Many parents say “no way” when contemplating involvement with their school’s parent advisory organization. Between extra curriculars, homework and squeezing in coveted family time each night, adding one more thing to the schedule seems rather daunting.
There are those who shy away from joining a PTO/PTA simply because scenes of “Mean Girls” scroll through their heads as they envision board meetings filled with gossip and griping. Needless to say, too often these parent-lead organizations get a bad rep.
Yet, there are those who testify to the contrary. Tanya Burbank, treasurer for the Campus Parent Advisory (CPA) committee – Kid’s Community College charter school’s version of a PTA – is one such mom. Having moved to Florida a few years ago, she viewed joining the CPA, among other reasons, as a social opportunity for her and her family. “I’ve established great relationships with the staff, teachers, students and parents,” she says, crediting her involvement on the board.
Melissa Klyce, vice president of business for SunRidge Elementary School’s PTO, echoes that sentiment. “I love that I can walk down the hall of the school and know the students and teachers,” she says. “I love that students come up and give me a hug when I’m there volunteering.”
Then there are those who fear they are taking on an unpaid, full-time job if they join the PTA. Similar to many parents, Klyce and Burbank keep a full schedule. Klyce, of Winter Garden, works part time, has two daughters who are heavily involved in athletics, and is an avid marathoner. Even though it’s another commitment, she believes PTO involvement enhances the school experience for her daughters and the other students. The biggest misconception she hears: Joining the PTO will suck up your free time. “But, as more people get involved, the workload becomes less for everyone,” she says.
Burbank, of Ocoee, is a business owner and a mom of four. With a new baby at home and an equally busy husband, she also does not have white space to give. She hears others claim involvement with the CPA would be too big a time commitment. To that, she says, “It is a big commitment. But, being on the board is really what you are able to do and the time you are able to give. Each member of our board brings something different to the table. Some parents are able to be there for everything, while others can only commit to a few events and meetings… and that works.”
According to the national PTO website, researchers report consistently “that children with parents involved in their education and schools earn better grades and score higher on tests. Letting a child know you care and are invested enough to be involved in his day-to-day school life sends a clear message about the value of school and education.”
Beyond fundraising and finance, involvement in your school’s parent advisory organization offers the opportunity for more time with your kids during and after school hours, a broader understanding of school functioning, and a deeper sense of personal community within your school.