As we celebrate National Principals’ month and what makes schools successful, I reflect on our very talented and dedicated Parent Teacher Association (PTA). Our motto—“inspiring excellence”—in all we do has a direct relationship to the incredible partnership we have with the PTA at our school. Our PTA consists of parents and staff working collaboratively at Longfellow Middle School. The parents support our staff in numerous ways including fundraising, volunteering and programming.
I firmly believe that the work between our staff and the PTA directly impacts our school’s mission, which promotes inspiring excellence in learning through academics, life skills and service to others, as well as supporting our vision of welcoming diversity, embracing challenge, encouraging creativity, supporting environmental stewardship and celebrating personal growth for every member of our Longfellow family.
Here are a few examples of our strong relationship:
- Our PTA hospitality committee provides a monthly celebration of lunch or dinner for our faculty and staff. This activity goes a long way in supporting a warm, welcoming and positive culture for all. Our teachers are so appreciative and always make special efforts to reach out to our parents through involving them in classroom activities, class field trips, individual or group parent/teacher conferences and parent team coffees.
- Through the generosity of our PTA, many school programs and activities are funded, such as $10,000 grants that support our remediation and enrichment programs. Our PTA pays for students to have another set of textbooks at home. They have also purchased mobile labs for our classrooms and assignment notebooks for every child.
- Members of our PTA provide an incredible amount of support to our Eco-Action team, and last year we received the Green Flag from the National Wildlife Federation. In order to receive the prestigious “Green Flag,” a school needs to have “environmental stewardship” in the mission and vision statements as well as in the school improvement plan. Our parents have spent countless hours assisting our students and teachers in creating a rain garden, vegetable garden and butterfly garden. Parent volunteers were instrumental in establishing a robust recycling program as well. Parents also worked with our custodians in completing an “energy pathway” whereby we reduced the amount of lighting and heating/air-conditioning use. Because of all these efforts, our school was given this award.
- Our parents are totally in charge of our school beautification of the grounds program as well as transporting our unused food from lunches to our local food pantry. They also established a “Longfellow Love” program and collect gift certificates so our neediest families can purchase extra food and clothing for their families.
- We have collaborated with our parents on providing programs such as our International Parents’ Network, ADHD Parent Resource Group, an anti-bullying program and our “How to Thrive at Longfellow” event, which is designed as a joint effort of our PTA and counseling department.
Words cannot describe the immense gratitude I have for our outstanding PTA. They are tremendous leaders with excellent ideas and I thank each and every PTA member from the bottom of my heart for their effort in supporting excellence in our school.
Carole Kihm is the principal at Longfellow Middle School in Falls Church, Va.