If you’ve just been elected president of your parent group, you are probably excited and a little stressed. Now that it’s official, you may have a few doubts that you can do a job. But we have good news: You are likely better prepared than you think you are, and we are here to help with tons of resources for new presidents!
So, take a deep breath and consider taking care of these five tasks:
1. Connect with the outgoing president. Remember it’s the end of the school year and she’s probably very busy. So if she doesn’t have much time for you, don’t take it personally. Just make sure you take care of the must-do items, like getting your name on the bank account. Also, ask if there are any pending contracts for fall fundraisers that need to be processed.
2. Ask the outgoing president and other departing board members to meet with you and your new team when school wraps up. Prepare a list of questions—and don’t worry about sounding silly. Ask really basic questions, like what the group should and shouldn’t spend money on. For instance, does the group have a policy for helping families in emergency situations, such as when a parent is hospitalized? You’d be surprised how often this situation can come up and how difficult it can be to respond if there’s no policy in place.
3. Request that the outgoing team share the documents they have. Be specific. Ask for volunteer contact information, copies of flyers and letters, vendor contacts, and basic instructions on how to run an event and manage a team of volunteers.
If you’re lucky, you’ll be taking over for an organized group that will hand you binders with information on each program. But it isn’t uncommon to take the reins from a group that doesn’t want to share much (or doesn’t have much to share). If that’s the case, don’t panic. We have what you need.
Say, for example, you have no idea what kind of family event you should do to kick off the 2015-16 school year. Do a search on “family event” on ptotoday.com and the first article that pops up is 20 Fun Family Events. Chances are, you’ll find an idea in there.
You can then use our File Exchange to find free customizable documents that you can use to create flyers, letters to parents, requests for donations, and thank-you notes.
We even have a Clip Art Gallery with hundreds of images you can download and use for free!
4. Ask your new team to meet in early summer so you can spend a little time together. Start building relationships. Talk about the big-picture issues, like what you want your group to achieve in the next school year. Take the time to review any immediate business items. For example, did the old group have a welcome packet for new families? If not, you can make that a summer project with the help of our article “How To Create a Welcome Packet.’’
5. Meet with the principal before the school year ends. Keep this meeting light. Don’t start by asking the principal what you need from her; rather, find out what she thinks of your group and what she sees as the role of the PTO at your school. If you aren’t sure how to make that first connection with the principal, read “Make the Principal Your Partner.”
Oh, and don't forget to breathe!