Around the time I signed up my son for the library’s summer reading program, I got my own summer reading assignment: a portion of the hundreds of entries we received in this year’s National Parent Group of the Year search.

There are a few things I’ll take away from the entries I read this year, and they’re good lessons to share with my son, too. First, you don’t have to be big to do big things. Don’t let your lack of funds or volunteer power, or the simple fact that you’re a beginner, keep you from dreaming big and acting on those dreams. Believe in yourself.

Next—and this is a big one—there will be many things you can’t control in life, but you can control how you respond to them. If you follow the news, it’s easy to become discouraged by the problems schools face, like state budget cuts and increased child poverty. The flip side of that bad news is that across the country, PTOs and PTAs are tackling these problems head-on. In this year’s treasure trove of entries, we found story after story of parent groups organizing school uniform giveaways, replacing dangerously outdated playground equipment, and coming up with creative solutions to problems.

Finally, never underestimate your school’s parents. When they see a problem, they start looking for a solution. You’ll be amazed at what a group of dedicated parents can accomplish for their children. I know I am.

Spread the word—schools thrive because of hard-working parent groups