Page 1

the Georgia

Voice December 2011

What’s inside this issue? Messages from

Georgia PTA President, National PTA President, Georgia’s State School Superintendent Articles about

Membership, Diversity, Asian Outreach, Family Engagement, Just Between Friends, Male Involvement, Committee Updates and District Updates Helpful information

such as Important Dates, PTA Day at the Capitol and Youth Day Dates, Convention Leadership Training Information And much more!

Message from the georgia PTa President


n behalf of the Georgia PTA Board of Directors, welcome to the Winter 2011 edition of the Voice, Georgia PTA’s first electronic newsletter! Since July 17, 2011, this group of dynamic leaders has come together to become a strong team of 41. officers, district directors, committee chairs (standing and specialists) have targeted plansof-work in line with the initiatives of the Georgia PTA Strategic Plan. We are focused on enhancing our communications with PTA leaders and members, building leadership through ‘team’ strengthening, and reaching out to all parts of Georgia. our vision is that we connect to students, parents and educators— where they are, and be that vital resource that assists all of us through this time of education reform. Whether at home, in the classroom, or at the national level, all hands are on deck to ensure that all children have an opportunity to an equitable education and secure future.

support the good rally for atlanta Public schools Held on August 4, 2011 at Centennial Olympic Park, this rally brought the community together to cheer for all that is good in the city’s school district.

it is a tall order, it does take a lot of work, this is not an easy task to complete, there are issues that must be addressed, we all do not get along or agree. Who’s talking, who’s listening, who’s connecting, who’s getting it done. There is politics, some of it is good and some of it is not so good. however, as parents and leaders, at the end of the day—the most important thing … get the collaborative work we do for our children and our families right, learn from our mistakes and continue to move forward. Georgia PTA began with a board retreat at the end of July, which was our time to begin work as a team and it was a lot of fun. in August, we connected to community impact Day at the Kroc center Salvation Army, and the Support the Good Rally at centennial olympic Park. Rita and i attended the National PTA Governance Retreat. in September, we hosted the Advocacy conference at the State capitol, attended the Race, Gender, Discipline and Justice conference in Savannah, the Atlanta Braves Family Day game, and the “An America For All of Us” event at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration center. in october, we attended the “Follow the Money” Georgia School Board Association conference in Macon, the 3rd Annual Korean Festival at Suwanee Town center Park, and met with Atlanta habitat for humanity. in November, we participated in the Selena Sloan Park Dedication ceremony, hosted a PTA Leaders Roundtable at Zoo Atlanta and several PTA Universities, and collected and processed over 2,000 Reflections entries. honestly, this just captures the highlights! Looking ahead—we invite you to join us at the Atlanta Falcons Family Day, Family engagement conference in Athens, PTSA Youth Advocacy Day, PTA Day at the capitol, National PTA Legislative conference, Atlanta hawks Family Night, and convention Leadership Training 2012 in Athens. We look forward to seeing you at District Spring conferences, council PTA events and PTA Universities. We are an all volunteer association, serving students, families and local school communities. These events and conferences cause us to learn more about each other, showcase the good work being done in education, and become better leaders. We connect, identify needs, provide resources to build a foundation of support for students and families as they transition Kindergarten to graduation, and college and career ready; and to create sustainable, effective parent leadership in our schools. Sir isaac Newton, english Mathematician and Physicist, has said, “if i had seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” in PTA, we stand on the shoulders of giants, great leaders who came before us doing this very same work. My hope is that what we are doing today provides a platform and continues to pave the way for greatness tomorrow…so that, every child’s potential is a reality! Donna Kosicki, Georgia PTA President


special Thanks to our georgia PTa collaborative Partner


Georgia PTA « The Voice

Message from the National PTa President

PTA’s Foundation for Education Reform


s National PTA President, it is my privilege to attend and address conferences and summits on children and education to share the collective knowledge PTA has about parent involvement’s impact on student achievement. Recently, i attended education Nation, and i am pleased to report that there is widespread, urgent concern about the state of our education system. There is a very real desire to make meaningful reforms to improve the performance of our school systems and achieve better student outcomes. Never has there been a better time for PTA leaders, parents, and caregivers to speak out about what we know to be true—there can be no positive change without family engagement. We have seen numerous attempts at education reform, calls for new studies, pilot programs, and parent involvement offices opened in school districts to comply with No child Left Behind provisions. certainly, having more attention paid to education and family-school partnerships is good for our nation. But at PTA, we have had an evidence-based foundation for family-school partnerships for a very long time: our National Standards for Family-School Partnerships. in 1997, National PTA worked with Dr. Joyce L. epstein of Johns hopkins University to take the extensive research on parent and family involvement in education and develop what were then known as the National Standards for Parent/Family involvement Programs. The influence of the six standards spread as they were embraced by parents and educators across the country. The original National Standards have been adopted by nearly 100 organizations involved in work similar to ours, and even formed the basis for the definition of parent involvement in No child Left Behind. in 2007, National PTA updated the standards to go beyond the school’s role in encouraging parent involvement to include what parents, schools, and communities can all do together to support student success.

Consider the National Standards as they are today: Standard 1 – Welcoming all families Standard 2 – Communicating effectively Standard 3 – Supporting student success

As we come to the close of 2011 and reach the halfway mark of another exciting school year, i want to thank you personally—and on behalf of the entire PTA family—for all you do for children each and every day. You are an inspiration! May you have a healthy, happy holiday season! Betsy Landers, National PTA President

»»» attention all advocates for children. Mark Your calendars!

PTSA Day at the Capitol — designed to help high school students gain a better understanding of legislative issues affecting schools and how state and local decisions affect their daily lives as young adults. Registration $5.00 per student.

February 9, 2012 10 am - 12 pm Fulton County Government Center 141 Pryor Street SW Atlanta, GA Visit for Registration information and updates!

Standard 4 – Speaking up for every child Standard 5 – Sharing power Standard 6 – Collaborating with community it is clear that these standards form the simple, finite truth about family involvement and should be a basis for any attempts to reform education. however we choose to look at it, these core truths must be part of the fabric of meaningful reform. The latest issue of our children offers us practical reminders of the power of the National Standards in action, as well as the power of every member of PTA to start education reform right this very minute by putting the standards into practice.

December 2011


Message from the georgia state school superintendent

No Child Left Behind Moves Ahead


ithout doubt, the No child Left Behind Act (NcLB) was a step in the right direction for K-12 education. it forced us to look at the achievement of ALL students, disaggregated by subgroups, rather than just an average. Prior to NcLB, many of us thought our schools were doing a better job of educating all students than they actually were. one of the flaws with NcLB, however, is that since the focus was on a single test score, and because of very unrealistic measures like requiring that 100% of all students be proficient by 2014, many in the general public now think our schools are doing a terrible job of educating any of our students.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Many of our schools do a tremendous job educating students with the knowledge and skills they will need to be successful in the 21st century. Unfortunately, the current accountability process under NcLB gives our schools no credit for those successes. it limits their “progress” to a single test score given at a single point in time. We know that there is much more to educating a child than preparing him or her to pass a test.

We feel that Georgia has a new and vastly improved plan to effectively and appropriately measure the real progress of our schools, while increasing accountability.

That’s why Senator Johnny isakson and i recently met in Washington, D.c. to hand deliver a waiver of NcLB to U.S. education Secretary Arne Duncan. We feel that Georgia has a new and vastly improved plan to effectively and appropriately measure the real progress of our schools, while increasing accountability. We delivered an accountability plan called the college and career Ready Performance index (ccRPi). Georgia has been working on this index for over a year and it has been vetted throughout the state and beyond. This index will take us to the next level of accountability and allow us to give schools a grade that is comprehensive, meaningful, and easy to understand. it will look at various indicators designed to determine what schools are doing to prepare our students to be college and career Ready.

Secretary Duncan summed up our proposal well when he stated, “Georgia has a real chance to help lead the country where we need to go. Georgia did not use this as an opportunity to perpetuate the status quo, but to continue to push forward in a very thoughtful way.” i sincerely appreciate and am encouraged by Secretary Duncan’s willingness to let the states determine how they approach the guiding principles of accountability. We are strengthening our accountability while returning control to the states and local systems, something i agree with wholeheartedly. i want to be clear. Seeking a waiver of NcLB is in no way stepping backwards with respect to accountability. our schools are not afraid of accountability; they want to be held accountable for the full scope of work that they do and not just a test score. That is why we are seeking a waiver from NcLB. Dr. John Barge is Georgia’s State School Superintendent

Help parents in your schools start saving for college with a 529 plan Dear PTA leader, Do you know... • The national average of one year of college tuition and fees is $28,500 • The percentage of college costs paid by parents is 37% Are the parents in your schools ready for future college costs? More than ever, families need a plan to save for higher education. 529 college savings plans offer flexibility and simplicity—but too many families are unaware of their benefits. The Upromise college Fund 529 Plan offers tax advantages, a range of investment options, control over the account, and programs that can help families save more. it is important to spread the word to parents in our schools about the benefits of saving for college with a 529 plan. For more information on the Upromise college Fund, visit

Dr. John D. Barge, State Superintendent of Schools


Georgia PTA « The Voice

op-ed on child Nutrition

Congress Must Put Children First


ast week, the U.S. congress missed an opportunity to unite our nation in the fight against childhood obesity and hunger when they passed an agriculture appropriations bill that included language to weaken the USDA’s school nutrition standards. Unfortunately, while engaging in partisan wrangling over whether tomato paste constitutes a vegetable, congress missed the big picture—the health of America’s children. Unless we take action and put our children’s health first, our children will be the first generation in American history with a shorter life expectancy than their parents. As adults, we have a responsibility to all the children of our nation to give them the same chance at a long, bright future that we had. our nation’s school lunch program has not changed significantly in 15 years. Meanwhile, childhood obesity has reached alarming proportions: one-third of American children are overweight or obese. More than 12 million adolescents suffer from obesity. National PTA is disappointed with the process and the politics involved in doing what we all know is right for our nation’s children. The work did not stop when National PTA advocated for the passage of the healthy, hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, a law that improved the nutrition quality of all foods served in schools as well as increased access to vital antihunger measures. National PTA, the oldest and largest volunteer child advocacy association, has worked to improve child health outcomes since its inception in 1897. These advocacy efforts have led to the creation of the U.S. Public health Service, the enactment in 1946 of the National School Lunch program (NSLP) and implementation of the school milk programs. For decades, National PTA has consistently provided results as well as a platform for parents to advocate for children and work together to protect the health of our children.

breathe a little easier this spring by becoming a clean air school Air pollution affects everyone’s health, especially children’s. The clean Air Schools initiative empowers schools, students and parents to take action for air quality within their school and community. The program is free and open to all preschool, elementary, middle and high schools in Georgia. There is still time to register to become a 2011-2012 clean Air School! For more information visit www.cleanaircampaign. org/Schools, email schools@, or call 678-244-7726.

Betsy Landers, National PTA President

SAVE THE DATE for PTA Day at the Capitol! Mark your calendars now for PTA Day at the Capitol, Tuesday, FEBRUARY 28, 2012! This is your opportunity to join other PTA members from around the state to advocate for children during the 2012 Legislative Session! The keynote speaker, Georgia’s State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge, will be speaking on the future course of Georgia’s education. After updates by the Georgia PTA Legislative committee, you will have the opportunity to go the Capitol and then have lunch at The Freight Depot. Remember in January to invite your legislators to join you at lunch! Plan to join us to make a positive difference for all Georgia children!

December 2011


District Directors update

Diversity & inclusion

District Directors are off to the Races and deserve a High 5!

Reaching Out for Understanding That’s Long Overdue

ur nine dedicated District Directors and their Teams have been working hard over the past few months providing guidance and support to their councils and Local Units by ensuring that they have submitted their officers’ information, Audits and 990’s and paid membership dues to Georgia PTA. They are doing all of this while maintaining families of their own.

magine being the parent of a child who is essentially invisible at school. imagine wanting desperately to get involved at school but not having your voice heard. imagine your child living in a parallel universe to his peers, unable to bridge the gap. Now ask the parent of a child with special needs how it feels to live it.


in addition to the above, all District Directors have held successful Fall conferences, supported their councils Schools of information training sessions, attended state training, many have received Proclamations for their work, received membership awards, chartered new Local Units, held Legislative Forums, submitted their Plans of Work and required Quarterly Reports, and finally, being the Team players that they are, shared ideas, challenges and successes with their fellow Directors to ensure that they are as successful as they can be. Kudos to all!

Your 2011-2013 Directors and their Councils are: District 4 – Tom A. Graves, Jr. (Muscogee council and harris council) District 6 – Georgette Backman (Savannah-chatham county council) District 7 – cyd cox (clayton county council) District 8 – William Good (Richmond county council)

Your road to success should be paved with the successes of those you took the time to mentor!

District 9 – Lori Sweet (Douglas council, east cobb council, Jessye coleman council, Marietta city council, Paulding council, South cobb council, Tom Mathis, Sr. council) District 10 – Sandra Perrino (Atlanta council, North Fulton council, South Fulton council) District 11 – Deirdre Pierce (DeKalb county council, Rockdale county council) District 12 – carol Ranft, Asst. District Director (Area 1 Gwinnett council, Area 2 Gwinnett council, Area 3 Gwinnett council) District 13 – Debbie Rabjohn (cherokee council, Forsyth council, Gordon council, Whitfield council) Submitted with pride by: Deirdre Pierce, Districts Chair, GA PTA



For too long, Georgia PTA has overlooked our state’s children with special needs and their families. As recently as last summer our website still referred to disabled children as “handicapped.” even the uninitiated among us know that’s no longer acceptable. But change is in the wind, and with the help of a key partnership, Georgia PTA is making great strides to ramp up our advocacy for this often marginalized community. TASH, an international leader in …change is in the disability advocacy, held their 2011 wind, and with national conference in Atlanta during the help of a key the first week in December. Georgia PTA was honored to participate as partnership, Georgia a member of the conference Local PTA is making great host Planning committee. The strides to ramp up association also hosted an ice cream our advocacy for this Social Meet and Greet for conference attendees. The goal of the event was often marginalized to solicit feedback from participants community about how Georgia PTA can step up our advocacy efforts for children with special needs and their families. Parents, educators, researchers, and special needs professionals from across the country spoke enthusiastically with Georgia PTA President Donna Kosicki, President-elect Rita erves, and a host of other PTA leaders, providing ideas, best practices, and their inspirations and frustrations about advocating for children with special needs. The information shared during the event will be reviewed and summarized and will help provide direction for our enhanced special needs advocacy. When you don’t understand someone’s problems, you can’t effectively help them. Georgia PTA is reaching out to the experts, the people who understand special needs the best, to help us inform our advocacy. We are focused on adding their voice to our “one voice” for every child. Wendy Stewart, Georgia PTA Diversity Chair

Georgia PTA « The Voice


esearch shows that when families are involved student achievement and success increases and that holds true regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic status and education level. The National Standards for Family School Partnerships provide us with a framework for engaging parents and the path to collaboration between schools, families and the community. The Georgia PTA Family engagement committee works hard to get that message out to all stakeholders. our committee works closely with PTA leaders and Parent involvement coordinators around the state of Georgia to provide resources and support for their ongoing efforts in this important area. We maintain a very positive working relationship with the Georgia Department of education and Georgia PiRc. The Family engagement committee distributes a quarterly electronic newsletter that highlights best practices and available resources to enable parent leaders and parent involvement coordinators to build successful programs. if you are interested in receiving our newsletter or if you have an article that you would like to submit highlighting the work your school is doing in the area of family engagement please send it to me. on behalf of the Family engagement committee we wish you all a safe and happy holiday season and a peaceful New Year. Patty Yohn, Georgia PTA Family Engagement Chair

December 2011

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Why Family Engagement?

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family engagement update

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Striving for Excellence, Empowerment, and Equity in Education

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Parents | Educators | Students | Communities

faMilY eNgageMeNT builDiNg coNNecTioNs Striving for Excellence, Empowerment and Equity in Education Georgia PTA is very excited and proud of the work that is happening to prepare for the upcoming Family Engagement Conference in Athens, GA February 16 – 18, 2012. This is the first statewide conference dedicated to family engagement and parent involvement. The conference theme is Building Connections – Striving for Excellence, Empowerment and Equity in Education, and a joint partnership between Georgia PTA and Georgia DOE, Title I, Part A. Highlights include three fascinating keynote speakers, 44 workshops sessions, exhibitors kick off reception, door prizes and more. Please visit the 2012 Family Engagement Conference webpage for more information ( ?Pagereq=StatewideConference). This is going to be a fantastic event with 500 educators and parents leaders from around the state registered to date. JOIN US as we make history in Athens!!!


Message from the georgia PTa Diversity chair

Think you don’t need a Diversity Chair? Think again…


he motto of PTA is “every child, one voice,” but is your board really serving every child? Without a diversity chair to champion those diverse members of your school community, chances are you’re not. An ever-changing school community needs a responsive PTA. An association operating in the same way it’s been run for the last decade simply isn’t enough to meet those needs. And unfortunately, Georgia PTA is falling far short. A recent audit of the diversity chairs reported to the Georgia PTA State office revealed a disturbing statistic. Georgia PTA has 13 districts, 23 councils, and 980 local units, serving 1.7 million children throughout the state. To date, Georgia PTA recognizes no diversity leadership at the district level, 2 council Diversity chairs, and 10 Local Unit Diversity chairs. That’s 12 people with 1.7 million kids to serve. if we’re truly striving to serve every child with one voice, this is not going to get the job done. But if the numbers don’t convince you, let’s consider some of the other costs to schools with no one to advocate for our diverse school communities.

Membership and Money Who among us isn’t keenly aware of the importance of membership to PTA? Without our members we are nothing. And without their membership dues, we have no means of doing the great things of which our association is capable. Think for a moment about all your membership drives; your creative campaigns and incentives for attracting new members. Now imagine a healthy-sized chunk of those members vanishing; 5%, 15%, maybe even 20%. how many members would you lose? how much money? how many potential volunteers, committee members, chairs? if you are a school with a diverse school community, and most of us are to some degree, and you are not enhancing your membership efforts to recruit from your entire school population it’s as though you’ve let that part of your membership slip in to thin air. The 2010 census shows increases in our state population in all ethnic groups, more and more children are being raised by non-traditional caregivers (e.g., grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc.), more than one-third of children in Georgia live in singleparent homes, more and more families are falling below the poverty line. All of these demographics represent diversity within our schools, and all of them require nontraditional approaches when it comes to appealing for membership. A PTA with a diversity chair has a dedicated liaison working to find ways to encourage diverse groups to join. offering membership materials in different languages, hosting seminars on modern parenting, arranging for childcare at general meetings are all ways to show


diverse elements of your community that you recognize their needs and value their participation and membership.

cultural competence The next time you visit your local school, ask one of the teachers about the classes they took in indian culture, or the chinese educational system, or honduran family dynamics. When they stop looking at you like you’re crazy, stop and consider what you would do to effectively integrate students from a variety of different cultures into your classroom. it’s a challenge our teachers face every day with little or no preparation, and successful integration impacts not only those students of other cultures, but their American classmates, as well. Georgia PTA Diversity offers a pair of complementary programs designed to enhance the cultural competence of our teachers and administrators to help them welcome students from other cultures seamlessly into their classes, meeting them where they are and helping them succeed. Schools routinely gather data on languages spoken, but not on cultures and nationalities represented at a school. creating a “cultural Resources Group” offers an opportunity to help schools identify the cultures and nationalities of their families, while identifying “cultural experts” willing to help teachers enhance classroom instruction with first-hand knowledge. once a school has identified its various cultures, a “cultural Summit” is a great way for the faculty and staff to enhance their cultural competence, particularly as it relates to education. A cultural Summit involves the creation of a panel of cultural experts representing the countries, cultures, and faiths represented at a school. Panelists and faculty members participate in an honest, open, and respectful question and answer discussion, with the faculty asking questions of panelists regarding topics such as their culture, traditions, faith, holidays, and, in particular, their particular perspectives on education. There is a strict emphasis on respect, honesty, and understanding during the meeting. No political or religious debate or argument is allowed. This forum is strictly for the purposes of educating faculty and staff about the participating cultures and faiths so that they can facilitate the understanding of those cultures and faiths at school, enhance student success, and further everyone’s inclusion in school programs. The value of cultural competence in our schools cannot be understated. it offers the tools for understanding that our faculties need to bridge their classroom culture gaps and your diversity chair is dedicated to serving as the cultural broker to make it happen. (continued on page 9)

Georgia PTA « The Voice

(continued from page 8)

educating our children for an international future “But our school isn’t diverse,” you say, “and we don’t need a diversity chair to do all that stuff!” But if that is the case, there is no better reason to have a diversity chair to help prepare your students for a world that’s getting smaller every day. empirical research demonstrates that a delayed first exposure to new cultures can inhibit self-confidence and integration in college, work, and social settings. Diversity chairs have access to and can implement programs and initiatives that give Georgia students in areas lacking in the cultural diversity of our nation’s colleges, universities, and urban areas the opportunity to learn about other cultures and faiths. For instance, holding an international celebration where students, or even whole classes, research a country or culture to present helps them identify with those of another culture. having students track the frequency with which their lives are impacted by something from another country helps them appreciate the interconnectedness of nations. Making students argue in defense of an unpopular or controversial issue related to another culture or faith encourages them to consider both sides of an issue fairly before passing judgment. Step by step instructions for implementing these programs and more are available on the Georgia PTA website, enabling your diversity chair to enhance the cultural competence of your students, even if cultural variety isn’t part of their everyday lives.

commit to Diversity Never in human history has our world been so connected. Never before have we seen the degree of mobility and integration of people from all corners of the globe. our schools and communities are experiencing changes for which they may not have had the chance to be prepared. PTA, as an established liaison between families and schools, is in an excellent position to make a real difference in the lives of our students. Georgia PTA has the resources, expertise, and enthusiasm ready and available to make it happen. Your board only needs an agent dedicated to ensuring that all the best of our diverse communities is integrated into PTA and our schools. Please consider adding a diversity chair position to your board. The world won’t wait for us to catch up. You would give your children the world if you could; here’s one way that you can! For more information or for help getting your diversity efforts off and running, please contact Georgia PTA Diversity chair Wendy Stewart at or by phone 404-285-4584.

December 2011

Selena Sloan Butler Park Revitalization Dedication


n November 2, 2011 at 4:00 p.m., the Selena Sloan Butler Park Revitalization Dedication was held. The city of Atlanta, in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association and America’s Backyard, hosted this glorious event. Dignitaries, elected officials, Butler Park supporters and special guests from throughout the area were present. This ceremony was very special to PTA leaders, and many came from ‘far and wide’ to be in in attendance. included among those on hand were: National PTA President, Betsy Landers (who was also one of the speakers); National President elect otha Thornton; National PTA Board Member/2007-2009 Georgia PTA President Leslie cushman; Georgia PTA President Donna Kosicki and Georgia PTA President elect Rita erves. Native Georgian, Selena Sloan Butler, organized the first National congress of colored Parents and Teachers (NccPT) and was one of the founders of the National congress of Parents and Teachers, now known as the National PTA. Butler believed that all children should have the opportunity to succeed and learn, regardless of their race or background. For her contributions, Selena Sloan Butler Park was named in her honor. Georgia PTA has been involved with the Park since 2007. A tornado swept through Atlanta and destroyed much of the Park. Georgia PTA (spearheaded by Leslie cushman), along with the city of Atlanta Department of Parks and Recreation, kicked off the renovation of the Park in 2009. in charge of overseeing the project was the Atlanta Department of Parks and Recreation. The National Recreation and Park Association chose the Park as their annual project and coordinated the $300,000 revitalization. We encourage those of you who were unable to be a part of this joyous occasion to take your families to visit this beautiful Park (98 William holmes Borders Drive, N.e., Atlanta, Georgia 30312). Please share with them the significant role that this remarkable woman, Selena Sloan Butler, played in the history of PTA.


Membership update

There’s always something new at the Zoo… check out these opportunities just in time for the holidays!

Winter safari Day camp Dec. 20-23 and Dec. 28-30 Need a place to drop off the kids during their winter break? Winter Safari Day Camp is the solution! Kindergartners to 5th graders will enjoy a full day learning more about winter adaptations in the animal kingdom. Activities change daily; sign up for one day or all eight! Time: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Cost: $56 Members; $60 Non-Members; $10 Extended Care Visit to register or call 404.624.WILD to learn more.

education gift certificates Give the adventure of lifelong learning with a certificate for one of Zoo Atlanta’s award-winning education programs! Certificates are available for Family NightCrawlers, one-day Safari Day Camps, or Keeper for a Day. You may also purchase certificates in $25 increments. Visit to register or call 404.624.WILD to learn more.

gift Memberships Give 363 days of family fun. Benefits include unlimited free daytime admission for a full year; 10 percent off admission for accompanying guests; discounts on programs, rides and concessions; invitations to Memberexclusive events; and much more. Holiday shopping is easier than ever with Zoo Visit to purchase today!

JFM – Just For Membership and You!


e have areas in Georgia that are on fire for membership this year-Richmond county council alone is seeing numbers never reported out of that District, and we are very proud of the work and outreach that they bring to their community! Real differences are being made in the lives of those families because of PTA.

have you gotten creative with your membership ideas? here’s one idea— consider having your PTA buy a membership for each of the families that you are helping sponsor this holiday season. Many of these families have been struggling with meeting their basic needs, a PTA membership may feel like a luxury that they can’t afford. As active PTA members, we know that parents cannot afford to NoT be involved in the lives of their children; and that being included brings a feeling of connectivity for everyone! other ideas to share with you include these fun incentives for Membership campaigns in the months ahead:

January (The Membership circus) -The PTA (whether from an elementary, Middle or high school) in the state with the highest number (not percentage) of memberships submitted will receive a Set of Four family ViP tickets to the Ringling Brothers circus coming to Atlanta in February and one night hotel accommodations! february (Trotting the globe for Members) -The PTA (one Middle school and one high school) in the state with the largest number (not percentage) of memberships submitted will receive a Set of Four tickets to see the harlem Globetrotters (columbus, Gwinett, or Phillips Arena, depending on the proximity of your school) and one night hotel accommodations!

March Madness (imagination Movers) - The PTA (whether elementary, Middle or high school) with the largest number of Male Members submitted during the month of March will receive Four tickets to the “imagination Movers” in concert at the cobb energy center May 19th performance and one night hotel accommodations! (List of male members joining the local unit will need to be submitted with dues.) The four Local Unit PTAs that win these incentives can distribute these prizes as they see fit! Winning PTAs can give the prize away at a PTA Meeting, or as an award for a local school contest…ideas are endless. our only criteria is that these prizes go to PTA families. The Membership Goal for the 2011 – 2012 for Georgia PTA is 2% (two percent) over last year’s membership numbers. Last year, that number was 296,230; in order to meet our membership goal, we need 28,600 memberships. We have until the end of March to make this happen. everyone loves a good contest, so along with these monthly incentives that are being offered, the Georgia PTA Membership committee members are working on a Big – end of Year incentive to share with you, when the state membership goal is reached! Keep up the great work…let’s continue to increase memberships, so that we may best connect to our students, parents, educators and administrators and business partners to focus on achievement for all of Georgia’s children and youth! Lisa-Marie Haygood, Georgia PTA Membership Chair,


Georgia PTA « The Voice

asian outreach

Welcome all friends and families to Georgia PTA Asian Outreach Committee!


he Asian outreach committee was formed for the first time this year under the direction of Georgia PTA President Donna Kosicki. it was a much needed area for Georgia PTA to get plugged into due to the large Asian population increase in our state. The committee’s first outreach event was being part of the Korean Festival, the largest annual celebration of Korean culture in the Southeast. it was held on october 15th and 16th at the Suwanee Town center Park, Suwanee, GA. We had a Georgia PTA booth at the festival. This annual Korean Festival has a relatively short history, starting in 2009 as a way of promoting the growing relationship and understanding between the local community members and Korean Americans, many of whom are struggling to adjust to a new life in America. Despite its short history, the festival has grown to be the most significant Korean event in the Southeast, and it is one of the most noticeable annual festivals in Gwinnett county. in 2009, the inaugural festival drew approximately 18,000 people on one day to Duluth Town center Park. During the two day event, we were able to enjoy a variety of Korean foods, learn traditional forms of entertainment, and enjoy a number of performances including Korean music, dance, martial arts exhibition, traditional wedding show and a parade to display the amazing costumes of traditional Korean Kings and Queens over the nation’s 5,000 year history. There was a very unique performance known as a ‘Pibimbob’, which entailed a huge Pibimbob (traditional Korean food of mixed rice) with a massive bowl and instruments to mix it (see picture below).

Another interesting food related performance was a ‘Kimbop’ performance in which we made a 16 foot long Kimbop (traditional seaweed wrapped roll) with about 20 participants. This Pibimbob and Kimbop were available to be tasted on the spot by as many as 500 people. We had several Asian PTA volunteers who are bilingual from hull Middle School, Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology, Peachtree Ridge high School, Burnette elementary School, and Johns creek elementary School. The committee volunteers gave out PTA brochures, and some of the materials were written in Korean for non-english Speaking Koreans. The volunteers shared PTA information with the visitors, and sold PTA membership cards and spiritwear. Georgia PTA President Donna Kosicki and two of her children, and Georgia PTA President elect Rita erves came to the event and experienced the culture of the festival. it was a great two day event that the committee got to reach out the Asian community, and our PTA volunteers got to experience Korean food, culture, and performances. come join us next time, you’ll have a great time! The committee is looking for bilingual Asian committee members. if you are interested in joining please e-mail Gina Pollitt at Written by Gina Pollitt, Georgia PTA Asian Outreach Chair

December 2011


committee chair updates

Hard at Work for You


eorgia PTA has 13 standing committees and eight specialists to serve our membership across the state. These committees include: Asian Liaison, Bylaws, Diversity, education, Family engagement, health and Wellness, hispanic/Latino Liaison, State and Federal legislation, Membership, Reflections, Resource Development, Technology, and Youth Services. Just what have these committees been up to? here’s a sampling of the hard work done thus far by our volunteers.

reflections The Reflections committee hit the ground running this summer and has not stopped to rest since. chair cindy Austin and team presented numerous Reflections workshops for local unit and council Reflections chairs at council Schools of information and four PTA Universities at the state office. The team was very busy collecting and choosing the top 5 theme search winners for Georgia. Those entries have been forwarded to National to compete against entries from the rest of the country. cindy proudly reports that Georgia PTA local units actively participated in this National PTA program. The state Reflections committee received over 2,000 entries of artwork, literature, music compositions, dance choreography, and video compositions for the 2011-2012 “Diversity means...” Reflections contest. Many thanks to the council chairs who gave their time to assist with this massive process. Statewide winners will be notified in March.

Diversity The Diversity committee, chaired by Wendy Stewart, has had a full few months. They hosted a PTA University on holding international celebrations, and have presented multiple workshops at District and council events this fall to share the importance of diversity and the role of a diversity chair. The committee recently began working with the Anti Defamation League to promote the “No Place for hate” anti-bullying program. The Diversity committee also partnered with TASh, an international special needs advocacy group, on their national conference in Atlanta. Georgia PTA served as served as a member of the Local host Planning committee, organized volunteers for the National TASh conference, and held an ice cream Social Meet & Greet event at the conference to learn more from attendees about how Georgia PTA can improve our advocacy for children with special needs and their families. Learn more about this exciting initiative in Wendy Stewart’s article about TASh in The Voice on page 6.


resource Development Resource Development has focused its efforts this fall on promoting Family events with both the Atlanta Falcons and the Atlanta hawks. These game days are designed to be fun filled events for our members and their families. Ticket sales were structured so that participating local units received funds for their own programs. Georgia PTA at the Falcons Family Day is January 1, 2012 as we watch the Atlanta Falcons take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ten lucky PTA winners will be on the field participating in the pregame flag ceremony. Winners have already been notified by committee chair Dewanna King. on March 16, 2012, Georgia PTA will have it’s Family Day with the Atlanta hawks. The reworked NBA schedule has pitted the hawks against the Washington Wizards for our game day. Visit www. for order forms. Thirty lucky children will have the opportunity to shoot free throws on the court after the game. Be sure to read more about the work of our busy committees in articles in The Voice from the Family engagement, Diversity, and Membership committees. We are always looking for people interested in volunteering at the state level. if you would like to learn more about serving on any of these committees, please contact Carolyn Briner at

Know Your Target Markets!


id you know that Georgia PTA has committed to increasing membership by 5% in 7 Target Markets this year?! You and your team of officers can help us by ensuring your local units guides your membership efforts in these areas too. 1. Community Partners – These are any PTA members that belong to your local unit, but are not considered “stake holders” because they do not have children enrolled at the school, nor do they work there. examples of community Partners are local businesses and churches, School Board members and local politicians, grandparents, teacher spouses, and past parents and PTA members. We achieved this target increase! 2. Local Units with Less than 25 Members 3. Middle and High School PTA’s and PTSA’s 4. New Local Unit Inquiry Conversions 5. Whitfield Council of PTA 6. Harris Council 7. Douglas County Council it is super important to know the status of your school’s membership and work to increase it by at least two percent each year. if you have questions, please let us know. Lisa-Marie Haygood, Georgia PTA Membership Chair

Georgia PTA « The Voice


July 12 – 14, 2012 98th Annual Georgia PTA Convention Leadership Training Classic Center Athens, Georgia Join hundreds of PTA leaders where you can: • Choose from over 50 workshops lead by dynamic presenters to enhance your confidence and leadership skills as a PTA leader • Enjoy your time in Athens, GA — check out some of the local attractions, shops and eateries • Understand the ins and outs of your role as a Local Unit Officer — specific traning provided for Presidents, Secretaries, Treasurers and Reflections Chairs • Learn Best Practices for your Local Unit to put into use right away • Network with over 100 exhibitors and hundreds of attendees

Important Dates to Remember


December 21-30:







state office closed for Holidays


1: PTa family Day, atlanta falcons vs Tampa bay buccaneers BRIDGES BRIDGES 2012


Deadline for Proposed local unit resolutions


PTa university — Nominating committee with barbara Thomas

february 1:

late registration Deadline Doe/ga PTa family engagement conference


PTsa Day at the capitol for students


Take Your family to school Week


ridgeview institute – Parent Workshop “Does my child have an eating disorder?”


Doe/ga PTa family engagement conference


founders Day


PTa Day at the capitol


bronze Target Membership award Deadline

March 3:

PTa university “Transitioning the Teams” with Donna Kosicki (9:00 am to 12:00 pm)


National PTa legislative conference, in arlington, Va


georgia PTa student scholarship applications aND reports Deadline


family Night with the atlanta Hawks (atlanta Hawks vs. Washington Wizards)


georgia PTa reflections reception

This year, Convention Leadership Training will be held at the Classic Center in Athens, Georgia. This is an exciting new venue for the event. Please plan to JOIN US! Watch the website,, for more information about Convention Leadership Training.

December 2011


georgia PTa board of Directors


President, Donna Kosicki President Elect, Rita Erves 1st Vice President, Sonia Scott 2nd Vice President, Carolyn Briner Secretary, Cheryl B. White Treasurer, Rev. Richard Jones Parliamentarian, Laura Dobbs

Supercharge your PTA with Just Between Friends Calendars

District Directors

e’re always working to make Just Between Friends more useful. So, now we’ve added the ability for you to post repeating events to JBF calendars, instead of posting them one-by-one. This is available for group events and deadlines as well as personal items posted on a member’s own calendar.

1st District Director, Vacant 3rd District Director, Vacant 4th District Director, Tom A. Graves, Jr. 5th District Director, Vacant 6th District Director, Georgette Backman 7th District Director, Cyd Cox 8th District Director, William J. Good 9th District Director, Lori Sweet 10th District Director, Sandra Perrino 11th District Director, Deirdre Pierce 12th District, 1st Assistant Director, Carol Ranft 13th District Director, Debbie Rabjohn Chair of the District Directors, Deirdre Pierce

standing committees Asian Outreach, Gina Pollitt Bylaws, Barbara Thomas Diversity, Wendy Stewart Education, Neatie Green Family Engagement, Patty Yohn Health-Wellness, Adrian Watlington Cox Latino/Hispanic Outreach, Isabel Sance Legislation (State), Karen Hallacy Male Involvement, Vacant Membership, Lisa-Marie Haygood Reflections, Cindy Austin Resource Development, Dewanna King Technology, Lisa Richardson Youth Services, Chanda Cardwell Chair of the Committees, Patty Yohn


And, now you can create a public calendar page – ready to include in your website, or standalone for email distribution. You can customize your public calendar in just moments and even create separate calendars for various subgroups. Plus, we’ve made it easy for you to share your calendar items with a few people before you publicize it! Now, you can place your calendar items into categories that you can hide from everybody except your selected administrators, allowing you to get feedback before publishing. All of our calendar enhancements will help you to engage parents and supercharge your PTA! Learn more about Just Between Friends calendar enhancements and how to use them at And, don’t miss the live webinar on creating public calendars Julia, our Director of Training, will be conducting on January 4th at noon (eST). Just click here to register. it’s a fun, interactive way to learn! rt/6200135412713849600 if your unit isn’t using Just Between Friends, you’re missing out on so many benefits including the opportunity to earn revenue from Just Between Friends. it’s easy to get started. Simply visit to enter your unit. Then, visit for lots of how-to information and a schedule of training webinars. if you have questions at any time, please visit and click on “contact Us” or call 412-561-0600 x 0 and a knowledgeable, friendly Just Between Friends customer Support Representative will help. After you’ve entered your unit, if you have questions about revenue-share, please call 412-561-0500 x 1203. Don’t delay! enter your unit today for an opportunity to begin earning revenue-share for the Spring semester.

specialists/consultants Communications, Susan Hayes Education Policy, Sally FitzGerald Environmental Education, Eve Neumeister Federal Legislation, Barbara Costello GA DOE Liaison,Michelle Tarbutton Sandrock Hospitality, Sam Shehane Student Representative, Arjun Ranbir Sahgal Survey Design, Sally Markham NPTA President Elect, Otha Thornton GA PTA Past President and NPTA Board of Directors, Leslie Cushman GA PTA Past President and NPTA Leadership Task Force, Valerie Martin


stay connected to georgia PTa We make it easy to be in-the-know!

bookmark our website: like us on facebook: georgia PTa follow us on Twitter: Georgia PTA « The Voice

environmental education

Cleaning Up Dirty Diesel School Buses with Federal Dollars is a No-Brainer By Rebecca Watts Hull and Anne Blair


n these tough economic times it is a relief to share some good news about funding for Georgia school systems. on November 4, every school system in the state was invited to apply for over $2.5 million in federal funding to clean up dirty diesel school buses. Diesel exhaust poses the most widespread air pollution risk in the United States. exhaust from school bus and other diesel engines is a toxic mixture of tiny fine particles and gases (soot) including over 40 air toxics. Fine particles in the exhaust are linked to many respiratory problems including asthma attacks and possible asthma onset. When inhaled, these tiny particles bypass our upper respiratory defenses and can travel into our bloodstream causing abnormal heart rhythms, heart attack, stroke and even premature death. everyone is at risk but all children and people living or working close to sources of diesel exhaust, such as bus drivers and teachers, are among the most vulnerable. children with respiratory or heart problems are at even greater risk, including the 12% in Georgia living with asthma. in addition to triggering an attack in a child with asthma, diesel exhaust also can stunt lung function growth even in healthy children. Because of these serious threats, the U.S. environmental Protection Agency tightened emissions standards for 2007 and newer diesel bus and truck engines by more than 90%. however, millions of old, dirtier diesel engines remain on the road. Just as truck fleet turnover has slowed due to the economic downturn, the lives of dirty school buses have been extended by cash-strapped school systems whose state funding for bus replacement has been cut. Georgia’s environmental Protection Division (ePD) recognizes the special vulnerability of children and has prioritized pollution control devices for school buses in its use of federal air quality funding. Since 2005, more than 1,700 Georgia school buses have been retrofitted with devices that significantly reduce the health threat to students. With state funding for school bus replacement drying up, it is more important than ever that Georgia’s school systems take advantage of federal funding to clean up their aging fleets. Twenty-four Georgia school districts have taken advantage of school bus cleanup funding over the past 6 years, and some are moving as quickly as possible to ensure no child has to ride on a dirty bus. When cherokee county School District (ccSD) hired a new transportation director a few years ago, Mr. Johnson immediately saw the value of reducing bus pollution and applied for and

December 2011

our children deserve a safe and healthy ride to school.

received a grant that paid for state-of-the-art filters on 44 buses. With strong parent support ccSD made a commitment to a 100% clean fleet in its next strategic plan, stating it would “continue to seek grant funding to retrofit all buses to meet or exceed 2007 emissions standards.” in early 2010 Barrow county Schools (BcS) used federal funding to retrofit all eligible buses in its fleet with highly effective filters that reduce soot by as much as 85%. But, about one-third of the buses were too old to be good candidates. Understanding the harmful effects of diesel soot on children, BcS chose to pass a $1.8 million bond to replace the oldest and dirtiest buses in its fleet, and it remains committed to pursuing other funding sources until every bus is clean. our children deserve a safe and healthy ride to school. Georgia parents can play a big role in persuading busy school administrators to apply for funding that covers 100% of the cost of pollution control devices for their school buses. Find out if your school system is planning to apply for the funding available right now through ePD, and make sure your child’s bus is not “left behind.” Rebecca Watts Hull is Director of Mothers & Others for Clean Air, an Atlanta-based air quality education and advocacy nonprofit. She lives in Decatur with her husband and two school-aged children. More information at Anne Blair is Clean Fuels Director for Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, a regional nonprofit promoting responsible energy choices. She lives in Avondale Estates with her husband and son. More information at or on Twitter at cleanenergy4u.


Male engagement

The PTA MORE® Alliance (Men Organized to Raise Engagement)


his year more than one million men across America will visit schools through programs of the National PTA MoRe® Alliance (Men organized to Raise engagement). Male involvement remains a key resource for recruiting new PTA members. The MoRe Alliance offers ready-to-use programs that will help you quickly add relevance, membership and capacity to your PTA. MoRe Alliance programs can: · increase PTA membership and expand leadership · increase male involvement and provide positive role models in schools · Guarantee hundreds of additional parent volunteer hours in every school · Provide PTA-branded programs for schools that contribute to student success by: « increasing student achievement and test scores « Providing adult assistance in the classroom and after school « creating an atmosphere of security « Decreasing disruptive behavior « Preventing instances of bullying « Providing additional learning experiences for the children « channeling more community resources to schools For more information on PTA MoRe partners, go to For additional male involvement resources, go to Visit

Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) – Asks fathers and significant men to spend one day a year at their child’s school. Visit Strong Fathers-Strong Families – hosts Bring Your Dad to School Day, Dad & Kid Reading, Math and Science Nights/Days; Saturday workshops and staff trainings. Visit All Pro Dad – hosts monthly breakfast for dads and kids, iMoMs for moms and the NFL Father and Kids experience. Visit The Black Star Project – its Million Father March asks fathers to take kids to school on the first day as the beginning of a year-long commitment. Visit other valuable fatherhood and parenting resources can be accessed through the following PTA MoRe alliance members. Please visit:

The National compadre Network The National fatherhood initiative The National Partnership for community leadership (NPcl) Sent from Al Tamagni, Jr., National PTA Male Engagement Committee Chair, on behalf of National PTA’s Male Engagement Committee

The Voice Official publication of the Georgia PTA A Branch of the National Congress of Parents and Teachers georgia PTa 114 Baker Street, NE


Atlanta, GA 30308 404-659-0214 or 1-800-PTA-TODAY Fax: 404-525-0210 President: Donna Kosicki

Information from this newsletter may be excerpted for other PTA publications at the local, council and district levels as long as credit is given to Georgia PTA and any byline that may appear with the item must be included.


Georgia PTA « The Voice

Georgia PTA's The Voice_December 2011  

The December 2011 issues of Georgia PTA's newsletter, The Voice.

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