Founded in 1922, Oklahoma Parent Teacher Association (PTA) has served an important role in Oklahoma education, a role that continues today. With 67,446 members last year, there’s no denying that the PTA has the potential to make a huge impact in our schools.
New to office, Oklahoma PTA President volunteer Anna King has high hopes and new projects that will directly benefit students across the state. King emphasizes that PTA is an advocacy association, not solely a fundraising organization. “Fundraising helps our mission to advocate for our kids, but it is part of a bigger picture.” King explains.
Plans include the installment of project chair members to lead and direct new initiatives that are pertinent to the needs of our children today.
- A Health and Wellness Chair will lead concerned parents and take a stand for improving the overall health of our students, including nutrition and exercise. King has interest in the “farming school” model, which teaches students to grow their own vegetables at the school site. “We have so many schools that have land where they can plant their own gardens and teach students how to raise their own vegetables,” she said.
- A Male Involvement Chair will direct others in promoting ways that males can have a presence and make a difference in Oklahoma schools. (PTA isn’t just for moms!)
- A Youth Committee Chair will generate interest in youth involvement and the overall well-being of school climate. King suggests that when teens become involved early on, they have a better chance of becoming leaders.
- A Safety and Prevention Chair will address issues such as teenage drinking, drugs, bullying and other harmful activities.
Always a successful project, the PTA’s Reflections Program provides an opportunity for students to express themselves artistically through dance choreography, film production, literature, musical composition, photography and visual arts (drawing, painting, print making and collage). Students in all grades are encouraged to submit works in multiple categories. The 2011-2012 Reflections Program theme will be “Diversity Means…” Rules and deadlines vary from school to school, and typically there are specific guidelines for each category. Entrants compete at the local level, and selected winning entries move on to the state competition. State winners can enter the national competition at the annual convention, held next year in San Jose. The Reflections Program is an excellent avenue for students to grow socially, culturally and intellectually.
A Diversity Chair will continue to promote acceptance among our differences—including race, religion and types of homes that students come from (single parents, grandparents as caregivers, etc.).
Ready to take a stand? When the kiddos head back to school and that big stack of papers comes home the first week, don’t forget to complete your membership form and join your local PTA!
PTA fundraising projects are definitely important, especially in the middle of a budget crisis. However, there are other PTA advocacy roles that can be extremely beneficial to the students. Ideas to advocate for children/teens in our community:
- Book buddy. Volunteer to read regularly with a struggling reader.
- Mentor. Be a role model to an at-risk teen.
- Groundskeeper. Help organize beautification projects around your school and encourage student involvement.
- Library assistant. Help with shelving, organize author visits, read with students.
- Health advocate. Work with school administrators to promote healthy lifestyles.
- Hall monitor. Students in all grade levels benefit from the presence of adult supervision in the hallways.
- Classroom helper. Work with individual teachers to help with tedious tasks such as cutting, copying and laminating, allowing time for more instruction.
- Greeter. Welcome new students and help them adjust to the change of a new school.
It’s important to recognize that the needs of every school are unique. Work with school officials to determine the greatest area of need before deriving a plan of action.
Parent Teacher Association Mission Statement
The mission of the PTA is three-fold:
- To support and speak on behalf of children and youth in the schools, in the community, and before government agencies and other organizations that make decisions affecting children;
- To assist parents in developing the skills they need to raise and protect their children;
- To encourage parent and public involvement in the public schools of this nation.
Julie Dill is a National Board Certified Teacher from Oklahoma City and mother of two.