When I was a child, I have memories of my mom being involved in my school PTA. Of course being a kid, I never fully grasped what PTA did for my school (other than the killer baked goods my mom would make for the cake walk). I am now all grown up and have two kids of my own. I now fully understand the work that my PTA does for my child's school.
I have been a PTA member at my children's school and have volunteered in various ways over the years. I have had some great (and some not-so-great) experiences along the way with PTA and I am sure my experiences (both positive and negative) are not unique.
As a child safety educator who speaks to more than 70 PTAs in the Puget Sound area and beyond, I get the unique opportunity to see how many local PTAs operate. That experience had helped me see what works (and what doesn't) when it comes to getting parents to attend PTA meetings. Part of the issue with PTA is that not everyone understands what PTA does or negative views of PTA may keep them away. The song "Harper Valley PTA" is an anthem for that negativity. Yet PTAs provide many valuable and needed services for children, such as supplies, classroom equipment, art programs, tutoring and legislative advocacy for students.
When I was asked to come speak at the 116th National PTA convention, I jumped at the chance. It was a great opportunity to see and experience the interesting work that PTA does for kids and communities on a national scale. As I arrived at the National PTA convention on Wednesday, in San Jose, Calif., I was not disappointed. I was greeted with sunny skies and shining personalities. The energy was palpable.
After delivering my presentation to PTA members yesterday, I spent the rest of the day talking with different delegates from PTA's across the USA and mingling with the great vendors and sponsors. There was everything from lice removal vendors (three of them!) to sophisticated Internet and cell phone monitoring services. However, the most fun was hanging out on the couches at the Patch booth. The interactive computers were great as were the synchronized wall of iPads. Patch editors got to spend time connecting with the individual PTA community members.
It is evident from the attendees that the dedication and work that these PTA volunteers do for their schools is impressive. There are of course politics and issues to work through but at the heart of it, PTA is doing a lot for great work kids.
Redmond resident Kim Estes is the founder of Savvy Parents Safe Kids. Kim is currently attending the National PTA convention in San Jose, Calif., where she taught the workshop "7 Secrets to Drawing Huge Crowds to Your PTA Meetings" with her collegue, from Birds and Bees and Kids. Kim and Amy's secrets must have worked... their PTA meeting was packed!