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At the first Center Township Elementary Parent Teacher Association (PTA) meeting I went to, all I wanted was to be a bug with wings and fly out of the room. I seemed to be the odd mom out; young, inexperienced and the only person there who did not have any friends. Then I met Paula Scott, a mom years older than myself who recognized I was desperate to fill a void in my life, and she knew I could help fill a need for our local PTA. Soon, I was eager to work with the organization to meet the goals of helping our local school district.

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Sure, I helped raise money, but it was not all about the money. Even though the PTA is viewed by many Americans as a fundraiser organization to support the needs of the local school districts helping, I’ve found my time in the PTA just as important to my personal development. I, like so many Americans, viewed the PTA as a Fund raising organization. I have many fond memories of my school days seeing my own mother in the halls of our elementary school on holiday party days, school field trips or just seeing her get dressed up to go attend one of our local PTA meetings.

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My understanding of what the PTA was implanted from memories of moms holding the monthly meetings, fundraisers or school holiday parties but never seeing behind the scenes of what the back bone of the association provides our schools and families across America. Like parents from generations before me, I joined my local PTA to build friendships in the school district. When my children were of school age, we moved into a small close knit community.

As the new young mom in the community, I needed to make a way to establish friends and a local support for group for my family. Outside of my small church family, I was lacking adult interaction, so I thought monthly PTA meetings would help fill my time. I was enjoying my time supporting our local school district through the PTA. With my new friend and PTA mentor Paula by my side, I quickly learned that with my participation in the local PTA, I was able to affect not only our local tudents but students’ nationwide. Although, organizing fundraisers and class parties can be challenging and rewarding, I found that the PTA also offered opportunities beyond local PTA committee involvement but gave access to attend State and National PTA Conferences. Every person who joins a local PTA is automatically entitled to memberships of both the state and National PTAs. (Why join the PTA, n. d) I have always been the mom who was adventurous with a supporting husband who welcomed opportunities for growth.

Since I had this support, I was able to attend out of town PTA conferences that help bring updated information to parents and grandparents back to our local PTA unit concerning child health and development issues. From the information I was able to gather from the conferences, the scope of the material shared at our local meetings was welcomed in our community. Our local membership increased by fifty percent as a result of the workshops I was presenting to our local parents about up to date child development and educational concerns that I had learned at the conferences.

The local Center Township parents were seeing the first time where the Parents and Teachers can effectively work together for the of their children’s education beyond the classroom parties. I am proud to say I played an active part in bringing depth and true meaning of PTA to the parents and grandparents of Center Township! I discovered inside the timid young mother of three, I was developing into a natural leader through my participation in the PTA. Along with the educational knowledge, I was gaining personal development. The PTA had opened political opportunities that I would never had dream to peruse before my time in the PTA.

As I was enjoying my community service through the PTA, I was also benefiting from my involvement and participation; I was able to build skill sets for my resume, become a public speaker without chocking the podium and started to feeling confident about myself for the first time in my adult life. Once I joined the workforce, I was able to apply my life skills learned during my affiliation with the PTA. In fact, the first promotion I received into management 15 years ago, was a direct result of a questioned answered based on my experience while in the PTA.

Finally, PTAs are great social outlets for parents and for giving the support our local schools with additional funding, The PTA’s also provide information from the state and national levels on up to date information to the parents and teachers so they can work together as a cohesive team for the success of all the children in our schools. I have found that my state and national PTA provided not only my school district with benefits but benefitted me with personal and educational growth as a parent, helping me be an active member of my community.

Why Join the PTA (2013). The PTA Advantage. Retrieved from http://www. .org/about/content.cfm?ItemNumber=3289

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Kylie Garcia

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