Small School: Parent Efforts Help School Achieve


PTO Today's 2009 Outstanding Parent Group at a Small School proves that it doesn't take a lot of people to accomplish great things.


The International Spanish Language Academy in Minnetonka, Minn., is a small school with big goals, and parent volunteers play a key role in reaching them. The 120-student Spanish-immersion school opened two years ago with an emphasis on bringing the language and culture to students. Beginning its work in the summer, the PTO hired a local Spanish teacher to introduce kindergartners to the language through games and activities. The PTO held a four-day community rummage sale, using the profits to bring teaching assistants to the school from Spanish-speaking countries. In response to a parent survey, the PTO offered after-school activities, such as drawing and Argentine dance. Family events, including Dia de los Muertos, focused on learning and building community. By the end of its second year of operation, the parent group had done a great job building a community, and in the process, had logged almost 1,200 volunteer hours.

What the judges loved: Leaders wrote vision and mission statements that dovetail nicely with the school's. As a result, the group kept its focus on parent involvement and educational programs.

Cool fact: The PTO's volunteer coordinator was selected as a runner-up for the Minnesota Vikings NFL Community Quarterback Award, and the group received a $1,000 donation in her honor.

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