The True Value

The True Value of Associations in Times of Trouble and Uncertainty

Association trends continue to indicate Americans are joining less and do not always understand the value of membership. Households where adults work more than one job and personal declarations of “not enough time” all make it challenging for associations to maintain, let alone grow, membership.

In recent years, things moved along nicely – job growth was up, unemployment was down, and the stock market yielded amazing results. Most Americans were feeling pretty good about the state of the country. Then came an announcement that rocked the world – a severe, possibly deadly virus that would make its way from country to country. A pandemic. Suddenly, our economic euphoria fell to anxiousness, fear, and worry. Americans now wake up and go to bed hearing the same word – Coronavirus.

In the midst of panic, the first groups to offer solutions for our kids were educators and PTAs. School districts and teachers quickly moved to offer curricula online, and PTAs mobilized to help provide meals and resources to students.

It’s easy in the good times to feel we don’t need nonprofit associations or a community of others, but what do we say now? Belonging to your Council and Local PTAs provides a network of support, love, and encouragement when others are throwing up their hands. We’ve heard it time and again: it’s not about the crisis, it’s about how we respond to it.

Belonging and joining do matter. PTAs and educators are driven by a selfless desire to help their students and communities. They are an army bearing no armor yet equipped with an arsenal of personal gifts and tireless motivation.

It is my hope that we will see a growing trend of more Americans joining PTA – supporting their communities and proactively, not reactively, realizing we are stronger together.

Hopefully, there will never be another pandemic in our children’s lifetime, but undoubtedly, there will be something again challenging us to work together. Let’s face it head-on as PTA.

Time Waits for No One

This morning, as I was out for my early morning walk, there were signs of school starting everywhere. I saw school buses, more traffic than usual, people in a hurry, and of course, back to school “first day” photos staged in front yards. I saw a mom capturing the smile of her elementary-aged daughter and a high schooler boasting her new letter jacket – on a very hot Texas morning, I should add.

It was eye-opening. The two short blocks between these photos underscored how quickly time goes by and how fast our children go from elementary to high school. Just as the country song by Kenny Chesney, “Don’t Blink,” reminds us, our children sail from kindergarten to a senior in high school in a blink of an eye.

One of my sons is a college graduate now and has started his career. My second son is a college sophomore. As a parent, I’m passed those back to school days, but on mornings like today, these proud parents remind me how fast the years go. I fondly remember the hustle and bustle the night before school starts. And then the rushing around the next morning – preparing breakfast, packing lunches, and making sure their clothes and hair were neat and presentable. With so much stress and activity, we were all exhausted by day one.

A tip to parents: don’t miss the special moments. Slow down. Watch and listen. When your child comes home and talks about their day, put down your phone, sit, and REALLY listen. Speaking from experience, someday you will look back and ask yourselves, “Why did I rush so much?”

Get to know your children’s teachers. Establish communication with them. Get involved, even if you can’t physically go to the school on a regular basis. Not every volunteer job requires being at school. Technology provides a wonderful way to be involved in your child’s education. Time and time again there’s evidence that parent engagement equals student success. It’s easy to say, “I don’t have time.” I say, “We can’t afford to not make time.”

Our children will often act like they don’t want us at school, and that’s particularly true during the middle and high school years. But I believe they really do like us there, even if they don’t acknowledge it on the spot!

The 180 days of each school year really do pass quickly. Be present for your children because someday you will be just like me, recalling those days gone by and watching others living your best years.

Beaming with Pride

I can’t think of a better place to volunteer than with PTA. As I reflect on this past school year, I am so incredibly proud of the accomplishments of all our volunteers.

Texas PTA is leading the nation in membership growth.

This year’s Rally Day saw record attendance with over 2,500 public education advocates including 1,000 students – a turnout envied by many associations and advocacy groups.

The robust response to legislative alerts and calls to action by our volunteers warms my heart. PTA does so much more than talk the talk – we walk the walk!

I beam with pride with each volunteer post on social media – showcasing the great work our Council and Local PTAs are doing. I was in awe of everything our campuses did to make Texas educators feel special and appreciated during Teacher Appreciation Week.

This past school year was indeed an incredible year for PTA in Texas. And we never stop, not even during the summer. We are on a destined path for success. I am so excited to see our volunteers at our state’s premier summer event – LAUNCH, this year at The Gaylord Texan in Grapevine. The Gaylord is one of my very favorite staycations in Texas and our attendees are in for a real treat!

Several years back when we unveiled the new branding campaign, back the future, we had great expectations and aspirations for growing PTA membership in Texas. Not only have we grown membership, but we have also heightened awareness about the PTA brand and the value we bring to Texas public schools. As we close out another school year, we do so with great hope and optimism for our future. And to those who say, “I’m just a volunteer,” let me say you are not just a volunteer – you are a role model, a leader, and someone a child is counting on to be successful.

Here’s to the 2019-2020 school year!