Challenge accepted! Concrete steps for a great start to the school year


What Should I Say?

Make this sample speech script your own by filling in the details specific to your school and your group. Download the script and speech tips from the File Exchange.

Welcome to the ABC Elementary Open House Night! I’m Mary Brown, and I’m president of the ABC Elementary PTO.

Along with the rest of our PTO board, I’d like to thank you for being here tonight. Parents are so important to a school’s success, and the PTO is a key way that parents can support our school.

Now, by “support,” I’m not just talking about fundraising. Yes, we raise money for library materials, field trips, and much more, and you’ll be hearing more from us about that as the school year gets under way. But we also organize great family events like the fall festival and reading night. And we support school staff members with our grant program and staff appreciation efforts.

Here are just a few of the highlights from last school year, made possible in part by PTO volunteers:

  • the annual 3rd grade field trip to the Museum of Science
  • snacks provided for more than 270 students during testing week
  • two book fairs, during which hundreds of books went home with students and onto the shelves of our school library
  • a family reading night with the mayor and police chief serving as celebrity readers
  • new audio equipment installed for use in school assemblies and student performances
  • new classroom rugs for all preK through 1st grade teachers
  • a reception for graduating 5th graders and their families

If you’re looking for a way to get involved at school, we can help. We have moms, dads, grandparents, and other family and community members who help out. Our volunteers are in the classroom but also at home. Any amount of time you can give is great, whether it’s two hours a year or two hours a week. Whatever works best for you, we can make it work!

Before you leave, please pick up this handout [hold up the handout or flyer] at our back-to-school table in the hallway—it has information on how you can get involved in the PTO and sign up for our email list. This way, we can keep you informed about events and volunteer opportunities. And don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook, too.

Thanks again for being here tonight. I look forward to getting to know you this school year!

Download the script and speech tips from the File Exchange


6 Tips for a Great Speech

Think about your message. Talk about what your group does to support the school. Avoid giving the impression that you’re all about fundraising.

Reassure parents. Some moms and dads may be worried that if they volunteer, you’ll ask for too much of their time. Encourage parents to volunteer, but don’t beg.

Keep it short. Time your talk and keep it to five minutes or less.

Practice your speech. Run through it a few times in advance, even if it’s by delivering the speech to your kids or your cat.

Start off with an easy question that parents can answer with a show of hands, such as “How many of you are new to the school?” This will give you a chance to breathe before you launch into your speech.

Don’t worry about messing up. Parents are there to get information, not judge you on your public speaking skills. Help ease your nerves by carrying a note card with your key points on it in case you need to jog your memory.

Originally posted in 2016 and updated regularly.