A Message from JulieAcceptance Speech at the 2011 Annual Convention
I am completely honored and humbled; it will be my privilege to serve as the President of the Pennsylvania PTA for the next two years.
Like many of you, I have traveled a long and winding road through PTA. I went to my first PTA meeting…well, actually there wasn't a meeting because we didn't have a quorum…though I didn’t know that at the time. I had missed their first meeting of the year because my baby was sick, but I had heard that the PTA was thinking of running a contest for a new school t-shirt design. This sounded wonderful to me. I thought that maybe I could use some of my artistic talents that had been getting rusty.
Strangely enough, by the next PTA meeting, there was an old PTA committee revived that was called School Spirit, and I was the chair. Soon after I was volunteering regularly…making cookies shaped like the letters P, T, and A to raise money for enrichment programs and educational field trips for all the children of the school. I had caught the PTA fever and have never looked back.
PTA members are contagious! They’re unrelenting and unyielding in their quest to make every child's potential a reality! That is why I have always, and will always continue to, serve PTA.
I will do the best job that I can as your President, using all the knowledge and experience that I bring with me…that of a partner, a parent, a nurse, an artist and a past school board member. I can do it because I know that I have all of you to help me and guide me.
Many of you have been supporting me for years:
The Pennsylvania PTA board has been working very hard for the past year on a new Strategic Plan to continue the work of the mission of PTA: to be a voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities and a strong advocate for the education and well-being of every child.
Membership and Advocacy must be at the heart of all that we do. Without members, there is no PTA, and without PTA, who will speak up for children? We need to stop the loss of local units and members in Pennsylvania. There is strength in unity. Our voice becomes stronger when we speak together for every child with one voice! We’re going to need everyone who cares about children to raise their voices together to advocate for children. There is a lot going on in the legislation now that will affect our children: the decrease in educational funding that may cause losses to full day kindergarten programs, the arts, or enrichment programs, and possibly even teachers; vouchers that may funnel more money away from public schools; school districts relieved from mandates, which in turn may impact teacher quality, school nurse quality or school librarian quality. There are tough times ahead and very tough decisions to be made, but if PTA does speak up loudly, in unison, for all children, then our future will continue to be bright for our children. Together we can make a difference. As President Kennedy said: "Each time someone stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope." Let’s make a ripple!
As I perform the duties and responsibilities of my new position, I will have the aid of a wonderful new Board of Managers. Some are previous members and some are coming on as new members, but all possess an eagerness to serve Pennsylvania PTA and to do good things for children.
I have a past state leader at my side as my President-Elect. Debbie Dunstone just couldn’t stay away because she caught that same PTA fever and passion for children a long time ago.
Michele Morrow will remain close by my side as a consultant, working with the board to advance our outreach programs.
To help the board work on our advocacy efforts, among the consultants to the board will be two of the Pennsylvania PTA Past-Presidents, who were both superior at Legislation and Advocacy: Sandy Zelno and Caroline Allen. Sandy was President from 1992 until 1994. She led a successful coalition against vouchers and continues to work for children with the Education Law Center. Caroline Allen was your President from 2007 through 2009. She will continue to be our eyes and ears on the ground of Harrisburg. She, too, continues to work for children, families and schools through the Parent Information and Resource Center.
The board will also reap the benefits, and hopefully some non-dues revenue to support our extra efforts, by consulting with Colleen Davis. Colleen has a strong background in grant writing for non-profits organizations and will work closely with the new Resource Development Chair.
We all will work harder to engage and communicate with all our PTA families with the addition of a Family Engagement chair, dedicated to promoting the PTA National Standards for Family-School Partnerships, welcoming all families into the school community; Communicating effectively; Supporting student success; Speaking up for every child; Sharing power and Collaborating with communities. This new committee will also work to provide information, education and inspiration on practices and programs that enable family, school and community partners to help all students achieve success.
The board will also be working with two other professionals in the field of health, because even if we give children all that they need in their classrooms, we must not forget that a child who is sick, hungry or unhealthy may not be able to focus on learning. One-third of American youth are either overweight or obese and one-fourth are at risk of hunger. Past Pennsylvania PTA President who served from 2005 through 2007, Christine Munchak, will serve as a consultant to aid and guide us with her vast knowledge in the field of nutrition. Dr. MaryJane Hansen, a CRNP, will share her expert knowledge and passion for family medicine practices as they relate to keeping our children healthy. They will work with a new Health and Safety chair to inform, assist and educate local unit leaders, parents, teachers and other adults about health, nutrition and safety issues relevant to children and youth in home, school and community. The Health and Safety committee will strive to provide materials and information to educate members on children’s health, nutrition and safety issues and motivate all stakeholders to take action when needed on these important issues.
I cannot stress enough the important role that all of you play in the educational lives of the children who are our future! The board of managers and I will be looking to all of you to help us help kids. We serve you and need you to speak up to let your voices be heard and let us know what is going on in your schools and communities. We all need to network and communicate better so that we can come to a consensus and send clear and concise messages to our legislators. Our PTA history is long and honorable. We need continue the work of PTA like those that came before us. It is time to make some new ripples!
Can we do that? I strongly believe that TOGETHER WE CAN!