.

Outstanding Family Event

White Bear Lake (Minn.) Early Childhood PTA
Annual Budget $11,000
400 Students

What the Judges Loved
This early childhood PTA extends its longtime nature-theme spring event to the entire community with the idea of making family memories. Through a variety of indoor and outdoor activities, the low-cost event provides an opportunity for families to spend quality time enjoying nature and each other. Activities at the spring event included a scavenger hunt, a nature talk, games, and a slightly messy craft. Local scouts set up a camp site and helped run the activities. The cost for this educational event was just $2 and the donation of a food item for a local food bank.

Outstanding Academics & Enrichment

Birch Meadow Elementary PTO, Reading, Mass.
Annual Budget $39,000
390 Students

What the Judges Loved
The Birch Meadow PTO’s monthlong Read Across America campaign resulted in almost 50 percent more minutes read by students over the previous year. The multifaceted program included fun activities to get kids excited. A book swap, dress-up days, art contest, and 5th grade music video are just a few of them. By moving to an online program to log minutes, the group was able to give reports to teachers that showed trends in the students’ reading habits and the most popular books read. Students logged in to track their own minutes, and this also provided an opportunity for 5th graders to help younger students who had trouble using the system.