Attending the Texas PTA leadership conference

Imagine thousands of women and men all with the same goal – to improve the lives of their teachers and students. That is exactly the type of people attending the LAUNCH_REG_Web-Banner-300x142Texas Parent-Teacher Association Leadership Conference in Dallas, Texas last month.

Most of us in attendance are officers on our local PTA boards though any PTA member can attend. One school brought their whole PTA board of 20 people!

This was my second year attending the conference. (Last year, it was in Houston and next year it will be in my hometown – San Antonio.)

There were classes to fit every interest level – from the basics of how to do your position (Treasurer, Parliamentarian, President, Fundraising, Secretary, etc.) to PTA issues (how to deal with contentious meetings or other drama, expanding membership, getting volunteers) to parenting issues (Lice, cyber bullying, talking about sex, online safety) and even personal things such as what to cook for dinner and how to save for college.

Last year when I went, it was my first year as Treasurer so most of the classes I took pertained to my position save one, which was on using technology in your presentations. (I already love doing graphics and videos so it was right up my alley and proved very useful.)

This year, since I was already secure in my current position, I mostly took other classes that interested me. That might be why I liked this year’s conference so much better than last year’s.

Here are the Classes and Discussion Groups that I attended.

Classes

Treasurer Basics – Took this one the year before but came in late and thought I could make sure I am doing everything right. However, with all the questions from the audience, the speaker only covered a third of her presentation. This was my least favorite class and the only one I turned in an evaluation form on.

Making the Treasurer’s Job Easier through Financial Transparency – Last year, we bought the program PT Avenue to keep track of our members, volunteers and finances. I took this course to see if I was taking advantage of all the financial features of the software. The speaker was very funny, and I learned a few new tricks.

Increasing Participation in Events and Volunteer Opportunities with PT Avenue – Again, I took this course to better use the features of our new software. I learned some things to pass on to our volunteer coordinator.

Friends, Frenemies and Fitting In – This one was personal. My seven-year-old has already been talking about the drama of the classroom. This week Madison is her friend and the next week she complains Madison is being mean to her. Nora doesn’t like her, and James said this or that about her. And I only see this as getting worse. The course was very good. The woman talked a lot about what parents should do in certain situations and about teaching girls to like themselves.

Bylaws and Standing Rules – You would think this might be a boring topic but the lecture just flew by. I learned a lot and as we update our bylaws in the next year or so, I am sure this course will help out.

Discussion Groups

Why PTA in 5 minutes or Less – This was a fun session where we brainstormed what to discuss with other parents who are reluctant to join the PTA. This was an excellent example from one of the groups.

The value of our PTA is found in the programs and resources we can provide above and beyond what the school can provide. We hope to engage families to take an active role in the lives of their students to help them reach their full potential. It’s about leveraging and enhancing our students’ learning experiences. And through the PTA we can influence legislative action such as advocating for state testing changes and be a voice for our kids.

Conflict Stinks! Can’t we just get along? – We have very little conflict in our PTA, but it happens. This session made me value the excellent parents of our PTA. We certainly are better off than some of the other people who brought up issues in their PTAs.

There were many other classes or discussions I would like to have joined, but there is only so much time. And this doesn’t include the vendor fair, the regular PTA annual meeting, special lunches and banquets. (Of that last list we only made it to the vendor fair for the free samples.)

I went with three other ladies from the PTA, and we never went to a class together so we could gather the most information to share with our board. It was fun, informative weekend and next year, with the conference is in our town, we hope to send even more people to it.

Joining the PTA Executive Board

Three years ago when my son started kindergarten, I joined the parent-teacher association (PTA). I had no clue what I was doing but there was a sign up if you were interested in it and the next thing I knew, I had agreed to be responsible for the PTA student directory.

I did that for the first two years, and then they request you change committees. So this school year (which ends in just three days), I chose to do Faculty Appreciation. This is an awesome committee that plans lunches for our wonderful staff. It has been fun and when I signed up for it, I assumed I would be doing it again next school year.

Nope, not going to happen.

piggy bank uid 1070772In December (yes, they start recruiting early here), I was asked to join the PTA executive board as their treasurer. The executive board consists of the president, three vice-presidents (one for membership, fundraising and parent education), the secretary, the treasurer and the parliamentarian. The rest of the PTA board is made of about twenty-five other committees.

Now my friend Stephanie has always kidded me that I would someday be president of the PTA, and of course, she looks at me joining the executive board as a step in that direction. Honestly, looking at the requirements/duties of the PTA president and how little free time I have, I am not sure it is a job I would ever want. (Check back in a couple year and see if I am posting about becoming PTA president.)

Treasurer should be a good fit for me. I am organized (though you would never know it from looking at my desk). And I am good with money. I already handle our household money as well as do all the bookkeeping for my husband’s law firm.

So in April, I was voted in as Treasurer. I was the only candidate so it wasn’t like I had to do anything other than stand up and say I would do the job. It was the same with all the other positions. So our executive board will be made up of 5 new people and 2 returning executive board members.

We have had two meetings of the new board since then. The first was to decide on the PTA fundraiser for next year. We are going with a carnival. It sounds like a lot of work but is supposed to be a great fund generator and is far better than the 5K run they originally proposed. The second meeting was to discuss the proposed budget for next year.

Now that school is just about over, I only have to meet with the past treasurer to transfer over the files and to attend the Texas PTA leadership seminar in Houston this July. Then I am off the hook with anything until August when the beginning of the year will bring the sale of spirit items and membership dues being collected. I am sure I will be really busy. I just hope that come August or September, I am not regretting my decision to take on this position.