Kelly Schiffman

Past President
Southview Elementary PTO, Waconia, Minn.

 

Best known for: Encouraging students and parents to take part in school activities, particularly those with a community service component. Schiffman spearheaded Southview PTO’s Caring Heart program, which offers involvement opportunities within and beyond the school community.

Inspired to serve: The Caring Heart program was motivated by a Southview parent who passed away in December 2008 after a lengthy illness. “It was her inspiration several years ago to introduce [the international outreach program] Feed My Starving Children and get families involved,” Schiffman says. “We took her idea to all-new levels by starting a Caring Heart program to emphasize service above self and introduce children to an entire world of giving opportunities.”

Providing extra warmth: During Schiffman’s tenure, families participated in several food drives as well as campaigns for Locks of Love and St. Baldrick’s Foundation, organizations that aid cancer victims and support cancer research. The PTO “adopted” a nearby sister school by donating library books; they’ve also provided blankets and suitcases for foster children in transition.

Ambitious agenda: Schiffman served five years as PTO secretary and just finished a two-year term as president. She has three school-age sons ranging from 1st to 8th grades and works full time managing a hospital foundation annual fund. “I am also a hockey mom, so I schlep the kids around everywhere and try to volunteer when I can for the team,” she adds. This fall, she will be working on a program at her eldest son’s middle school to combat bullying, teasing, racial issues, and depression.

Motives at heart: Schiffman says a dynamic group of parents and a supportive principal, along with a focus on family values and togetherness, have helped involvement thrive. The PTO enjoys terrific turnout at events like the annual carnival, kindergarten mixer, garage sale, and scrapbooking extravaganza. Undoubtedly, Schiffman’s heartfelt message about getting involved is clicking with parents, along with her emphasis on using volunteers’ talents, not just their time. “I always tell parents that they don’t have to come to every meeting. Every minute counts and every parent has something unique they can offer.”