Change can only happen through education. And, because of that, I am a defender and supporter of education in my roles as teacher, mom, PTA leader, and community member.
PTA has been an integral part of my life since 2004, when my oldest daughter entered kindergarten. As a teacher, I knew the importance of parents being involved in schools, but as a parent, this involvement took on a whole new meaning. Now, it was my child who, out of my care, was being shaped and taught life lessons. I knew I needed to be a part of that and, for me, PTA was the obvious avenue.
On that evening in 2004, surrounded by PTA women whom I had just met, I raised my hand and said "yes." "Yes" to coordinate the bowl-a-thon team for the elementary school's PTA. But from that day on, I have continued to proudly say "Yes." "Yes" to creating monthly family events for the school. "Yes" to chairing the 1st annual "Take Your Family to School Week." "Yes" to being president of my son's school PTA and "yes" to taking the next step and leading the school district's PTA Council as well as getting involved with PTA at the state level.
Most recently, two years ago, I said "yes" to becoming the first president of the Grindstone Elementary School PTA. This was a new school, combining four smaller elementary schools into one larger one. It was daunting to try to build one community, when many parents and community members felt an allegiance to their previous neighborhood schools. But, with the help of the other members of the PTA Executive Board, we were able to mold the students and parents into one cohesive group, setting the tone for the entire Grindstone Community. Now, students and parents love their new school, and the transition felt amazingly seamless. This is just one example of why I believe in the power of PTA.
Yet, my involvement does not stop with PTA. I quickly became engaged in my community as an Education Foundation trustee, chair of school levy campaigns, member of the Committee for Good Schools and president of my daughter's gymnastics boosters.
Am I busy? Yes, but it is all worth it! I have heard people say that our generation of parents does not get involved in their schools and communities, and I stand up to prove those naysayers wrong. And, I am happy to say that I am not alone. This past year our elementary school's PTA members gave over 6,750 volunteer hours to our children. As president of this organization, I am proud to have led such a fantastic group of moms, dads, grandparents, and community members.
Not everyone needs to be involved in PTA as much as I am, but I feel that every parent should be involved in his/her child's life and education in meaningful ways. Some choose to do this through scouting, coaching, music, or church organizations. And to that I say, Bravo!
Our nation's children need us to stand up and say "Yes!"
Ana Chapman has been recognized by the White House as a Champion of Change for her work in the PTA.