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National PTA Honors Parents and Youth From Across the Country for Leadership in Advocating for Children and Education

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Heidi May, Media Relations Manager

Honorees to be recognized during 2014 National PTA Legislative Conference

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Jan. 27, 2014) — National PTA® is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2014 Outstanding Advocacy Awards, which honor parents and youth from across the country for their leadership and dedication to being strong advocates for education and issues affecting children. The honorees will be recognized during the 2014 National PTA Legislative Conference on Wednesday, March 12 during the PTA Takes Action Dinner at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Va.

This year’s recipients are:

PTA Outstanding State Advocacy Award – New York State PTA
New York State PTA is committed to educating families, teachers and communities on the Common Core State Standards. As a result of its consistent support of the Common Core, New York State PTA was asked to collaborate with the New York Education Commissioner on supporting family understanding of the standards. New York State PTA also partnered with the New York State United Teachers to craft the Parent’s Guide to Common Core Learning, which was released in July 2013. To date, the brochure has been distributed to thousands of individuals around the state. Additionally, New York State PTA created the “Hear Our Voice” campaign, a highly successful effort to educate and engage families around the Common Core State Standards.

PTA Outstanding Local Advocacy Award – Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School PTSA and Appomattox Regional Governor’s School PTSA (Virginia)
Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School PTSA and the Appomattox Regional Governor’s School PTSA are jointly being honored for their collaborative campaign to address state funding for full-day Academic Year Governor's Schools in Virginia. The PTSAs identified a discrepancy in the state funding formula for Academic Year Governor’s Schools that provides considerably less funding for full-day schools when compared to part-day schools. Members of both PTSAs educated themselves around the Virginia budget process and state education funding formulas and united to form an advocacy partnership. As a result of their joint effort, budget amendments to address the state funding discrepancy have been introduced in the Virginia State House and Senate.

Shirley Igo Advocate of the Year Ambassador Award – Yvonne Johnson (Delaware)
Yvonne Johnson’s advocacy efforts to include more meaningful family engagement in education resulted in Delaware PTA being given a seat as the parent voice on Delaware’s P20 Council, an inclusive organization designed to align Delaware’s education efforts from early childhood to post-secondary education and workforce readiness. Johnson regularly participates in roundtable discussions, contributes op-ed pieces and provides information to the media related to Delaware PTA’s advocacy, including providing public comments opposing the use of class size waivers which has resulted in Delaware school districts reconsidering their position on the issue. She also has advocated that PTA representatives be included on a state task force to review and revise Delaware’s charter school code to ensure that parent and community input is a formal part of the charter school application process. Johnson is the immediate past-president of Delaware PTA and currently serves as its Federal Legislative Chair. As the recipient of the Shirley Igo Advocate of the Year Ambassador Award, Johnson will serve as an ambassador for National PTA, helping to positively affect policy, regulation and legislation.

Youth Advocate of the Year Ambassador Award – Gabriel Unruh (Missouri)
Gabriel Unruh is being recognized for his efforts to save the lives of youth by educating them on the dangers of texting while driving. Unruh organized a Kansas City “Arrive Alive” event that brought together school, community and law enforcement groups. As part of this effort, he oversaw more than 100 volunteers, wrote editorials on distracted driving that were published in Kansas City newspapers, and effectively used social media to promote the campaign. The “Arrive Alive” event was attended by more than 1,000 high school students and community members and received support from over 25 businesses and government agencies. Unruh is in the process of submitting to the Missouri Department of Transportation an official action plan and proposal to create a model “Arrive Alive” program for schools across Missouri. Unruh is a member of the Platte County High School PTSA. As the recipient of the award, he will serve as a youth ambassador for National PTA throughout 2014.

“The recipients of the Outstanding Advocacy Awards exemplify what it means to take action for children and education,” said Otha Thornton, National PTA President. “Through their leadership, passion and dedication, they have made a difference to improve the lives and futures of our nation’s children, and we are pleased to recognize them during the 2014 National PTA Legislative Conference.”

Each year, the National PTA Legislative Conference brings together hundreds of parent leaders from across the country to discuss PTA’s public policy priorities and inspire and empower them to advocate for all children. The 2014 conference will be held from March 11 through 13 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel. During the conference, attendees will hear from speakers and participate in interactive workshops and skill-building trainings on a variety of topics, including juvenile justice and delinquency prevention, early childhood education and ESEA-NCLB reauthorization and family engagement. They also will meet with Congressional leaders to discuss key issues impacting our nation’s children.

For more information about the 2014 Outstanding Advocacy Awards and National PTA Legislative Conference, visit

About National PTA

National PTA® comprises millions of families, students, teachers, administrators, and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of parent involvement in schools. PTA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health, and welfare of children and youth.