Stay involved with our schools through PTO’s

From the Sentinel:

Early last week, Rebecca Viehman could have been found buzzing around the office at Monroe Elementary School.

Although the school year had only just begun, Viehman was already busy checking mail, beginning work on fundraisers and organizing Club Tuesday, an after-school program she started last year that is run by the school’s teachers and supported by the PTO.

“I am here every day,” Viehman said.

But, she’s not a teacher or a staff member.

Viehman is the school’s PTO president.

Like any PTO (Parent Teacher Organization), Monroe’s is made of officers and committees who, with the help of parent volunteers, raise funds and sponsor school events, provide input to the school and support students and teachers to bridge the gap between home and school.

“It forms a partnership between home and school. Parents learn (the program),” said Bill Creps, principal of Monroe Elementary School. “It creates a bridge between us and them.”

Volunteers wanted

About two years ago, the PTO at LeTort Elementary School in the Carlisle Area School District was nearly defunct, current president Jessica Case said. She attributes the decline to a high turnover of principals and a somewhat transient school population, she said.

But, “this year, it is alive and thriving,” she said.

The LeTort PTO sponsors Family Fun Nights, a May Fair, bingo nights and skating parties. It now has a steady group of about 10 parents who attend the monthly meetings, and Case has started adding extra meetings, like a meet-and-greet event for new parents held over a recent weekend.

“I think for the faculty, it improves the teacher morale. I think that teachers want to know that parents care,” Case said. “I think kids learn more when parents care.”

LeTort is always looking for a greater pool of volunteers to give time or donations, Case said.

“(Our volunteers) are probably on the low side, compared to what we could get,” Beth Snyder, PTO member at Plainfield Elementary School, said.

In October, Plainfield hosts an Open House to give parents the opportunity to volunteer at the PTO’s different events, such as a Breakfast with Santa or the spring book fair, Snyder said. The number of volunteers varies, and some parents participate in more than one event, Snyder said.

“I think a lot of people are busy,” said Alisa Closs, one of the treasurers of the Parent Advisory Council (PAC) at Wilson Middle School. “You don’t have to attend every meeting. You can attend when you can and volunteer when you want to volunteer.”

Although Viehman would like to see more people attend the PTO’s monthly meetings, Monroe Elementary School is fully staffed with volunteers for each PTO event, she said. Monroe’s PTO uses what Viehman calls a “two-hour power sheet;” parents make a two-hour pledge and commit to two hours a school year, she explained.

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