The Great Adventure

"Discover all the new horizons, just waiting to be explored.
This is what we were created for....
Saddle up your horses, we've got a trail to blaze." **

Giddy-up, cowpokes!  I have just returned home energized and ready to dig in after a weekend at NY State PTA Summer Leadership Conference.  Added to that, it was a whole western theme, so I also have these images of cowboy hats and cowboy boots dancing in my head (so much for visions of sugarplums).

This year, I had my partner in crime with me.  She is the Thelma to my Louise.  In the past, we have travelled to New York City together for an eduction debate, and also attended New York State PTA Convention together.  When we travel together, the two of us will often brainstorm in such a way about PTA and what we can do better to accomplish more, and this trip was no different.  The two of us were in our natural element attending a weekend of leadership development and advocacy training with other like-minded PTA members.

Throughout the weekend, I attended workshops on effective communication and tips to engage your own board members, reviewed a list to keep our PTA unit in compliance and on-track, received training on proper tax document preparation (the numbers-nerd in me was completely intrigued!), and sat in on discussions on the current hot topics in education, as well as strategies to advocate more effectively throughout the year for our students.  To be clear, I've sat in on both of these last two workshops multiple times throughout the past year, but each time the dialogue is different, the ideas are fresh, and the conversation always turns in a new direction than before - which allows us to have these "lightbulb" moments that we can return with to our own school districts and take action on.

A few stand out items from this weekend:

  • If your PTA unit can effectively communicate with one another, you open the door for more creative ideas, and in the process, set your PTA unit on a course for longevity.
  • How are we furthering the mission of making every child's potential a reality and engaging our families in the education of their children if all we do is fundraise and "buy stuff?"  Advocacy takes action! 
  • Filing your unit's 990 for the IRS is not for the faint of heart, but is completely do-able. Stay strong treasurers, you can do it!! 
  • Proper training is absolutely essential.  I came away from this weekend with a multitude of ideas for implementation, and even more "I had no idea about that" moments that made me realize there is always an opportunity to learn something new!
  • The Every Student Succeeds Act is high on my radar right now, and parents still have A LOT of concerns and questions about education needs.  
    • We still want more communication about Common Core and making the standards more appropriate for our children,
    • we want our kids safe in school, 
    • we want all students to have access to technology, and
    • we have no patience for unfunded mandates being passed down to our schools.
There is still much work to be done.  However, after this Summer Leadership weekend, there is now an entire group of advocates who are empowered to move forward and do some really amazing things for every child.

NYS PTA Summer Leadership Conference 2016 -
Photo by Kyle Belokopitsky, Executive Director and PTA Rock Star.


**"Great Adventure", written by Steven Curtis Chapman and Geoff Moore