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With four young kids, I have certainly been in a PTA. What is a PTA, you ask? The PTA stands for the Parent Teacher Association at any elementary, or middle school around. This organization is all volunteer positions and gets parents inside the school to help with a variety of areas.
When I had my first child, I didn't participate actively in the PTA. I chose to go into the Kindergarten classroom and help the teacher once a week. I made copies, put together little books, and did whatever the teacher left for me to do. I enjoyed that. I also said I would help with teach luncheons, once a month, and would bring in a dessert, or whatever was listed on the need of that lunch — as each had a specific theme to follow. I moved schools with my kids because we built a house in a different school zone. So, off to my second school.
This time I joined the PTA and was all in. I started off in different positions — Clean and Green Committee — which was basically landscaping — and we put out mulch and planted flowers around the school and kept up with that. I helped with the carnival, and the cafeteria lunches ( those little hands can't open everything in their lunch). I helped with teacher lunches and was the coordinator for those lunches for two years. I organized the entire field day at the end of the year. I, personally, found it easier to do most things myself, as I knew they would get done and done right.
It seems as with any group, there are some interesting people inside these groups. You have the moms who are always exercising and show up in the athletic wear and bring healthy choices whenever they can. You have the working moms who want to help, but literally don't have the time, even though they tell you they can make time. Those moms grab things from the store at the last minute but are great for cases of water, when needed.
Then there are the stay at home moms who can help at the drop of a hat. You have moms that have little ones they want to tow along with them when they try to help. Then there are moms who are doing this as the next stop in their life — after the sorority life is over — and are planning on joining the Junior League in town. Those moms don't understand that when you say you are going to do something, you actually do it, and do it in the time frame that is needed.
We had a carnival and one new mom wanted to be in charge of the cake walk. Well, one hour until the carnival started, that mom was nowhere to be found and we all had to hurry to set up and get ready for the cake walk. Time is of the essence at some of these events. Every mom of every shape, status, life stage around is involved in some way in the students' lives. The PTA is happy to take them all. That being said, inside the PTA is definitely an unspoken hierarchy of parents who have been there for awhile and parents who are more involved by choice. To find the balance within is golden. The goal is for the school to run more smoothly and the children to have the best time of their lives in school.
Being on the PTA means that when the school needs you, you have the opportunity to help. Help is needed in the most easiest and hardest of ways but when everyone works together, the easier it is to accomplish.
The second PTA I joined applied for many state awards and won. I really thought we won because no other PTA has the time or need to get awards. The awards went from best newsletter, to best PTA.
There is no award for least fighting within the PTA. I have seen many fights within the PTA over minor things — but as with children, everyone wants to be valued for their time or their opinions. Some of the best things about the PTA is some great friendships you can develop. You have a mom or dad to call when you have a question you don't want to ask the teacher — you have a parent to call when homework seems impossible.
You have a parent that can help you through this strange idea of raising tiny humans. This group has a camaraderie that shows older parents have done this and done this well and some parents could improve on what they do. I have enjoyed my run with the PTA. I have held numerous positions and hope that my little bit of help does positive impact on the children at the school.
So, if you do have little children, get involved in the PTA: the good, the bad, and the volunteering.