The School District of Philadelphia is fortunate to have parents, caregivers and teachers who are dedicated to educating and caring for our students. At Charles W. Henry Elementary School, located in Mt. Airy, we have a wonderful school community and one of our best assets is our PTA.
I decided to join the PTA shortly after my son entered kindergarten in the Fall of 2017. At that point, I wasn’t exactly sure how the PTA functioned within the school community, but I wanted to get involved and decided joining the PTA was the first step.
PTA stands for Parent-Teacher Association. While most schools have a Home and School Association or other parent and teacher volunteer opportunities, there are only two schools in the Philadelphia school district that have a PTA. CW Henry is one of those schools!
The PTA is a national organization and there are more than 20,000 PTA units across the country. It is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being an influential voice for all children and families.
At CW Henry, we have a PTA board that is led by a president and includes members that are responsible for encouraging membership, facilitating communication with the school community, and closely monitoring and maintaining record of our finances. All board members must be elected, and they are also subject to term limits. This is to ensure that we are in keeping with the national bylaws and that we are providing opportunities for all members of our school community to serve in PTA leadership roles.
Our PTA works to support our families and our teachers in several ways including fundraising, holding community meetings and providing resources. For example, our PTA helped to fund a playground renovation that included new safety padding and playground equipment for our students. We also helped to fund the Playworks program that provided instruction on conflict resolution and building leadership skills through play.
During a recent meeting, parents expressed concerns about virtual learning and students returning to the school building. In that meeting, we were a sounding board for frustration, but we also provided direction to those parents, so they have a clear path to getting their questions and concerns addressed.
Our PTA also works with our School Advisory Council (SAC), another wonderful asset to our school community, to better serve our students and families. Recently, our SAC has been working on efforts to promote racial equity in our school. While the SAC helps create our school policies, the PTA can assist with promoting and supporting the action items the SAC determines as next steps toward our overall goal to make our school a more equitable community.
Like other school groups, our PTA has adjusted to changes in school operations due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Our meetings are conducted online now, and we are more aware of the concerns and frustrations our families and teachers are experiencing because of the changes to our daily lives.
The CW Henry school community is still navigating through these changes but having our PTA as a companion on this journey has been invaluable.
For more information and to find details on starting a PTA at your school, please visit www.pta.org.
The PTA also has a podcast! “Notes from the Backpack” has several episodes available on topics ranging from partnering with your child’s teacher to school finance.