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Don't Do It! - PTO Today

...Principals can often serve as a sounding board to evaluate ideas or as a neutral party in disagreements. Show your principal you value his perspective. Don’t give the impression that your group is just about fundraising. Although fundraising is essential for parent groups, it’s not the main focus. Make your first communication with parents about involvement, not fundraising. Hold a free family event during the first few weeks of school, like a kickoff picnic or ice-cream social, to put the focus on having fun and building friendships. Plan some curriculum-related events, like a math and science night or a reading challenge. Try to keep the number of fundraisers you run to a minimum, and be sure to communicate to parents how the profits benefit students. Make parent involvement a priority—get our top 10 tips for success GET FREE TIPS Don’t get off on the wrong foot with teachers. Teachers are supportive of most parent group efforts, but PTOs often ask a lot from them (like dist...

More 2016 Parent Group of the Year Winners - PTO Today

...Annual budget $20,000, 186 students Despite being at a small school, the Riverdale Elementary PTO organizes an impressive number of events, including a winter dance (top), a pizza party on the playground, an ice cream social, a meeting for 1st grade parents, a rummage sale, and a spring carnival. Outstanding Academics & Enrichment Mount Hebron Middle School PTA, Montclair, N.J. Annual budget $7,000 to $10,000, 640 students The STEM magnet school pushed students to get creative with a Poetry Slam. A poet-in-residence taught the entire school about the history of poetry and the tradition of poetry slams, and each student wrote poems in class. 45-minute assemblies for each classroom on poetry and poetry readings 3 workshops where students worked on their performances 40-plus student poets giving spoken-word performances 16 prizes awarded by a panel of judges Outstanding Outreach to a Diverse School Community Thomas Edison Language Institute PTA, Sacramento, Calif. Annual budget $25,000,...

Starry, Starry Night - PTO Today

...The parent group took over the annual Star Party from school staff several years ago and turned it into a can’t-miss event. Held in fall and drawing more than 300 people, the Star Party is a night of science and astronomy fun for families. With a budget of $700, the free event includes mobile planetarium shows, telescope viewings, arts and crafts, snacks, and science experiments. Kid-friendly science experiments and a fun school event for the whole family GET FREE KIT “We partner with local astronomers who live in the area and can bring telescopes,” says Angela Shambarger, president of the districtwide PTO. “If the weather cooperates, the kids can see Jupiter, the phase of the moon, or any other planet that is visible that time of the year.” While some students are using the telescopes, others attend shows in the gymnasium held inside an inflatable planetarium; the shows are arranged by a company that specializes in astronomy and science education. Students can take agility...

My Foolproof Escape Route - PTO Today

...I put my name down for the Halloween party. Oh, and the holiday shop (cash register again). And I signed up for a bunch more. Then life crowded in. I accepted a new job. I had a major family function to plan, and I took on a challenge that involved weekly classes and a year’s study. My dog was edging toward the end of her days, which made me realize that 15 years of my own life had flashed by. I spent most of the year inside my own head, mulling, worrying, looking back, and preparing for what was to come. Every once in awhile, I’d emerge, look around, and be surprised to find myself in the present. Then the thoughts would start again, drawing my attention back inward. Meanwhile, the volunteer requests kept popping into my email box. My head was so cluttered, I couldn’t bear to take on one more thing. So I turned down—or worse, ignored—most of them. Had I made room for the book fair or the holiday shop, I would have found what I was craving: a brief vacation from myself. When...

Embrace Change While Honoring Group Traditions - PTO Today

...However, says president Paul Heyburn, “Some loved the party and wanted to have it.” The solution was to create a large committee of more than 20 people, with invitations to join sent to those who were unhappy with the proposed change. That committee planned the event, which was smaller but still successful, and anyone with objections could voice their suggestions. When a change is proposed, be sure to give a compelling reason. At Charles A. Bernazzani Elementary in Quincy, Mass., the PTO decided to cap participation—due to safety concerns and room capacity—for an increasingly popular event: the annual spring dance. A discussion of the change at a PTO meeting did not elicit any objections, but when notices were sent home and the tickets sold out quickly, parents ranted on Facebook and contacted the principal. After much discussion and consideration of alternatives, the PTO held its position, emphasizing that safety was paramount. “We had a consistent message and stuck with th...

Help for Your Fun Run - PTO Today

...After the run, there was a dance party and DJ. “We have a long history of a running club that happens every spring and decided to host a glow run as a celebration of our club training,” says Marcey Dodd, a parent volunteer and mom of a Crozet 3rd grader and 1st grader. “Our goal was not to lose money our first year, and we made money from community sponsors who put ads on the back of T-shirts.” Like Crozet Elementary, the Columbia El­ementary PTO in Brooklyn, Mich., wanted to add some color to their fun run. Their annual event is titled Keep the Arts Running. “Our main objective through the PTO is to pay for our art program,” says past PTO president Gretchen Speidel. “We pay the salary of the art teacher and provide a stipend for materials.” The Columbia PTO decided to add the color component to boost participation. For a $20 regis­tration fee, students received a white T-shirt, a bottle of water, and a few other donated items. The event was also open to the communit...

Picking the Best Fundraiser for Your Group - PTO Today

...If you need $2,000 for the graduation party, then a dedicated product sale with a just-right product for the time (think wreaths at Christmas or flowers for Mother’s Day or chocolate for Easter) can be a strategic choice and relatively easy to execute and promote. You should also consistently take the “mood” of your parent community into account. If there’s a loud murmur about being tired of sales or there’s a huge movement around healthy habits, then maybe a walkathon or road race should be on your radar. It’s all about the right choice at the right time for the right goals, just for your group. You’ll have the same questions about give-back nights at local restaurants and home parties that will return 15 percent of sales to your school or even box tops and labels. All are good fits for some groups and not such good fits for others. Are your parents burned out because you’re asking for their help and attention every week? In that case, even these seemingly no-brainer...

A Play's the Thing - PTO Today

...Fiddler on the Roof , The Sound of Music , and The King and I have multiple family and party scenes with lots of youngsters. And children make ideal munchkins for The Wizard of Oz . Choosing a family-friendly story also makes the evening suitable for all ages to attend. Planning Is Key The Amherst PTA began with smaller productions, but its current musicals demand more financial and logistical organization from everyone involved. Because the producer organizes key elements—props, costumes, and sets—the PTA splits the role among several people. “We also encourage job-sharing if people feel overwhelmed or simply can’t commit the time needed to a specific role,” Desborough adds. Amherst volunteers typically start working on a show more than a year ahead of time, but they’ve found that productions follow the same general schedule year to year. A rough timeline for performances held the first week of April looks something like this: 15 months in advance: Choose play and secure...

Teacher Appreciation Luncheon Themes and Ideas - PTO Today

...Or leave them right-side up and pile the party favors around the brim. Fiesta-theme flyer Fiesta-theme invitation Fiesta-theme table tent Fiesta-theme letter Italian Serve deep-dish pizza, stuffed shells, lasagna, and eggplant parmigiana. Serve on red-and-white-checked tablecloths and play music by Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin. Asian Buffet An Asian-inspired buffet is a tasty and easy way to say thanks. Decorate with paper lanterns or folded origami and serve food from local Asian restaurant, or ask volunteers to donate a variety of stir-fried dishes. Offer wooden chopsticks with the meal, and decorate the tables with red and gold tablecloths, paper plates, and napkins. 50+ teacher appreciation ideas, plus planning tools, flyers, and more GET FREE IDEAS A Little Pampering Spa Luncheon Ask a local spa to come in and do mini massages. You could coordinate goody bags with small, inexpensive items that would make your teachers feel pampered. For lunch, provide a salad bar or deli trays. S...

Creating a School Directory - PTO Today

...“What if your son wanted to have a play date with a friend in their class, but you didn’t know their phone number? What if your child forgot their spelling words and needed to call a friend for homework help? How about if you were planning a party for your child and needed to know addresses in order to send out invitations?” The directory is also helpful when new families move to the district. “It helps them feel welcome and hopefully invites them to participate in school and PTO activities,” Burns says. Having contact information at your fingertips helps busy families stay connected. Some moms put the directory in their purse. Others keep one in the car and one in the house. Here are some tips to make the creation of your directory as painless as possible. Form a Team Recruit one or two volunteers to be in charge of the directory. This is not a job that should fall to the president or another officer. If you had a directory in the past, talk about what worked well and what...