NHC Council of PTAs offers Strong Support to Families and Schools

by Denise Szaloky
President, New Hanover County Council of Parent Teacher Associations

The New Hanover County Council of Parent Teacher Associations is an organization whose mission is to support and speak on behalf of over 24,000 students in New Hanover County. As a part of the largest volunteer child advocacy organization in the nation, the NHC Council of PTAs reminds our community and its leaders of the organization’s continuing obligation to all children. Created as a partnership among parents, educators, students, community members, and other caring individuals, the Council actively works in schools and communities to improve the lives of all children.

The PTA Council is an umbrella organization made up of its members – 33 PTA units plus two school programs – across New Hanover County representing more than 7,700 members. Every year, the members vote on officers to run the organization, along with the appointed Board of Directors and committees on behalf of its members. Each PTA/PTSA unit provides one delegate to represent the unit’s interests at council meetings held throughout the year.

The Council helps all PTA units in New Hanover County keep parents informed on numerous topics including the following: school legislation, safety issues, character education, curriculum and events. Council board members work with other PTA boards to provide training, information, and resource assistance. Unit members participate in our Reflections Arts Program, volunteer hour recording, local and state legislative issues, parental involvement workshops, and Senior Scholarship Award.

The Council president and other officers represent the PTA in meetings with New Hanover County Schools and other community groups. The Council also sponsors several major events each year including: the Reflections Reception, County Volunteer Awards Banquet, and Meet & Greet opportunities with NHCS’ superintendent and senior staff, Board of Education, and the New Hanover County Commissioners.

This year, Community Council projects included a family book drive for homes in the Youth Enrichment Zone which resulted in over 4,000 books collected; a fall food drive which provided 4,036 pounds of food, or 3,401 meals, to needy families this holiday season; and the Pass-Along Cleat Program in partnership with the Cape Fear Soccer Club for wellness outreach held in February to get kids active this spring.

The NHC Council of PTAs was honored to have addressed all six Family Standards this year as we focused on maximizing every child’s educational potential.

Welcoming All Families into School Community – The Council continued to remain inclusive and diverse as we rotated monthly board meeting locations in different schools, attended unit meetings and events, provided training, installed officers and assisted with flyers, Reflections, and questions. The Council also promoted the FACT (Family and Community Together) Program, Emerging Leaders Conference, a high school principals call-in talk show, and other system events.

Communicating Effectively – The Council website, currently in its second year, was continuously updated and has received over 10,000 hits. The Council’s public service announcement, Communicating Effectively/Volunteering in Schools, was added to the parent page of our district’s website, broadcast on The Learning Network, included in bi-monthly e-mail newsletter blasts to units, principals, assistant principals, the Board of Education, superintendent and senior staff, and Facebook communications. After the Council’s September General Training Meeting, a networking session offered attendees the ability to exchange ideas from fundraising to school programs pertaining to family engagement and bringing families into the schools on all three levels – elementary, middle and high. Examples included Math, Bingo & Game Nights, health and wellness events, internet and social media safety awareness workshops.

Supporting Student Success – The Council was the proud host of the county Reflections Reception with community partner, Cameron Art Museum, offering a $1,000 Senior Scholarship Award; provided a fall and spring parent workshop on academics and instruction focusing on the new Common Core and Essential Standards, testing, Career Technical Education and virtual course opportunities; and offered a morning and evening Reflections Workshop for units.

Speaking Up for Every Child – The Council Board held quarterly meetings with the superintendent, wrote letters to the Legislators concerning additional calendar days, and letters of support for WHAT (Wilmington Health Access for Teens), providing support for school-based health care. New this year are Exceptional Children and Advocacy Committees meeting with parents to provide assistance for the promotion of area and state training, workshops for parents and teachers, and our sister PTA assistance to local units.

Sharing Power – The PTA Council has hosted three Meet & Greet opportunities. The first one was held in October with the superintendent and senior staff; the second was in November with the NHC Commissioners; and the third was held in March with the Board of Education. The Council president also attended the Superintendent’s Legislative Breakfast in January and has submitted this piece for the Superintendent’s Blog.

Collaborating with Community – Four community projects include food and book drives, the Pass-Along Cleat Program (see above information), community partnerships which were instrumental in Reflections, and our new initiative to include vendors at the upcoming Volunteer Banquet in May. The Council obtained a donation from an area Optimist Club for our $1,000 Senior Scholarship Award and units were given $50 in gift certificates from area Domino’s Pizza management.

With the support of committed volunteers, numerous community partners and over 125,000 volunteer hours (recorded as of February 1, 2012), the NHC Council of PTAs has been able to meet and exceed its goals of the six Family Standards by improving the educational awareness and benefits for the students and families while embracing everychild.onevoice. After all, it’s all about the children!

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