Notes from the Backpack

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Notes from the Backpack

A Podcast for Parents, by Parents

PTA is working to ensure our public schools provide a high-quality and equitable education for every child to reach their full potential. Notes from the Backpack is a PTA podcast designed for millions of parents and the decisionmakers they influence.

Through the unique combination of expert, parent and educator guests, each episode features engaging conversations that offer real-life advice and ideas on how to support children’s learning and development—all in parent-friendly language.

Real Experts. Real Parents. Real Conversations.

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Current Episode

Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024

Briana Webster Campbell

79 | Behind the Scenes in the School Cafeteria


Briana Webster Campbell

How can families partner with schools to ensure their children are enjoying nutritious meals? Our hosts talked with Briana Webster Campbell, the managing director of Center for Best Practices at No Kid Hungry to get an inside look into the school cafeteria. Briana shares how schools determine what foods to serve, how families can get more involved and why your child’s cinnamon roll may be healthier than you think!

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Recent Episodes

Michael Gonzalez

78 | Promising Practices in Rural Schools


Michael Gonzalez

Innovations in rural schools are paving the way for more successful futures for our youth! Tune in as Michael Gonzalez, executive director of the Rural Schools Innovation Zone shares about the challenges rural schools face and how they’re facing them head on. From expanding career and technical offerings to substantial teacher retention bonuses, Mike shares how pooling resources between districts in rural Texas has been a game changer for their students.

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Denise Forte

77 | Advocating for an Accurate, Well-Rounded Curriculum


Denise Forte

How is the political climate shaping the curricula in schools today? From book bans to censorship, our guest Denise Forte, president and CEO of the Education Trust, delves into the tensions facing education today. Tune in to discover current challenges and bright spots and to explore where we go from here.

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Brandon Wright

76 | How Schools Can Challenge All High Achievers


Brandon Wright

From supplemental instruction to grade skipping, there are options when it comes to challenging our most advanced learners, but these opportunities can be hard to access. Brandon Wright, editorial director at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute joins the show to share best practices in gifted education and what families can do if their child would benefit from a more advanced curriculum. 

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Dr. Soo Hong

75 | Preparing Educators to Engage Families


Dr. Soo Hong

How do teachers find the most effective ways to engage families? Teachers often learn from their colleagues and even their own experiences as students. In this episode, Dr. Soo Hong, researcher and professor at Wellesley College, highlights the lack of formal family engagement training and the systemic changes needed to support early career teachers.

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Harleigh Walker and Jeff Walker

74 | Leading Alongside Transgender Youth


Harleigh Walker and Jeff Walker

As new state and local laws target LGBTQ+ students, what can families do to ensure schools treat all students with care and empathy? Teen transgender activist Harleigh Walker and her father, Jeff Walker, join the show to share their advocacy experience. They highlight how harmful policies are impacting school life for kids around the country and what you can do to help.

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Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore

73 | Playground Politics: How Kids Make Friends


Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore

Friendships are a cornerstone of childhood, but some kids have an easier time making friends than others. We talked to psychologist, author and friendship expert, Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore to learn how families can support their children in building and maintaining healthy relationships with their peers. Dr. Kennedy-Moore shares how friendships change and develop as children age and how parents can coach from the sidelines.

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Jessica Lahey

72 | How to Talk with Your Kids About Addiction


Jessica Lahey

Many parents feel unsure when they should start talking to their children about addiction and even more uncertain about what to say. In this episode, author and educator, Jessica Lahey, offers practical tips and guidance for having conversations about drug and alcohol use. She draws on the latest research and her own experiences to share what families need to know to keep their kids safe.

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