Champions of Change: PTA Leaders

Uploaded by whitehouse on 10.08.2012

Kyle Lierman: Welcome back.
I hope you guys had a good lunch and a few good break
out sessions.
And now we start the fun part of the day,
our champions of change event.
And to start us off, for today, we have the assistant to the
President and senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett.
Valerie Jarrett: Well, good afternoon everyone.
Audience: Good afternoon.
Valerie Jarrett: We are just delighted to have each and every
one of you here on behalf of President Obama,
welcome to the White House, your house.
I would like to begin by recognizing Betsy Lander,
President of the PTA, Betsy stand up,
so everybody can give you a proper shout out.
(applause) we want to thank you for everyone you do for the PTA
and also all of the help you and your team put together to help
us organize this tremendous event.
I am thrilled to see that it is all the way to the back row.
We filled the room with everyone and we are just
delighted you are here and we hope you have enjoyed the day.
I know it has been action packed.
I couldn't believe the 16 different break out groups
that we had during lunch.
But something for everybody and I hope you have found it to be a
rewarding day.
And I also want to say greetings to everybody who has been
watching on line.
You can join our conversation on line or on Twitter with the hash
tag WHPTA.
I recently joined Twitter, so I am learning all of the lingo.
My handle, I hear it is called handle, is at VJ44.
And so I encourage anyone who is here, please tweet out.
The folks that are so proud back home to have you here and we
want to join in that celebration and one of the ways of doing
that of course is over the social media.
So as I said, I know you have been here since early morning
but now we are ready for what I truly believe is the highlight
of the day.
It is time to honor those twelve very,
very special representatives from your group who have made
a huge impact in your communities back home.
Nearly every week here at the White House,
we honored nature Americans who are doing extraordinary things
in their communities all across the country.
And we call them as you have heard champions of change.
Very simple and to the point.
And I am especially excited about the honorees that we
have here this week.
We are honoring twelve PTA champions of change who are
improving their schools and the lives of so many young people
across the country.
As leaders, advocates, motivators, and volunteers,
they work to do for children in their communities nothing short
of miracles everyday.
Heroic work.
And so please join me in giving a round of applause to our
twelve champions of change.
(applause) as parents the President and the first lady
know how important it is for parents to be engaged in their
children's lives and involved in their schools.
They know that they have the ability to make a difference
not only in their own children's lives but in the,
in the health and vitality of an entire community.
I will give you just one example.
Earlier this week, Cynthia Germanata (sp),
who is Lady Gaga's mom and I.
I know it is hard to believe I have anything to do with Lady
Gaga but her mom and I are the same age.
And actually Lady Gaga is the same age as my daughter.
We got together and participated in the department of education's
third annual bullying prevention summit.
Our goal is simple.
Ending bullying in our schools.
The PTA is an essential partner in that effort.
For no child or family should have to endure the pain and
agony that can be associated with bullying.
My own mom is a devoted life-long teacher herself.
First, she was a preschool teacher and then she cofounded
and later became President of Eric son (sp)
institute, which is a graduate school in early childhood
development where to this day at the age of 83,
she is still teaching.
She taught me at an early age, the value of parents being
involved in their children's education.
And I have tried to instill those same values in my daughter
who is all grown up now 26.
That is why here at the White House we are so excited to honor
these champions of change and to recognize and lift up all PTA
members all across our country for the vital work that you all
do each and everyday.
To each one of you, our champions our twelve champions
of change, all of the PTA leaders who are here today,
all of those of you who are watching on line,
and every single parent across our country,
who puts time and effort into their children's education,
each and every one of you are heros.
Your work and involvement is the key to making our children
thrive, in their schools and in their communities.
And on behalf of the President I am going to just thank you all
for everything that you do each and everyday.
And now to tell you a little bit more about every one of our
twelve champions, I would like to introduce to you a person who
I have known for a very long time.
We are not going to talk about how many years.
Everybody always jokes about -- you see she was holding
her breath.
She is like don't tell them.
Everybody always jokes about the President's gray hair.
Well, our gray hair is not so funny as his gray hair
tends to be.
But we go back a long time.
I am just delighted that she is here in -- little Angel.
A little darling.
That actually is a good thing.
We want to have children a part of this so that they can
appreciate what you all do as well.
Back to my friend Tina.
Tina is not only the First Lady's chief of staff,
but she also is the executive director of the White House
Council on Women and Girls and I have the pleasure of chairing
the council.
And so we are working hand in glove each and everyday and have
so enjoyed our time together.
And the, just the honor and privilege of working in a White
House lead by President Obama.
So I couldn't do what I do each and everyday without
Tina as my partner.
So Tina, please come up and let's talk about each one of
the champions.
Congratulations again everybody.
Tina Tchen: Well, thank you Valerie.
And I am delighted to be here.
And to be part of PTA day at the White House and to be part of
our team that is welcoming all of you here.
As Valerie just indicated, I mean the PTA is something
that is near and dear to all of our hearts both remembering my
mother being so involved in the PTA you know on behalf of me
when I was, when I was a child.
And then as a parent of, of both of my children as
they have gone through school.
So again, let me echo the thanks to all of you,
those of you who are here, those of you who are the leadership,
those of you watching around the country for the work that you,
you know, through the PTA do on behalf of the children of our
country you know each and everyday.
So thank you very, very much.
And especially on behalf of the First Lady, as many of you know,
two of her signature issues are really ones in which PTA's have
been instrumental and really involved with.
And that is Let's Move.
You know, our effort to you know help our children lead healthier
lives and end childhood obesity in a generation and the work
that you all do in schools.
Both in terms of promoting healthy eating and more physical
activity for our kids are so important.
And our second initiative Joining Forces which is how each
and every one of us across in our communities can help our
military families and our veterans.
And the children especially of deployed military service
members, our blue star and our gold star families is
so important.
And I know the PTA's have been instrumental in helping us with
that effort as well.
So on behalf of the First Lady, I want to especially thank you
all for the work that you are doing.
And now it is my singular pleasure to take as one by
one and call up on to the stage each of our champions of change.
It is always a very exciting day as Valerie said here in the
White House when we are able to, to recognize you know people
across the country who have really been active
in their communities.
Because this is the PTA as I said it is an especially
delightful way to end the week for us here at the White House
and celebrate all of you.
So first is Anne Stafford.
Anne, if you can come up while I talk about you.
For the past 15 years -- (applause) -- for the past 15
years, Anne Stafford has served as a true advocate for parental
involvement in education in Phoenix, Arizona.
Her efforts have resulted in the creation of a school based
parent involvement resource center and the conception and
development of a community outreach program that provides
free personal hygiene items to students in need.
So thank you Anne.
(applause) Our next Champion of Change is Sharon Meigh-Chang.
Sharon Meigh-Chang has dedicated over 2500 volunteer hours to the
Portland council PTA clothing center.
As the current director, Sharon has reinforced the center's
mission of provides thousands of students in need with clothing
as well as the self confidence to be the best prepared for
school that they can be.
Thank you Sharon.
(applause) Sam Macer.
Sam is not only a parent, grandparent,
foster parent and uncle to over 40 nieces, nephews,
Sam's daughters and foster children,
but also a PTA volunteer on local state and national levels.
I don't know how he finds the time.
(laughter) Through partnerships and collaborations with state
and local agencies, he has helped raise awareness of the
value of PTA in the state effort to provide the best possible
educational outcomes for all of Maryland's children.
(applause) Thank you Sam.
Deirdre Pierce.
Throughout her service as a local school PTA treasurer and
President, school council representative and business
partner and current PTA district director of three Georgia
counties, one of Deirdre Pierce's most notable
accomplishments is successfully advocating for the complete
renovation of her neighborhood high school.
Which resulted in the school board allocating funds for all
high schools to have the same.
Thank you Deirdre.
(applause) Mandy Patterson.
Since 2008, Mandy Patterson has either chaired or served on most
of the committees at the Oak Grove Elementary PTA in Raleigh,
North Carolina.
She currently serves as the vice president of fund raising and
family nights and she has previously been both treasurer
and president.
Thank you Mandy.
(applause) Janelle Sperry.
Janelle Sperry's 20 years of dedication to her local
elementary school, the Berkeley county council PTA,
and west Virginia PTA have produced significant results.
Not only has she secured grants for Bunker Hill Elementary
School PTA, for new athletic sites, technology,
resource materials, and in outdoor signs and nature center.
But she also currently serves as the President of mill creek
immediate PTA.
Thank you, Janelle.
(applause) Emily Sack.
Emily Sack is currently vice President of Kurtz elementary
PTA in Milford, Michigan.
And she is utilized PTA's volunteer opportunities both
at the school and in classrooms to interact with other parents,
the faculty, school administrators,
and most importantly of all, our children.
Thank you.
Thank you, Emily.
(applause) Sharon Whitworth.
For the past 36 years Sharon Whitworth has been a PTA
advocate for all children through her service.
As the 15th district PTA President,
Kentucky PTA President, and current Kentucky PTA
legislative commissioner.
She is also spear heading a national PTA grant as project
lead in an effort to educate parents in the community about
the common core standards.
Thank you, Sharon.
(applause) Melissa Kicklighter.
As in coming vice President for regions and councils for Florida
PTA, Melissa is an adviser to the common core states standard
committee and lead instructor for those training modules and
many others pertaining to advocacy and parent and
community engagement.
Thank you, Melissa.
(applause) Calvin Endo.
With 11 children and more than 28 grandchildren the two
gentlemen on the panel I have learned have a lot of kids
between the two of them I have to note.
Calvin and his extensive involvement with Wai'anae high
school PTA in Hawaii have led him to his current positions as
the school PTSA President, as well as education chairman for
the Wai'anae neighborhood board which allows Calvin to work with
the principals on the west side of Oahu and the Wai'anae Leeward
Community College.
Thank you, Calvin.
(applause) Carlina Brown.
A mother of four, Carlina Brown started family advocacy as a
parent representative to the policy council with head
start in Washington almost 20 years ago.
She currently serves as PTSA President at Rainier
Beach High School.
And co-director for the South East Seattle,
Seattle Council PTA.
Thank you, Carlina.
(applause) And finally, Ana Chapman.
As elementary music teacher, the current Ohio PTA director
of communications, and the president of Grindstone
Elementary PTA in Berea, Ohio, Ana Chapman's commitment as a
parent, educator and PTA advocate in her community
is omni present.
She has also previously served as Berea PTA council president.
Unit president, 1st vice president, historian,
web master, and chair person of numerous committees.
Thank you, Ana.
(applause) So there you have our PTA champions of change.
Congratulations to you all and let's give them all another big
round of applause.
Thank you all again.
They are representative of the great work that PTA's do across
our country.
And now I think you are going to have an opportunity to hear from
some of them.
So let me turn it back over to Kyle.
Oh, a picture?
Kyle Lierman: Yes, a picture.
Get in the middle.
Photographer: One, two, three.
And one, two, three.
And one, two, three.
Here we go.
Nice smiles.
Kyle Lierman: Great.
Thank you.
All right.
Tina Tchen: Oh, the PTA paparazzi.
That is what she just said.
(laughter) You all deserve paparazzi for all of your
great work.
Kyle Lierman: Thank you all very much.
Tina Tchen: Thank you all.
Kyle Lierman: And our second panel can grab their seats.
Thank you so much, Tina.
I appreciate it.
All right.
So we have two panels with our Champions of Change today.
So I am going to bring up a familiar face from today.
Massie Ritsch who is going to be moderating our first panel.
Massie Ritsch: I am back.
(laughter) All right.
Let's be honest.
Who kept this napkin at lunch?
(laughter) Right.
Like the president personally packed your lunch today.
It is like I am going to put my seal on the napkin.
You know, exactly.
(laughter) Any way, we are delighted to
have the champions here.
And I am delighted to be with you folks.
Hello folks.
I feel like I know a lot about you from your nomination forms.
I used to be a newspapers reporter before I got into
this racket.
So my instinct is to ask people a lot of questions and we don't
have time for that.
And I won't ask you deep probing and investigative questions like
in 1979 you said -- but I, I want to pull some things from
what other folks said about you.
Both so we can hear about what you have done in your
communities, but also so we can take away some lessons that
could apply for other communities in ways that
people might learn from, from your PTA leadership.
And Anne, I want to start with you.
The giving closet.
What is it?
What are you giving away?
What is in that closet?
And what difference is that making in students lives?
Anne Stafford: It is a program that we
started a few years ago.
My co-founder is actually here with me here in the audience.
There she is.
Kandel Burgess (sp).
It started out of a need that we found.
The school had organized sort of a holiday help program.
And we found that what a lot of the students were asking for
were personal hygiene items.
So they had the opportunity to ask for anything that they
wanted during the holidays and what they were asking for was
soap and tooth paste and those things because they didn't have
access to them.
So we started looking at what happens to student achievement
when they don't have access to those types
of basic necessities.
So we designed the program that students and their families can
come in once a month and select items from the giving closet.
And it is, it is all personal hygiene items.
And it is all funded through grants and community donations.
Massie Ritsch: Great.
And can you tell us what did you learn when you looked at
what the impacts are when kids don't have access to
those very simple items?
Anne Stafford: That is what we designed our goals around.
And that those were to decrease incidents of bullying,
to reduce absences due to illness from not having
access to that.
And to also increase their self esteem and confidence.
And that all relates to their student achievement rates.
Massie Ritsch: So when we think about the costs of chronic
absenteeism, what we go to solve that with a bar of soap,
some shampoo, I mean that we can chip away --
Anne Stafford: It is definitely one of the factors.
Massie Ritsch: Yeah.
No, but that is a start.
Anne Stafford: Yes.
Massie Ritsch: Yeah.
Thank you.
And where is that sort of as you look in the future,
where is that program going, the giving closet?
Anne Stafford: It is expanding every month.
We have more and more families that come and
make use of those resources.
And we just keep reaching out to the community to help fund
it every month.
And it just, it keeps growing.
We would like to expand it to further schools and throughout
the state.
Massie Ritsch: I know a couple of you have started
programs like that, a bed.
And man day, you have got one, you call it pajamas pals.
Mandy Patterson: Yes.
Yeah, in 2008, we started pajamas pals and we collect
new and used books and then new pajamas.
And then at Christmas time we adopt families
from different schools.
And we have adopted as many as ten and had around 600 students.
Because it is the student themselves as well as any child
in the house from birth to age 18 and they all get a
new or used book.
We try to give them new.
But sometimes we don't have those in stock.
But we all give them new pajamas.
And then our local dentist will donate toothbrushes
and tooth paste.
And then it is wrapped up.
And some of the kids have come back the following year and said
that is all they have got ten at Christmas which is touching,
you know, considering that some of them don't even have books in
their home or some of them don't have electricity.
And it was those pajamas that kept them warm.
Massie Ritsch: Why did you pick pajamas?
Mandy Patterson: As just a basic thing.
It is something, I had three little kids.
And my youngest, God love him, he loves pajamas.
And you know, he has always loved pajamas.
And you know, when you are not feeling well, the -- you know,
you go to the hospital to have a baby,
the first thing you get is your pair of pajamas
for the hospital.
And you know, if you are not feeling great.
You want a nice pair of pajamas, you want you know to brush your
teeth, you want a good book to read just to relax.
So it is just a basic, basic thing.
So it doesn't have to be a grand gesture of an entire meal and
food for your entire family, which is a need.
But you know something as simple as pajamas and books
can really help.
Massie Ritsch: So you take in I think now something like
75,000 pairs of pajamas?
Mandy Patterson: Yeah, we have reached the
10,000 mark in 2010 and we partnered with the Disney give
a day program and we collected about 40,000 in six months.
And so we had a local storage unit that gave us space to help
store them.
But we have redistributed them all out to social services,
even our own school, other schools.
You name it, and we have been there probably.
Ronald McDonald's house, the credit union house
in North Carolina.
Massie Ritsch: So Anne talked about plans she has to scale
up her program.
You have seen a lot of growth in your program.
So what can you share with parent leaders who are starting
something on a small scale?
You know, 50 pairs of pajamas, a hundred pairs?
50 books?
One hundred books?
Whatever it happens to be.
And how do you get to 75,000?
Mandy Patterson: You -- I mean,
it is just a small idea that everybody can take part in.
We have had girl scouts groups, we have had boy scouts groups.
We have had just second grade classrooms.
We have had the YMCA guys and princess,
a group of ten and they will collect a hundred
pairs of pajamas.
Because you say hey, I want to give a child a pair of pajamas.
And most kids you know say, hey, I will buy pajamas.
Or here they can clear off my book shelf.
And you know, take the used books or we have had kids at
book fairs who will buy one book for themselves and then give two
books to pajamas pals.
So it is just a basic thing that everybody can kind of wrap their
mind around.
And once you realize that everybody little bit helps,
you know even if you are helping one child,
that still makes you feel as good as helping 10,000,
15,000 children.
Massie Ritsch: So you do see 75,000 pairs of pajamas,
what are the trends in pajamas fashion right now?
Mandy Patterson: We don't see very many
Dora the Explorer anymore.
And Sponge Bob is kind of yesterday's news.
Massie Ritsch: Okay.
Good to know.
I know you were thinking it.
So -- now, Deirdre, you have been involved on the,
on the facilities side --
Deirdre Pierce: Yes.
Massie Ritsch: -- in particular as we heard.
Tell us about what that face lift project was
for your school.
And then as we have asked for the other folks what difference
has that made?
What difference do facilities make in the life of a school
for students and for the teachers and the other
adults who are working?
Deirdre Pierce: Well, our facility wasn't very highly
thought of for a very long time.
Living in a community you are either a facilitator
of change or you are one that sticks your head in the sand.
I am not one of those that does that.
So of course my children went to the school.
It is in the neighborhood.
They were going to go to their neighborhood school.
Of course, the building was an old building.
Built in the 60's.
So it was a standard small, got a lot -- it had a lot of issues.
We had happened to notice that a lot of the teachers were walking
around with water bottles a lot of time.
The kids were not drinking water.
So it took a few of our parents to come in and start turning on
the water faucets.
And we realized quickly why they weren't drinking the water.
There was rust coming out of it.
And so we started investigating the building,
walking around and seeing a lot of other things.
And started taking that checklist.
Walking around.
Talking to the administrators and saying, okay,
what is going on here?
So and you talk about the types of things of,
of you know perception.
A lot of our children were allowing the facility to
determine how they told people about their school,
being Mcnasty (sp).
And we were offended by that.
So we wanted to change the image of it.
Started pulling together.
Talking to the administration.
We had a school board member that came along with us.
We started talking to her.
Because that is what school board members are supposed to
do, help facilitate change.
So we all got together, brought the board out,
brought the architects out.
Told them what we wanted to have happen here.
And they came in.
They gave us some sub standard drawings.
We weren't satisfied with that.
So we decided to say go back to the drawing board and bring us
something better than this.
Because our children deserve it.
So they did.
We finally found an architect that came and caught our vision.
And he brought us one of the greatest things.
I had intended to bring those pictures with me because we were
all quite proud of it.
When you asked the question about what does a facility,
how it changes people, you might not be able to
change the inside readily.
But if you can change the outside sometimes,
it changes people's perception as they walk into a school.
And that is important.
It is very, very important.
It has changed mind sets unbelievably.
Massie Ritsch: Okay.
Now, all of these programs that we have talked about so far,
Anne's, Mandy's, and Deirdre's, have involved donations,
fund raising of some sort.
And Janelle, you are an expert at this it sounds like.
We have got how many pages.
Your nomination form from a friend of yours.
I can't tell you how many things she has raised money for.
So you have got to have some secrets here.
You are a grant -- you have written a lot of
grants successfully, right?
Janelle Sperry: Yes.
Massie Ritsch: So are you willing to reveal some secrets?
Janelle Sperry: No.
Massie Ritsch: To effective grant writing?
(laughter) Do we have to turn off the web cam?
Janelle Sperry: I can tell you but I am
going to have to kill you.
Massie Ritsch: Oh, yikes.
(laughter) Well, it is for the kids.
(laughter) So just think about, what are,
how have you been effective at, at finding,
identifying opportunities and then pursuing them successfully?
Janelle Sperry: Sure.
Actually, most of the grants that I have received have been
through the west Virginia legislature.
The first one was to pave a basketball court and track.
We noticed that it was so rainy that one season that the
children had to stay inside for recess every single day.
And they weren't getting any physical education.
So we said, well, if we can at least put a track in,
even if it wasn't raining, they keep the children in
because of it being muddy outside.
So we thought if we paveed a track,
they could walk out and walk on a paveed track for exercise.
So that is what started that.
And the second one was for library make over.
We received $5,500 for a library make over.
And the largest was the last one that we actually just finished
this spring was for an outdoor science and nature center.
It took about a year and a half to complete it.
Thousands of hours were put into that center.
But it is an amazing center.
When you walk into it, there is a huge brick paveed walkway that
goes through the center.
There is a large green house, a pond,
a bridge for the children to walk over.
Through the pond.
There is a -- because we are in west Virginia we wanted to
include state significance.
So we put a miniature forest with black bear,
which the black bear is our state animal.
Rhododendron is our state flower.
So we have a Rhododendron area.
An outdoor classroom, butterfly garden.
Things like that.
We have an archeology area where the kids can dig for
fossils and minerals.
And a huge 2,000-pound quartz pink rock.
So there is every bit of science and nature that we can
incorporate into that center.
And there is, there was nothing quite like the day that we
unveiled it.
We had a big grand opening.
And the children got to see it for the first time.
And the one thing I do remember was,
we had tree stumps that were included so that the children
could count the rings on a tree.
And I remember the kids going up and smelling the tree that they
had really never had the chance to just smell a tree,
a cut tree.
And how excited they were to smell what that smelled like.
And it is interesting to just see how important it is that not
only they read things in a book, but that they experience and
they smell it.
And they touch it.
So it was, it was, it is a very impressive center.
The kids absolutely love it.
And this is the first year I guess in the fall that they are
actually going to be able to use it and the teachers
are thrilled.
Massie Ritsch: She didn't really reveal any secrets.
Janelle Sperry: I got it through my delegate in my area.
And that was through the west Virginia legislature.
Massie Ritsch: You are, I notice like many,
most PTA volunteers, you have also got a day job, right?
Janelle Sperry: I do.
I run a mortgage company.
Massie Ritsch: Right.
So what do you -- it strikes me you do work
in the mortgage industry.
And that is about, it is about recognizing
potential and opportunity and leveraging resources
to make something bigger.
So sort of what do you bring from your day life to your
school PTA life that is helpful?
Janelle Sperry: Oh.
That is a good question.
Because honestly --
Massie Ritsch: Did you mortgage the school?
Janelle Sperry: No.
You know, it is funny, I tell so many people
that that is why I love PTA.
It is because in the mortgage industry,
it can be a little aggressive and stressful.
And the fun part of my day is when I actually get to go in
the school.
Because sometimes with the economy the way it is and
foreclosures, it can be a pretty negative environment during the
day for me with what I do.
But when I walk in my daughter's school, I am a rock star.
I mean, they all know me and they are waving to me and hi
Mrs. Sperry.
And they are so excited and it makes me feel like a rock star.
So actually I, I am not sure I can tie the two together.
For me I tell people all of the time, I love the separation.
So --
Massie Ritsch: Good.
Thank you.
Janelle Sperry: Sure.
Massie Ritsch: Now, Sharon, I was looking
at your application here that I have got.
And your daughter nominated you.
Did you know that?
Sharon Meigh-Chang: There were several people
that thought --
Massie Ritsch: Well, it is your daughter.
I just told you.
Sharon Meigh-Chang: -- determining,
determine who actually did it.
Massie Ritsch: I am giving her the credit.
She said -- first she called herself a fortunate daughter.
That's how she signed it, which was very nice.
What's her name?
Sharon Meigh-Chang: Lara.
Massie Ritsch: Lara.
Yes, L-a-r-a.
She said that you were often reminding students of something.
We do have a voice, even if we're still too young to vote.
Talk about that and what you want that to mean to students.
Sharon Meigh-Chang: First off, I'm choked up,
but I am very honored.
I have done boy scouts and girl scouts.
My daughter's 31.
My son is 26.
So active with the students, active with the PTA as
Stephenson Elementary PTA President and then with the
Portland Council PTA President.
But being active with kids, being a reading friend with
young students and stuff.
But the thing I always tell students,
whether we're at a PTA function or another function
or if something's coming up in the legislature,
that even though you are not old enough to vote yet,
you can still give your opinion.
You can still give your voice.
And I encourage every child that I meet,
if they have a concern -- when I worked at a middle school,
Jackson Middle School, the kids would say,
I can't believe that they're doing this.
And I said, you have a voice.
You may not be able to vote, but you can give your voice.
So I always encourage them.
And I tell them with PTA, we are a group of people who are giving
a voice to what your desires are for your health, your education,
your welfare.
We're here for you.
And we want more members -- -- so that we can have
a stronger voice.
(applause) And they'll be our voice.
We're our voice for them now.
But later, they'll be the voice for us.
Massie Ritsch: It's something that our Secretary says
a lot as well.
I think of when he spoke at the PTA Legislative Conference.
And what he says is that your kids can't vote,
they don't have lobbyists, they can't start pacts.
They might be able to now.
I don't know what the laws are anymore.
But that we have to give -- we do have to speak up for them.
But talk about -- are there instances you can think of in
your experience where the students have spoken up,
where they've directly spoken up and said,
here's what needs to change?
And what advice would you give for folks who could also sort of
encourage that kind of student revolution around the country?
Sharon Meigh-Chang: We actually in Portland, Oregon,
have had several rallies where the high schools have gotten
together with students and gone and marched downtown in our
pioneer square to give voice to funding full education,
to have an adequate, you know, quality education that they
rightly deserve and that we rightly need to provide for them
to make our nation greater, to have educated people throughout
our nation.
Massie Ritsch: One student that we heard from in
the process -- and we all choked up when we read it,
so I'm going to choke up again.
My name is -- wow.
(laughter) My name is Jasmine Bolden.
I like the idea of Champions of Change -- my God.
(laughter) And I would like to nominate my foster father.
Can you tell us how you came to be Jasmine's dad?
Sam Macer: Well, I really don't like to tell this story,
but I will this time.
You just asked me.
I was a PTA volunteer about 12 years ago.
The second grade teacher said she needed male volunteers,
and I decided to participate.
So I guess it was about a month into my volunteerism that the
young lady came up and she said, can I come live with you?
And I told her, no, you can't come live with me.
You know, you just can't come live with me.
It just doesn't work that way.
(laughter) So I guess about a month later, she asked me again,
can I come live with you?
I said, no, no, it doesn't -- But she knew she was going to go
into foster care in about a week.
She understood that.
So I guess it was about a month later she was transferred out of
the school.
I didn't see her anymore.
But I went to visit my mother-in-law.
My wife is here.
I went to visit my mother-in-law in Anne Arundel county,
another county from Baltimore.
And she was -- that very young lady was on the playground.
And again, she asked could she come live with me.
So this time, I really -- you know,
I took it seriously that time.
And my wife and I became foster parents for that young lady.
(applause) The foster care people brought her up to
my house.
Well, they called first.
They said look, you know, you've been approved, it's great.
We're going to bring her up to your home.
And by the way, she has a sister.
Can you take her too?
So in the second grade, first grade, they came to my home.
And now the young lady is in the 12th grade.
She's still at my home.
And it's worked out well.
And her sister has gone on.
It's been a joy to have her in my home.
Massie Ritsch: Great.
(applause) Barbara Walters moment, check.
Sam Macer: Thank you for that.
I really don't tell that story much.
Massie Ritsch: You got to read this folks.
It is powerful.
So you started a PTA chapter particularly for foster parents.
Sam Macer: I did, yeah.
Massie Ritsch: Why is that important and how does a foster
parent -- how might they feel differently about their
engagement with the school?
And how might the school treat them differently in
your experience?
Sam Macer: First of all, let me give a shout out and a thanks
to PTA in general because I received plenty of professional
development opportunities.
And that sort of helped me in my child advocacy in terms of
foster care.
What was your question again?
Massie Ritsch: You started a foster parent PTA --
Sam Macer: Foster parent PTA, there we go.
There we go.
Massie Ritsch: And your name is Sam.
Sam Macer: This is not just a Maryland problem.
But the research says that foster children are often two
to three grade levels behind their peers.
And they're also two to three grade levels in terms of their
math schools and their reading skills.
And it's really a sad situation.
So you know, I thought, you know,
how can I help our foster children in Maryland -- and
don't forget, this is a national problem.
Every state has foster children.
But how can I help the children in Maryland?
Well, I said, wait a minute, I just finished my term as PTA
President in Maryland, I know we can help foster children.
And I know we can do it.
We have a great parent engagement program.
And I got to tell you, the building successful partnerships
that PTA taught me about, I began to create partnerships
with the Maryland Resource Parent Association -- that's
the Maryland Foster Parent Association -- the Maryland PTA,
the Maryland PIRG, the Maryland State Department
of Education, the Maryland Department of Human Resources.
I said look, foster parents need a great
parent engagement program.
So what I did, I took the PTA content,
I added some child welfare content to that,
and we created a parent involvement piece that's
really been presented all over the state.
And thanks to the University of Maryland Department of Human
Resources we've been able to reach a lot of foster parents
and give them that special parent engagement piece because
even though PTA created a great piece,
you have to understand the foster children have
an extra piece.
That's the trauma piece.
Every single foster child has been traumatized in some way.
So that's what we do.
Massie Ritsch: Sam, you I read have referred to PTA
in your view as the most effective parent support
group in the nation.
And I think we think of PTA as a student support group,
a school support group, a teacher support group.
But I wonder if everyone who would like to contribute on
this, talk about in what way the organization is about supporting
each other as parents and ways that you've been doing that.
Mandy Patterson: If you don't mind, I'll start.
Massie Ritsch: Yes.
Mandy Patterson: Back when my daughter -- she's now in fifth
grade -- but in first grade, a teacher at her school had
lost her house to a fire.
And it was really a community effort that we just spearheaded
to get her furniture.
She needed basic supplies.
She needed gift cards.
She needed food.
She needed pots, pans, anything.
And it was really the school community.
It was parents at the school who didn't even know this teacher.
It was friends of parents at the school who heard about her
in the paper that really came together.
And even to this day, our current president who is
one of my best friends and, you know, just amazing,
she's undergoing breast cancer treatment.
And we've all, you know, been right there supporting
her the entire way.
And she's got a long road ahead of her.
But she knows that with a great team -- because that's what the
PTA really is, just a good team of people.
And she knows with all of us behind her that, you know,
we'll continue what she can't do.
And we can pick up the pieces that she can't
complete on her own.
And I think that's, you know, kind of what the PTA is,
at least with our school, is just a big network of
friends working together.
And our common goal is just to help our kids.
And if we help everybody's kids, that's great.
And it's like Janelle was saying,
where you walk in the school and you're kind of a rock star and
everybody knows you.
And they know, you know, hey, we need this.
Because sometimes they know that the PTA is struggling for money
and they don't want to do another fundraiser
for this and that.
But, you know, if you hear about a need,
they know that you're going to try really hard and come up with
creative solutions.
And that's what a good team can do.
Deirdre Pierce: I would like to add to that and say that PTA,
for the most part, a lot of people think that we just live
to fund raise.
We do that too.
We do bake cookies periodically, sell a little wrapping paper
and whatever.
But we're therapeutic to each other.
We actually kind of share stories that help us in
all kinds of ways.
We are advocates first and foremost.
And we advocate for each other.
We advocate for our children.
And we advocate for our communities.
And we just advocate in general.
That's our primary title and primary purpose.
And sometimes it's a little difficult to get that through
to some people.
But we do speak loudly about it.
And we support a lot of wonderful things.
It's basically like, you know, was just said here.
So we help each other a lot.
Sam Macer: And again, it's the professional development
opportunities that a PTA offers us where we become -- not only
to train PTA leaders.
We become advocates for the community in general through
PTA help.
Massie Ritsch: So what are the things that you think
America's parents need to have on their minds as we go into the
new school year, as we talk about building capacity?
Earlier in the morning, we talked about all the
policy changes, reforms that are happening.
Lots of change happening in education right now.
What would your advice be on what parents should be reading
up on, what questions they should be asking their child's
teacher, the school principal, what PTAs should be thinking
about as they go into this new school year?
Sharon Meigh-Chang: I would like to say that for parents and
community leaders, anybody who has an interest in children,
it's not just about the parents.
It's about the community.
It's about all of us reaching out to our children and making
a better life for them.
It's about each of us individually.
We all have a wonderful gift that we have within ourself that
we can share with the world.
And I encourage each of us, pick what you love and share it.
Go to the school.
Offer to read with a student.
If you love chess, start up a chess club.
Work with math.
Work with science.
Work with the things that you're good at because,
when you share your passion, a child is going to catch
that fire.
And perhaps that little spark is going to say, I could do that,
I would love to do that.
That spark in you can light up so many children.
So I encourage everybody and all the people who are listening,
please find your passion and share your passion.
Share your gifts with other people.
Anne Stafford: I would also encourage parents to find -- to
look for ways at the school to collaborate with the school.
We were talking earlier in one of the breakout sessions,
the difference between involving parents and engaging parents.
And a lot of times, we may design -- the school may design
a program and then look to parents for feedback or ask them
what they think of a program after it's already been designed
or even after it's already been implemented.
And then we say that we involved parents, you know,
parents were involved in the process.
And I would like to see more of a collaborative process where
parents are involved in the design of programs,
so we're actually collaborating together.
And that's parental engagement.
And that's the difference between engagement
and involvement.
So I would like to encourage parents as the school year
starts to look for those opportunities or to create
those opportunities themselves when they see the need in their
child's school.
Massie Ritsch: So you're champions of change.
I feel like we should have had an Olympic moment earlier.
'Tis the season for that.
What does that mean to you?
You're joining this fraternity of champions on other aspects of
education, teachers, principals, folks who are championing change
on the environment or healthcare, housing,
a lot of different issues.
This is a large program.
What did it mean to you to get the e-mail that you'd
been selected?
And how are you not going to let us down as you continue
this work?
(laughter) Because now like you got to up your game, right?
So Janelle, what are you going to do next?
Mandy Patterson: No pressure.
No pressure.
Janelle Sperry: Actually, I think it's so inspiring to hear
the other stories.
It's ironic.
I wonder how many of us, when you were talking about your
program, you were talking about your pajama program,
were thinking, I could do that at my school and was already
planning it in your head how you could do that.
And I share that interest, I think,
with everyone that was chosen to be a champion.
So I say, basically, we just need to keep pushing forward.
I think it's very motivating to be around people when you hear
their stories.
It just makes you want to do more.
So we just have to keep doing more.
Massie Ritsch: Mandy, what about you?
Mandy Patterson: I think it's going to great to kind of get
the conversation started, to let people know that they don't have
to create an entire program to work around.
When I started, I had two little boys at
home. They were one and three.
And I was the treasurer.
And I pretty much did it from home because that's
what I could do.
And some people count box tops, but that's what they can do
to contribute.
Some people work full-time and they still want to be involved.
And it doesn't have to be a grand movement.
But every moving cog in the whole picture helps.
And I think it helps, you know, for people to realize, hey,
you know, I could help with that or I have a question about this,
and just get the conversation going about different changes
they can make.
Massie Ritsch: Deirdre, what's next?
Deirdre Price: Well, for me first of all,
I would like to say that was a wow moment for me, a wow moment,
getting that e-mail.
One thing about champions for change,
we do realize it's not about a personal agenda.
And the agenda is all children.
And we speak for every child with one voice.
And that is something powerful that we can do all the time.
Massie Ritsch: Sam, we're not going to expect you to take
anymore children.
I do have two at home I might send to your house occasionally.
(laughter) What's next for you?
Sam Macer: I'm going to continue to raise the awareness
that our foster youth need the help of the PTA and other
community members to increase their educational outcomes in
a positive manner.
That's really important.
Massie Ritsch: Sharon?
Sharon Meigh-Chang: I think for me,
it's such an honor to be nominated and have this award.
It's mind boggling.
But what I will put out is that, within each of us is a champion.
And within each of us we can change our environment.
When we see a need, we can step up to the plate and help out.
I know with our PTA clothing center,
it started in 1964 because the superintendent had absentee
issues with families.
He asked one of the mothers, you know,
why is it that the boys don't come?
Some days one will come.
Some days the other will come.
And she very humbly said, I can only send one at a time because
we only have one pair of shoes for the kids.
So that kept that family from having their kids go to school.
So that's how our PTA clothing center was established in 1964.
And it continues to grow children.
Every year, we serve more children.
We have more volunteers.
We have more people like companies like Nike and Columbia
sportswear and old Navy that have stepped up to help us
provide clothing for the kids.
And parents out in the community and our families with the
school, they provide the gently used clothes.
They provide funding so that we can give the kids some new
clothes so they can go to school with pride so when they start
school they have some new clothes and stuff and they have
some school supplies.
It makes all the difference.
So give what you can when you can and where you can.
Massie Ritsch: Anne?
Anne Stafford: I think for our school,
it just shines a spotlight on everything that we've
been doing.
And it's going to help gather support from our community and
just lets them know the important work that we're doing
and shows the successes that we've had and what we hope to do
in the future and kind of sets an example for other schools and
shows them the possibilities that, you know, that can be had.
Massie Ritsch: I said I was a reporter,
so I was scribbling the whole time writing things down.
Just some take-aways before we have to move to meet another set
of great folks.
It doesn't have to be a grand gesture you said, Mandy.
Make it something that's manageable,
give what you can when you can.
You don't have to be overwhelmed by all of the issues that we
face, but find something that you can contribute that's right
for you and that your schools need.
Be walking the hallways.
Be listening to teachers.
Be listening to students.
What do they need?
And how does fixing that need tie to student achievement?
How do basic toiletries contribute to getting
kids to school?
And when you are ready to do something pretty big,
you can ask Sam how to do that.
(laughter) But thank you for sharing these stories,
these ideas.
I know little lightbulbs were going off in this room,
at home I hope as well.
We want to see these champions of change go out and spread the
word so we have more champions of change working
in your communities.
Deirdre, you said we demand something better than this
because our children deserve it.
Thank you.
Kyle Lierman: All right.
We can bring our second panel on up.
All right.
So as our second panel takes their seats,
I'm sorry this day has to end.
It's been pretty fun so far.
But to continue our day and to lead this panel,
someone who I have the pleasure of working with on a daily
basis, the liaison in our Office of Public Engagement who
coordinates women's outreach, Hallie Schneir is going to
take the lead.
Hallie Schneir: Hi, everyone.
How are you?
As Kyle mentioned, my name is Hallie Schneir.
And let's do one more huge round for our champions.
Thank you guys so much for everything that you're doing.
(applause) Oh, thanks.
This is me.
All right.
Well, it really is an honor to be here today.
I'm so excited that folks are here from all over country,
all different walks of life.
So what I'm hoping that we can get to do a little bit is kind
of get to know you all a little bit better,
how you got your start here.
I know we've got folks at home, we've got Massie who's going to
get started in the PTA here pretty soon.
So just getting to know folks a little bit better.
And what was it and when was it that you were able to kind of
get involved?
And Ana, maybe we can kind start with you and how you got your
start with the PTA.
Ana Chapman: Well, as a teacher,
I knew the importance of parents being involved in
their child's education.
So I knew I would be at some point when I had kids.
And when my oldest was in kindergarten,
I went to my first PTA meeting.
I just thought I was expected to go.
It was in the newsletter, it said to go, so I went.
And I was the only parent there other than the few members of
the board and the principal.
And I kept going.
I think most of us here probably have had that experience.
But I just thought it was important to be involved and
to try to do better things for our school.
Hallie Schneir: That's wonderful.
And Carlina, what was your experience like?
When did you get involved?
Carlina Brown: I started off in the Head Start Program.
You have to do your volunteerism.
And I was at a table with four-year-olds
doing shaving cream.
And I said there's got to be something else I could do
because I just don't do this.
The teacher says, well, we do need a representative
to represent the parents to this next level.
I was like, I could do that, that I could do.
So it started off and I worked my way up into a state
representation, doing that and then also being a contractor
with ACFS doing auditing.
We went to different programs and did auditing for parent
involvement and social services.
And then from there, when all my kids got
through Head Start, we were moved into
a smaller town.
And the school really didn't need advocacy work like what
I was doing.
So I did other things, managing cheer programs,
being involved in my church with the students
and things like that.
Then when I moved into Seattle after losing my job and was
hoping I can get work by moving into the city,
I was unemployed and went to Rainier Beach High School.
And my vice president and secretary were all there.
They were all recruiting.
They gave you this list.
It says, what are your skills?
I go, I could do this, I could do this, I could do this,
I could do this, I could do this.
And they were like, you know what,
you might as well come to a meeting.
Next thing you know, I was involved.
And there was a lot of work already being done.
But because I was able to give a lot of time and I was on my last
child so I didn't have a lot of things at home,
I can go to the school.
And so that's how it all got started.
And then the next year, I was voted in as
president surprisingly.
It was like okay, so what does this happen?
So a lot of the work, the pavement was already made.
I just joined a very powerful locomotive.
And we went forward with that.
Hallie Schneir: That's great.
And it sounds like it was an organization that you were able,
as you moved were able to stay with it.
And that was something, the support there.
Carlina Brown: Yes.
We walk as one.
We always have talking points.
We have the talking points down.
We meet, and we are one voice.
So we are synonymous with Rainier Beach High School.
And when you hear the names of Carlina Brown, Rita Green,
LaCretiah Claytor, it's plus Rainier Beach High School.
It's always -- that's addition.
So we are always representing and always wearing our orange
and blue.
Hallie Schneir: I love it.
And Calvin, you have a very interesting story,
how you got started.
Calvin Endo: Actually, I got railroaded into it.
Hallie Schneir: Maybe a lot of people here
can relate actually, but are glad they did.
And remind us where you're from.
Calvin Endo: Let me start with this.
I worked for the Navy for 30 something years.
And I just felt led by God to leave the shipyard,
took an early retirement at age 51,
and go help the high school because they were getting into
smaller learning communities, having kids focus on their
goals and the future for job, employment.
I felt it was a good time for me to be there,
have someone from the business world be a part of the school.
And my wife and I, we have 11 children.
So we really watch education.
And 28 grandchildren, as you heard earlier.
So we were looking at the school to see how can we get involved
and make a change and just support the school.
And we were on the school council and we felt,
something is not happening with parent involvement.
And we found out there was a PTA.
This couple, they were special ed teachers.
They kept it going.
So we asked, oh, can we be part of it?
And they said, oh sure.
They said, you want to take it over?
(laughter) So my wife agreed.
I didn't want anything to do with it because I was already on
our neighborhood board chairing the education committee.
I work closely with all the churches in my community,
working with the youth, very involved.
And it just so happened our state came up with this policy
saying if you're DOE, Department Of Education employee,
you cannot hold a position where you can sign checks.
So my wife says well, I guess instead of her
becoming the president -- they needed a check signer,
so she decided she'll take the secretary or treasurer job --
maybe the treasurer job at that time.
We had another person take the secretary job.
And she looked at me and says, would you like to
be the president?
Hallie Schneir: And you never looked back?
Calvin Endo: And I never looked back.
And when our kids was at the middle school,
we checked if the middle school had a PTSA going.
They had one.
It was not active, so we got it active again.
And at that point, the state office began to say,
Calvin Endo, he's the president of the high school and now he's
involved with resurrecting the intermediate,
let's invite him to the state board.
Hallie Schneir: Finding you out.
Calvin Endo: That's kind of how I got involved.
And I'm kind of glad I did.
Hallie Schneir: I think folks out by you
probably can say the same.
That's a great story.
Emily, can you tell us a little more how you got involved?
And remind us where you're from.
Emily Sack: I am from Michigan.
Our children go to Milford -- in Milford,
Michigan to Kurtz Elementary.
I started off -- I have twins.
And when they started off in kindergarten and first,
I was successful to kind of avoid the whole PTA thing.
I'm being honest here.
And you kind of -- when you're someone that likes to help you
can't avoid it, I think.
It gets to that point where you go,
I can't just sit on the sidelines and go, yeah,
you guys handle that.
And it got to a point where we had a need to
fill board members.
And my husband said you should do it.
And I said, okay, if you're sure.
And here I am.
Hallie Schneir: That's great to hear.
And Sharon, how about you?
Sharon Whitworth: Mine is probably a
little different story.
I also tried to start when my child was in kindergarten.
And I was very backward and shy.
Somebody said the other day, shy, that's you?
But, yes I was.
I wouldn't even go to the grocery store by myself.
But when my five-year-old decided he was going to
kindergarten -- or he didn't decide,
but he was going to kindergarten -- I took
him and my three-year-old with me to the school.
And when I went into the kindergarten class, I actually,
among other kindergarten parents, was told,
we don't need you all, we have college educations,
we don't want volunteers.
And a lot of us of course went home and cried.
I cried because I was an at-home mom and I wanted to be involved
in my child's education.
And a couple days later, the principal called and said,
we don't do that in our school.
I don't know why that particular person told you that, come back.
And I did.
I went back.
And from there, it led to just being involved in being in the
district, realizing the district was very important.
My son, when he got in high school, said, mom,
are you going to be PTA president when I get in college?
And I said -- (laughter) -- that's a good idea, son.
That's a really good idea.
And then I realizeed that part of my goal was to get other
parents involved in their child's education,
because it was an important thing to do.
Hallie Schneir: Good for you for having
the strength for that.
That's fantastic.
How about you, rounding this out?
Melissa Kicklighter: Well, it's probably a mixture
of a little bit of everything.
I was traditional in the sense that my oldest child -- I have
three children in school, actually I have twins, as well.
Hallie Schneir: They're your youngest.
Melissa Kicklighter: They are my youngest, yes.
My -- I'm from Jacksonville, Florida.
And my -- the agreement with my husband and I at the time was
that I was actually going to be the school advisory council
parent and get involved that way,
and he was going to be the PTA dad.
Well, that lasted for one meeting and then somehow I
was needing to go for him because he was working.
And so pretty soon, I was doing both and he was like, good,
honey, you are doing great, you just keep doing that.
(laughter) Which I'm sure is just because he thought I was
doing a great job.
But -- and from there, you know, just kind of felt the waters
a little bit.
I was volunteering in my son's kindergarten class and some
other volunteers came up to me and said, you know,
would you like to actually take a position on the board?
And I said, sure, you know, just something real little.
And so I started, went into the summer and I was going to
be the sun shine math coordinator, you know,
just do the little ditto sheets and score them and
I can do that.
And then by the time the summer was over, I was the treasurer,
so I guess my math skills -- which my children would
disagree with -- somehow became a gift to them.
And then I went from being treasurer to somehow then
becoming president.
And actually, I was very blessed in that I had some very kind
people from my elementary school -- I shouldn't say mine,
my children's elementary school -- who actually encouraged me
and said it would really be nice to see you take your vision to a
larger stage.
And we were very blessed in our school to have a large
volunteer population.
And it was just a matter of guiding them.
And then when I reached out to other schools within a
very large school district that we're in,
I realized the need was huge.
And that's when I moved on to district level of involvement
and now I'm blessed to be at the state level, as well.
Hallie Schneir: Oh, that's fantastic.
Thank you so much.
Those are great stories that I'm sure everyone here and at home
can relate to.
And something that in reading everyone,
all of our champions have written some pieces on the work
that they do and a little bit about how they got there.
If you haven't had a chance, it's actually White, and everyone's been kind enough
to sort of author a piece about their experience.
And something that was the most interesting that I think would
be helpful to a lot of folks here are the stories about
increased engagement, and sort of what's worked, what hasn't.
You know, I was telling folks before,
I was pretty heartened that there wasn't a lot
of I have 90,000 Twitter followers sort of thing.
But that really getting -- engaging with people on a
very personal level.
So Ana, I think you were -- I think it was your story,
talking about saying yes and getting started.
Ana Chapman: Yes.
Hallie Schneir: So what are some things that have worked in
terms of engagement and that sort of thing where you are?
Ana Chapman: Well, in our case,
we combined this last school year was the first school year
of this new school that I'm the president at right now.
And it was very important to us that we took the traditions from
the three schools that we were merging into one,
as well as starting new traditions.
So that planning started over a year before the building
was even built.
And we were lucky to find great people from each of those school
communities who were willing to serve on the board.
And together, we got together and started brainstorming how
were we going to get people involved in this school and
care about this new school, because everyone was stuck
to their old one.
So we just -- I strongly believe in, if you build it,
they will come.
And we did everything we could think of.
We started emails.
We started, you know, we were in the newspaper.
We -- Facebook and Twitter.
Word of mouth, saying to people, this is a new PTA,
we have new people, we care about what
everybody wants and we want you to come on board and support us.
And they started coming.
Also, just asking people instead of just sending them a letter,
asking them, saying, you'd be good at this.
And we've built up quite a volunteer base, which is great.
And not only parents, but also so many grandparents that either
are parenting right now or they just live in the community.
And also friends, dads, we have a huge dad population, too.
Hallie Schneir: Oh, that's great.
Ana Chapman: That's great.
Hallie Schneir: And who -- I think, Emily,
was it you who started BUDS?
Melissa, do you want to talk a little bit about BUDS and share
recruitment experiences there?
Melissa Kicklighter: Absolutely.
As I said before, our volunteer population at my children's
elementary school, and again, this was about a decade ago,
we had volunteers but they were primarily of
the female persuasion.
So -- which is traditional.
And -- but we realized that there were dads who were kind
of there but not necessarily doing something specific.
And we -- I had honestly had a lot of interaction and learning
through leadership convention and leadership conference and
learned more about, you know, how to engage men into the
schools and in finding other ways of doing it.
And so I thought, well, you know, maybe we'll try that.
Well, to be honest, this was my way of getting my husband back
-- or, I mean, getting him reengaged after I had kind
of headed in the PTA route, as well.
And so when I became the PTA president, I kind of said,
looked at him, and I said, you know,
it would be really nice if we had you guys in here and what do
you think of starting something to increase male involvement?
So what we did is we created what we call the BUDS club,
which is brothers, uncles, dads, et cetera.
And we put out there an interest form and just really asked for
some different kinds of things, not just can you come in and
move furniture.
But what else, you know, do you have a particular gift?
Might you be able to help with technology or a career day or
what other gifts and talents might you have to share with us
because we're looking for new program ideas?
And their response was tremendous.
We also had some dads that we knew reach out personally and
ask other dads, hey, listen, I'm going to go do this,
what do you think, do you want to join me?
And it just really snowballed into something that became about
every other month program, from -- everything from dads
coming in and having a pancake pigout with their kids before
school to coming in and reading to classes before school,
just a few minutes with them.
And that connection was huge.
And kids were just elated, because maybe where some of them
had had their moms, you know, go on field trips or be there a
little bit more often, all of a sudden dads were connected, too.
And it was really a family affair.
Hallie Schneir: Oh, that's great.
That's terrific.
And Emily, I know you were -- talked a little bit about
reluctance getting in and so how have you managed to hook other
people in with you?
Emily Sack: Well, I think the biggest thing is talking to people,
just being there, being a friendly
face at the school.
I'm not a big go up and force people into things.
But I find that just making friendships with people and
just hearing what they're going through,
and especially with finding like,
talking about the BUDS program, I wish I had pen and paper,
I want to write that down.
Kelly, I know you're watching, white that down.
(laughter) Now I lost my train of thought.
But, you know, just getting together with people.
And I think just treating people kindly, it's the kindness is,
I try and go back to that.
It really is where people get kind of caught up in what their
agenda is or what they want to do.
And when you take the time to sit back and go, oh, okay,
so that's kind of we're at -- I'm going through that, too,
and you can kind of relate in some ways or you can just hear
the story.
And I think that that helps a lot that then people,
when they talk to someone that I'll say on a real level,
they feel a little more comfortable about
getting involved.
Because like I said, I was a little reluctant
getting involved in the PTA.
But then when you see and when you are interacting with people
and you realize that it's really kind of fun and that it's a
positive thing and it's ultimately for the kids.
Hallie Schneir: That's fantastic.
And I know, Carlina, in I picture Seattle as this very --
I haven't been in a very long time -- very bustling,
highly caffeinated place where every -- all of the parents are
extremely busy, you know, and getting anyone for five minutes
has to be just really a labor of love.
Carlina Brown: Yes.
Hallie Schneir: So what's working out by you?
Carlina Brown: Well, I hope -- yeah,
I was going to hope you asked this question,
because one of the things that we are extremely busy.
We have what we call day jobs, professional jobs.
And so a lot of our time is evening time,
in the middle of the night, lots of emails,
we're big social media users and there -- it's not unusual for us
to have within an hour 30 emails amongst us back and forth having
conversations that way.
So that is something we do regularly.
And we have solved the world's problem doing that, trust me,
and planned parties that way.
But one of the things that we have done is we have -- we
advocate so strongly for parent engagement and we received an
opportunity from the state of Washington and our school was
chosen to receive a million dollars.
And it's a one time gift that we are going -- we're hoping to
use to transform our school and bring in some capacity
and some things.
And one of the things that the PTSA did was write a job
description for a parent engagement coordinator.
And we presented that with basically a very strong arm
is basically how we do things.
You cannot tell us no.
There's just absolutely no way to tell us no.
We do a lot of research.
And we do, because of our professional jobs,
a lot of us come with an experience on how to create and
do this kind of work.
And so we were able to create a job description and that person
is -- their main job is to do parent engagement and to engage,
because we use -- you lose a lot of parents in the high
school level.
So it's to get those parents back into the classrooms and
into the school and hopefully they'll come to PTSA meetings by
being encouraged.
But that really is in having a full-time position with that.
And hopefully -- and we're -- actually two schools received
this in our school district, received this money.
And both schools are adopting our job description
and doing that.
But that was one of the things we've been doing.
Hallie Schneir: That's fantastic.
Carlina Brown: And help with that, yeah.
Hallie Schneir: Oh, wow.
That's great.
And I'm going to move over to Sharon and ask,
it sounds like you've been active,
sort of seeing it through and through high school.
Sharon Whitworth: Through high school and the district.
And I want to say, I'm from Kentucky.
I don't think I said that at the beginning.
Hallie Schneir: Yes.
Sharon Whitworth: But at the district level,
because I'm the project team leader from a great grant that
the national PTA gave us for the common core state standards.
We are reaching out to get parents engaged in
their children's education.
Because that's really, really important.
And one of the great tools is the parent guides that national
has for the common core state standards.
And in doing over 50 workshops and 10,000 people since October,
we were able to get those guides out and engage parents in their
children's education.
Because the tools on the back where it talks about things that
you can do at home with your child and that grade level with
that common core state standards is just wonderful
tools for parents.
And I think that's important.
We've got to build relationships with parents and we get them
involved in their education, show them what PTA can do.
They become involved in the PTA, and that engages them.
Hallie Schneir: Oh, that's great.
And Calvin, how about by you?
Calvin Endo: You know, I don't have a
large membership but I do a large community base support.
And that's been kind of cool.
When I asked the businesses, the stores around us,
I need this for our teachers.
I can't see, you know, like McDonald's, I told them,
I cannot see our teachers going and buying cups for
refreshments, will you support me?
So now our local McDonald's, I can ask
them for anything, right.
And they give me cases of cups and whatever I ask for.
It's kind of awesome.
Hallie Schneir: It is.
Calvin Endo: And the two local stores, when I asked them,
they'll give me whatever I ask for.
We had one business that I asked the metal shop teacher, he goes,
because with the cuts, you know, they cannot afford purchasing
the supplies like they used to.
And metal is expensive.
So I asked him, who's the supplier for the school?
And he gave me that name.
So I wrote the guy, the company, and he says, what do you want,
So I went back to the teacher, what do you need?
So I wrote him a letter.
He gave me, I mean, thousands of dollars
of material for the shop.
So, you know, we have great community members out there.
One lady, I need to give a shout out to.
And some of you might want to pick up on this lady.
She's a real estate agent, right.
And one day she was watching the news and they were talking about
the schools struggling.
And she said, God, somebody has to help them.
And this is what she tells me.
She says, God, told her why don't you help them?
So you know what she did in her local area?
She went to the schools and said,
what are some of your needs?
So she made a list and made a website,
she sent it out to the businesses she knew on
that side of the island.
The businesses came back and says, we got it.
She made the news, right, because she was doing that.
Now she's doing the whole state, it's called communities
supporting schools.
Hallie Schneir: Communities supporting schools?
Calvin Endo: Yes.
So now she's launched the whole state and getting businesses.
She always calls me because, besides picking up stuff for
myself a lot of times I'm picking up things
for other schools.
So you know, community based people are willing to give,
just right, you mentioned you have community came and helped
we build that school, you know.
So they're out there.
Hallie Schneir: That's a beautiful story,
and reminds us that we don't know until we ask, right.
I know this is a good community of askers.
So now it -- we are reminded it's, you know,
sort of back to school season and getting ready.
So as we close it out, what are -- what's your favorite project
that you're headed back to?
And we'll just do kind of a lightning round going
down starting with Emily.
Emily Sack: Oh, boy.
Hallie Schneir: Or one that you've worked on
previously that's continuing.
Emily Sack: Jeez.
Hallie Schneir: We can start at the other end, too.
Emily Sack: Yeah, that would be great.
Ana Chapman: I stopped thinking there for a minute.
Calvin Endo: That's the hot potato.
Ana Chapman: Actually, I'm looking forward
to our monthly family events.
We provide monthly family events for our 850 families at little
or no cost to them.
And it may be a dance or the first one is a big hot dog
cookout outside.
And we're from Cleveland, Ohio, and it's not, you know,
the warmest climate.
But last year, the day we did it, it was 97 degrees.
Hallie Schneir: Oh, my gosh.
Ana Chapman: But we served 1100 hot dogs
and everybody had a great time.
So every month it's something different.
This year we're looking forward to a culture fest
and a family game night.
Hallie Schneir: That will be great.
Ana Chapman: So that's what I'm excited about.
Hallie Schneir: Terrific.
Carlina, how about you?
Carlina Brown: So I just graduated my last four,
and so I'm kind of excited to not have to do the senior year
all over again.
So but I am really looking forward to continuing this
Champions of Change for raynard beach high school
is huge for us.
We have a community that has been silent for many different
reasons and we could spend all day about it.
But this is really large.
So I'm really looking forward to taking this award and just
making it shine in south end Seattle and really seeing what
-- because we've put in a lot of hours,
it's been a lot of hard work and it's been a lot of debate and a
lot of conversations, and sometimes very
hard conversations.
But this is a lot of validation for the work we've been doing.
And it has not -- it's not that it's not been seen because we
definitely have been getting a lot.
And as more we speak out, the more people come to us.
But this has been true validation.
So I'm really excited to take this back home and push further.
Hallie Schneir: Excellent.
Well, thank you so much for being here and for sharing
your stories.
Carlina Brown: Thank you.
Hallie Schneir: We appreciate it.
Calvin, what's up next?
Calvin Endo: A couple things.
Just recently, the Department of Education Hawaii really is going
to push parent involvement.
So they called Liz Seger, our president,
and she lives on another island, and met with her and later on
she informed us PTA is going to be very involved
with the Department of Education in that area.
And they hooked us up with another group called,
the acronym is HEE, H-E-E.
It's called, it's a cool name, Hui for Excellence in Education.
They've been wanting us on the table for a while.
And this is a group of people, this has been educators,
special education people that want education to be excellent
in Hawaii.
So they meet together to discuss what are some of the things
we're going to bring to our legislators to get support.
The very next day when I get back on Tuesday,
I got a meeting with them.
We're going to tackle one of the things we talked about in our
workshop, bullying, and how it ties into suicide and why is it
that the state does this survey that's showing high bullying
high school site but there's really not much education or
support at the teacher level and admin level to deter these
things are happening.
So we're going to tackle that the very next day when
I get back.
Hallie Schneir: Nice.
That's good to hear.
And Melissa, how about you?
In addition to BUDS, you've got a couple other things going on,
I imagine?
Melissa Kicklighter: Well, yeah, well,
besides three teenagers at home.
Hallie Schneir: Oh, my gosh.
Melissa Kicklighter: Hi, guys.
First of all, I am transitioning to put my primary focus on the
State of Florida, which is exciting.
But to be honest, and of course being an active volunteer within
the community.
But a couple of things that I do want to share,
because I'm very proud of the work that was done,
all the way through my children's elementary school
career, nine years, the thing I'm probably most
proud of is the faculty partnership with PTA.
Because I truly believe that while we are, you know,
the people who can be kind and welcome people and invite them
to be part of what we do, we have to have a strong
partnership with the faculty of our schools because they're
the ones doing the work in the trenches.
And if we partner together, they have the subject matter
education expertise to provide the high quality programming and
to share that information that parents need.
And we can be kind of the conduit through which that can
happen, because we welcome the people in and we can do the
logistical stuff.
We can make the asks to get the support from the community to
maybe, you know, have food, have a fun parent and child
student night.
So that work, I think, is just critical.
Because the work that's happening in our schools every
day is really just the foundation of everything in PTA.
Without that, everything else we do doesn't exist.
But probably the program that while I'll be
distantly involved with it, I'm very, very proud of,
is what we created over the last few years in our district in
Duval County, and that's the superintendent's leadership
academy, where we went back to our roots of advocacy with
our students.
Because as we were starting to become stronger advocates and
learning better how to do that, especially through the support
of the national PTA and the common core state standards
initiative, we were reaching out to parents.
And then we started listening to student stories and we realized
they can tell the story better than anybody.
And so we went back and we said let's go back to our student
leadership focus and we reached out to all of our high schools
within the district.
We asked our principals to nominate students to come in
and be part of the student leadership training and learn
how to be advocates themselves.
We used some of the common core, we used some other great
information, community resources came in.
And now those students now travel to Tallahassee and
tell the story.
And they work with our state legislator.
They're the ones involved with social media in every aspect,
because they know it all better than we do.
And they are out there, they're tweeting, they're on Facebook,
they're showing up outside of restaurants when they find out
there's a state legislator in town and they're going out there
and saying can we get a minute and can we talk to you.
They're fighting the fight and we're there to now support them.
And what's happening is the parents are getting more engaged
because they're kids are engaged.
And even now I have elementary school and middle school kids
that are saying I can't wait until I get to high school so I
can be part of that, too.
So while, you know, the torch has passed and I'm confident I
know this will continue and we have great people who will do
it, it's probably the most powerful program that I've
been a part of.
Hallie Schneir: That is so cool.
Sharon Whitworth: Well, Kentucky,
as a lot of you all might know, was the first state to sign on
to the common core state standards.
And we're the first state that has tested.
So we just tested this past spring.
So one of our biggest goals is, is to reach out to all of our
parents, not only in our district where we have our
grant, but also in the state, to tell the parents about the
accountability and the testing, what the scores are going to be
because, you know, with the new standards,
scores could be a little bit lower.
We've got to encourage parents to make them understand that
that's okay.
So that's going to be a big thing of our project this year.
I have my team leaders back here.
Couldn't do it without my team.
But we already got 25 schools just in our district that want
us to come do common core state standard workshops.
So that's going to be a really big, big focus.
We do brown bags.
We're going to be doing those brown bags with businesses for
their parents during their lunch hour because we know that not
every parent can come to the school.
We're reaching out to a lot of our churches in our district,
working with them and community leaders.
So we've got a lot to go, lot to do.
Calvin Endo: Great.
Hallie Schneir: That's fantastic.
And Emily?
Emily Sack: I think the biggest thing, and Ana said it,
is the family events.
I think that's where, first of all,
you can gather more people for the PTA.
But it's also, I think, the thing that the kids
look forward to the most are those activities.
And just one, for example, we started last year was a
taco night right around Cinco De Mayo.
It was on the 4th, so it was Cuatro De Mayo.
And -- unofficially.
And we had the greatest time with it.
And it was a free event for the school.
And with the economy and budget cuts and all that,
it was just one of those little things that we could give back
to the families and to give back to the school and continuing
with doing those.
Hallie Schneir: That's fantastic to hear.
Well, these have all been incredible stories.
Again, you can read them.
If there were things you missed or things you wanted to circle
back, White will have everybody's stories
on them.
Take notes, duplicate, and I know Kyle will make
sure everyone knows how to find them.
But just one more giant round of applause for all
of our champions.
You guys are incredible.
All right.
Are we good?
Thank you, guys, so much.
Speaker: All right.
Thank you, guys.
So I just want to close out the day with a couple of things.
First off, just so you all know, the entire day that you saw,
either if you were watching online or for those of our folks
here today in person.
There's going to be a you tube video of the whole day so you'll
be able to watch that when you go home and share that with
friends and family.
As Hallie mentioned, White is going to
have all this information up and the information on all of our
incredible champions.
But I'm going to leave today and close out today with an ask for
each and every one of you here and for all of those watching
online, we need your help.
We need your help to tell the story.
We need you to tweet about it, keep tweeting about it with
hash tag whpta.
We need you to blog about it.
We need you to write about it.
We need you to grab two or three or ten folks at the grocery
store when you get home and tell the story about your day
at the White House.
Tell them about the Champions of Change.
And there are three reasons that I ask you all to do this.
I'm sure each of you heard an idea today that you hadn't
heard before.
And the best way that ideas spread is through the networks,
the families, the communities, that all of you in here today
are a part of.
And the second reason is you heard a lot of examples of how
this administration is trying to work with all of you,
the things we're trying to do in the education space
and things we have done.
And there's a budget debate going on in this country and you
all heard a lot about it today.
And your voices are the most important in this conversation.
And only way we're going to win this debate and win,
and make sure that education funding is a priority moving
forward is if you all make this conversation as local as you
possibly can.
If you tell folks what this means for your school,
what this means for your community and you guys really
have a huge opportunity to do that coming out of here today.
And the third reason is pretty simple.
No matter what end of the partisan line you fall on,
I think we can all agree that we need more people around the
country to know that they can be change makers in their
communities, to know that they can make a difference.
And if you all tell the stories about your day at the White
House, about the change that you're making on a daily basis,
about our incredible Champions of Change,
there's going to be more folks around the country who know that
they can make a difference if they get involved with their
schools, with their communities, with their
families and their friends.
So those are my asks.
That concludes our live stream for today.
Really incredible to have you all here today.
Thank you so much to Betsy.
Thank you so much to all of our Champions of Change.
Let's give them one more round of applause.