2017 President's Speech given by Bonita Allen at Convention 2017
Hello fellow PTA Members,
During Convention Jim Accomando, the National PTA President, shared our PTA Mission, the overall purpose of PTA, with us. This is:
To make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children.
During Jim's workshop we talked about what those words actually mean to us individually. I started volunteering in the classroom when my oldest daughter, Xia, was in Head Start. Head Start is a wonderful program with a very large parent and family engagement component. They trained me well. I learned that I could use my voice and work with other families and the community to make life better for all of our children. When I volunteered in the classroom, other kids asked "Xia's Mom, can you help me too?" This lead to an "aha moment" as Oprah calls it. I clearly realized the difference that I - and each of us - can make to help every child reach their full potential. Flash forward 25 years, and here I am. So you see, the PTA mission resonated through my life experiences long before I became a PTA member. I already had a passion for the purpose of PTA, and when my daughter Ellie's school became a PTA, of course I joined!
The theme of this Convention is 'Building Bridges' and here are 3 examples: building partnership bridges, building communication bridges, and building advocacy bridges.
First, let's talk about partnership. Of course, the family-school-community partnership, with the student at the center, is at the core of PTA. All of the Pennsylvania PTA presidents who came before me have helped to establish, continue and strengthen those partnerships. My predecessor, Debbie Munson, helped to reestablish partnerships with several organizations. And I am happy to have assisted Debbie in reestablishing our partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Education. During Convention's General Meeting I keynote address, Ron Cowell, President of the Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC), reminded us that relationship building results in influence and credibility. Working together we can expand both by inviting even more people and groups to share our mission and to join us at the table. Further developing innovative, creative and unique partnerships will help our Pennsylvania PTA down to our local units, grow and expand our ability to make a difference in the lives of children and families.
Next, let's talk about building communication bridges and correcting misperceptions. Jim Accomando said in the latest issue of Our Children magazine, "The more people who know about PTA the better." What may first come to mind for Pennsylvania legislators or education policymakers when they think of PTA? The power of the voice of more than 40,000 PTA members in Pennsylvania? The power of the voice of almost 4 million PTA members nationwide? If not, perhaps that legislator or education policymaker does not know PTA! What may first come to mind for principals and administrators in Pennsylvania when they think of PTA? Do they think about PTAs and schools working together to enrich the educational experience and overall well-being for all students? Do they think about a 'School of Excellence' where families feel welcomed and empowered to support student success, and where PTA is a key partner for continuous school improvement? If not, perhaps that principal or administrator does not know PTA! Increased awareness is essential!
And finally, let's talk about building advocacy bridges. Did you know that support, encouragement and promotion are synonyms for advocacy? Advocacy happens every day in every way. When you take your child to the doctor and you ask questions, that's advocacy. When you read a label in a grocery store, checking the ingredients, that's advocacy. When you plan healthy meals for your family, that's advocacy. Ron Cowell challenged us to tell our powerful stories, to be engaged, to be well informed about issues, to use our voices to be effective advocates, to make a commitment collectively to encourage other people to use their voices, and to take action on behalf of our children, families and communities.
Ron also invited us to stretch our imaginations. Here is my invitation to the newly elected members of the Pennsylvania PTA Board of Managers, to all of you current PTA leaders and members, and to potential future PTA leaders and members (which includes everyone else). I ask you to share my vision and to embrace innovation and creativity in our actions and help Pennsylvania PTA to meet the challenges of relevance and inclusion. Working together we can embrace systems and ideas that support being more relevant to our members. We can welcome and accept more inclusive opportunities to develop partnerships that help everyone across the state (parents, families, teachers, administrators, communities, organizations and businesses) to know PTA: 40,000 STONG and GROWING!
Thank you for the faith and trust you have shown in selecting me to serve as President of the Pennsylvania PTA for the next two years. I also want to thank my friends and family: the friends who have encouraged and supported me; my daughters who (mostly) graciously endured being children who had an activist parent; and my husband who picked up all the slack (cooking, grocery shopping, getting kids up for school) as I traveled in my job and in my volunteer roles.
Thank you all. I look forward to working together!
2017 Report as given by outgoing President Debbie Munson at Convention 2017
It is now my honor and duty to present the Report of the President. This report is given so all members are informed of what the President and the Board of Managers are have done to further the Mission of PTA and to continue the long history of advocating for children. I have asked the door aides to give you a sheet listing many of my report, but I would like to let you know about some of the major accomplishments for this year. We were fortunate to receive a ten thousand dollar grant from National PTA, as part of a Gates Foundation grant. Of course, as with any grant, there were a few strings attached, and Beth Yenis and Bonita and I have really been building bridges and getting to know each other quite well through all of our meetings and teleconferences!
I hope you have all heard about the advocacy trainings we have been able to bring to different areas of Pennsylvania, all because of this grant. We still have a few more scheduled, so if you haven’t attended one yet, there is still time! They are all free (my favorite word!) and open to anyone interested in child advocacy. You don’t even have to be a member of PTA!
We received a grant for $5000 from Pennsylvania Council on the Arts to support the arts during convention and the Reflections Awards Program. The State Reflections Awards Luncheon was held in State College, PA in April with 312 in attendance.
AIM sponsored Convention 2016 and 2017 and we secured several sponsors for the PTA in Pennsylvania and President’s mailings. So you see. We are working to increase our no-dues revenue to better serve our members.
I would like to include a few other highlights of this past year.
After more than 50 years, a complete bylaws revision was approved during Convention 2016.
I worked with Jim Thomasell at National PTA, and Erica at California PTA – talk about a long bridge! - to reinstate our units who had lost their 501(c)(3) status.
After several years of having units that had their status revoked, as of today, all Pennsylvania PTAs are now reinstated as 501 (c)(3) organizations.
I also had some paperwork to take care of: updating the Articles of Incorporation to reflect the new NPTA purposes that were approved at National Convention in Orlando and filing for state sales tax exemption.
The standing rules for state board of managers as well as the local and council model bylaws were also revised.
To make chartering new units more efficient, a bylaws model for new units was approved.
Pennsylvania PTA purchased webinar capabilities to enable Pennsylvania PTA to reach out to the local and council units with training webinars.
The board of managers approved the position statements entitled “Mandatory (Compulsory) Age to Enter School in Pennsylvania” and “Random Drug Testing”. I do hope you take the time to read these very important statements.
And a huge thanks to the hard work of The Legislation and Advocacy Committee with Maryann Kolbeck acting as their advisor, the Resolutions book is now completely and for the first time in a very long time up-to-date.
The board of managers approved procedures for PTA Affiliates Not in Compliance With PTA Standards of Affiliation as Required to be a “PTA In Good Standing” So that there is a uniform, written policy to assist units needing help with being in compliance.
With Julie stating that we needed an easier way for the board to understand the budget amendments, and because I served as a past Pennsylvania PTA Treasurer, we developed an easy to understand template for use during Pennsylvania PTA Board of Managers Meetings for budget amendments. The template was approved by the Board of Managers and therefore, will continue to be used to help assist board members
Several of items were adjusted to coincide with the new convention date in October.
The membership cards were designed with the Pennsylvania PTA’s website sign-in information on the back and National PTA’s website sign-in information on the front for easy access for our members.
It was not all good news, but all hurdles were handled in a timely manner and always tackled with responsibility and quick response. We made repairs at the state office including resurfacing the parking lot, cutting trees in the front yard and installing new sewer pipes and approved the purchase and installed storm doors on the front of the state office.
We purchased a new dehumidifier, a new lap top and desk top computer for the state office as well as an updated QuickBooks program.
As President, I always tried to be fiscally responsible, balancing the need to represent Pennsylvania PTA throughout the state and at National PTA events, with the need to complete my duties as President. I thank all of you for your support these past 2 and a half years and truly appreciate all the time, effort and love you put into this wonderful association. There is much more of our efforts building bridges with organizations and local units in the report that was given to you. I would truly appreciate it if you would take the time to read the Report and I thank you for electing me to serve as the President of Pennsylvania PTA. It’s been an honor.
The following report is in addition to the above report and was given to the convention dlelgates:
Attended state president/state president elect training given by National PTA
Streamlined expense report process by sending them directly to the state office and scanned to the treasurer
Continued to work with the Coalition for Fair Education Funding
Attended NPTA Legislative Conference and Hill visits
Continued to work with Pennsylvania Arts Education Network
Attended State Treasurers call from NPTA
Attended a training on Common Core Standards at National PTA Convention
Attended Membership teleconferences by NPTA
Agreed to sit on the Teacher Retention Committee with Ron Cowell of EPLC
Attended Strengthen Family Leadership teleconference
Reworked the convention timeline and Awards due dates to coincide with the fall convention date
Approved Random Drug Testing position paper and Mandatory Age to Enter School in Pennsylvania position paper
Purchased webinar capabilities
Had exhibit tables at Back to School Expo in Erie, OCDEL Conference and PAEN Conference to try to spread the word on PTA
Attended the NPTA Pilot Membership call
Attended NPTA Convention in Orlando
Developed training brochures for inclusion in president’s mailings
Sent our Standards of Affiliation Documents to NPTA
Hired a new attorney to represent PA PTA as needed
Attended ESSA teleconferences by NPTA
Set up the State Reflections Awards Luncheon in State College, PA in April with 312 in attendance
Attended Bullying Prevention webinars
Hired a consultant to help grow PA PTA
Attended PAEN Conference and PASYDN Retreat
Attended teleconference with Action for Healthy Kids and PSAYDN
Attended PA Department of Education ESSA Presentation in Erie
Judged entries for PSAYDN
Attended the 2017 NPTA Legislative Conference and Hill visits
Attended NPTA webinar on membership reporting
PA PTA was represented at the meeting with the Governor’s wife on school breakfast program.
Attended weekly ESSA team teleconferences for the NPTA Gates Grant
Attended weekly ESSA leadership teleconferences for the NPTA Gates Grant
Attended PANO webinar
Worked with the PA School Librarians Association to keep librarians in schools
Had Leadership Development during Convention weekend on Friday
Updated the School Board Candidates’ forum booklet
Worked with the DEPT of Ed to set up listening tours for the ESSA State Plan
Updated the Keystone PTA Bylaws
Sent a survey to members for their opinions
Submitted by Debbie Munson, Octocber 21, 2017