A PTO Leader's Heartfelt Letter on What It Means to Volunteer at School

Five Points Elementary School PTO in Springboro, OH

A PTO leader shares her candid thoughts on what she's observed (and learned) in her time serving on the PTO.

by Jenny Jackson



Jenny Jackson has served in a variety of positions on the PTO in the Springboro Ohio school district. As she reflected on her time spent on the PTO, Jenny felt moved to share her gratitude for all those who tirelessly volunteer for their school, and the collective impact we make across our individual school communities. Together, we are working hard to make a really big difference for teachers and students. Thank you, Jenny, for sharing your heartfelt words with the PTO Today community!

As we begin the homestretch to the final months of the school year, I have thought a lot about what it means to be a PTO member. As I reflected on that, I thought I would share a few things that have come to mind. I think for so many, PTO is often misunderstood. So here’s a few things that I’ve noticed in my time serving in PTO.

PTO is about servant leadership. It is not a position of status and popularity, but instead, it is the desire to partner with your child’s school, administrators, teachers, and staff in order to help make the school the best place that it can possibly be for all of the students. How it is displayed is often in many different ways. Allow me to mention a few.

It is the parents/guardians who show up every month to meet and plan events for the school and the families within it.

It is the Mom/Dad who drags their kids with them as they pass out school supply kits to classrooms before school begins.

It’s the parents who wake up at the crack of dawn to pick up the donuts to feed 500+ people for the bookfair and donut events, and then give of their time as they pass out the food.

PTO is the hours of stapling thousands of packets together for fundraisers, separating them out by classrooms, and delivering them to the teachers.

It is fundraising, when, let’s be honest….no one really wants to have to ask for money.

It is having Santa’s telephone number in your cell phone so that you can organize a time for him to come and spread some holiday cheer for the school.

PTO is organizing, purchasing and wrapping hundreds of gifts to bring joy to the classrooms.

It is counting money, balancing a checkbook, and writing checks for field trips and bus transportation…not too mention all the reimbursement forms and keeping up with every single receipt.

It is late nights of laminating, cutting out papers, copying things for the teachers, so they can have a head start on their day.

PTO is the parents/guardians who dress up in goofy outfits for fun runs and walkathons to get the kids excited and motivated.

It’s organizing and meticulously planning family opportunities outside of school, such as dances, splash nights, carnivals, proms, and trunk or treats to help make “core memories” as a school community and within individual families.

Oftentimes, it means having your car smell of salsa (or some other food) because as you were picking up a staff appreciation meal, it spilled all over the backseat of your car.

It means price checking (down to the cent) to ensure your money goes as far as it can for your child’s school.

PTO is often running back and forth to Sam’s Club and Costco to pick up supplies for student quarterly lunches and staff supplies.

It is meeting with city officials to get permits for new playground equipment and meeting the builder to sign off on a job completed.

PTO is picking up and delivering spirit wear outfits. It is more time and service than most can comprehend.

Being a part of PTO is an honor. It’s not a lunch club, but a place of service. To all of the people that I know serving in PTO, I see you. You are making a difference and an impact that will carry on even when your kids have moved on. Your work and your hours of giving do not go unnoticed. And despite it being a very thankless volunteer position, I am thankful for each of you.

Jenny Jackson holds a degree from the University of the Cumberlands. She is a wife to Mark, and a Mom to three beautiful children, Graham, Savannah and Ally. She was a teacher in Louisville, KY prior to having kids. Jenny has served in a variety of positions within PTO in the Springboro School District, located in Springboro, OH. For recreation she enjoys baking, hiking, spending time with her family and volunteering in her children's schools.

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