Page 1

Connection Day — pg. 54

The Voice

Transitioning to new schools and PTAs ­­— pg. 19

Fall 2014 Plan for Rally Day — pg. 14

back the future. — pg. 8

Healthy Eats — pg. 16 How to Have Family Chats — pg. 6 Texas PTA on Common Core — pg. 42

408 x408 — pg. 50

PTA – Money or Mission? By Leslie Boggs Back to school time! That means PTA is back in full swing. What an exciting time to be a part of PTA! As we celebrate the start of school, I challenge us all to ask everyone in your families and community the question, “Will you back the future?” This will create meaningful dialogue for you to follow up with, “It’s time to join PTA!” It’s not a question, but a statement, “It’s time!” A common question about joining PTA is, “So what do I get for my money?” It is important to remind us all PTA is not only about collecting dues. Paying the less than $10 dues (average $5) for 12 months is a tangible way to show our support for and belief in PTA’s vision of making every child’s potential a reality. The real reason we join is to support our own children and everyone else’s and to make a difference not only on our campuses, but in our communities. It’s nearly time to begin another legislative session in January 2015. The debate over dollars for public education, testing and graduation requirements, just to name a few, is not over. Numbers matter. We are half a million members strong in Texas PTA, but our student enrollment in Texas has exceeded 5 million students. It’s time to have a PTA member and voice for every child in Texas public schools! As we begin another school year, be reminded it’s not just about dues. It’s about being an advocate for every child in our local communities which translates to an even greater strength in Austin! So, will you back the future? 2

Dear Leslie, I am the new membership chair for our school’s PTA, and I want to increase membership. What is your best advice? Debby Doubler Kids Come First PTA

Dear Debby Doubler, This is the year to increase membership! Absorb everything you can about our new campaign: back the future. It’s all about asking not only parents, but families of students, neighbors and community leaders to back the future and join PTA. Challenge your PTA to go outside the box and your campus and ask people to join who care not only about our schools, but our communities. Remind them we need the You in CommYOUnity!

Family Time – Is It on Your Calendar? By Kyle Ward, CAE We’ve all heard it said, “Families who eat together stay together.” I’m sure you ask yourselves the same question I do to myself, “So how is this possible?” I’m sure we agree the answer is not so simple. Life is busy and complex. This past summer my family was rarely together. Between work, summer baseball and our boys’ attraction to “hanging out” with their friends, we did not see our children often. Sound familiar? In just a week we will be taking our son to college for his first semester. So yes, our first born is leaving home. Our other son will begin high school. Our world has only begun to look differently. Life as we once knew it will be changing. So what is my take-away from 18 years of parenting? Regardless of how urgent something is, nothing is more important than your family. There is time to call and say hello. There is time to text back. There is time to eat together – schedule the time. There is time to take a trip together. There is time to tell your family how much you love and appreciate them. There is time to do what we set time to do! We can never replace missed time with our families. Seize the moment! So much of what we think is critical to achieve in a day is really not. Because of the fast-paced, success-driven culture we thrive and survive in, we have begun thinking it is not okay to say, “I will get to that tomorrow.” The truth is – it is fine to do our best in a day, and some things can wait for another day. As we reflect back on the day gone by, we must remember to ask, “So what kind word or act did I do today for my family?” Let’s all slow down. Families matter.

Financial Series Part 3: Give till it hurts by DANIEL pHILHOWER, tEXAS pta DIRECTOR OF fINANCE “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” — Mother Teresa “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” — Winston Churchill Giving back to those around us who are in need can be the most rewarding experiences life offers. Within every

socioeconomic class, there is a need that can be met by someone. Whether that be a financial need, physical need (clothes,

food, etc.), or emotional need, we can each contribute in some manor to improve the lives of those around us. Children alone bring such joy to our lives, what better lesson to teach our kids then to give back. 3

Make sure your kids get a healthy breakfast! Kids who eat breakfast do better at school-make better grades, perform better on the playground and have fewer nurse visits. It’s hard to think on an empty stomach! AND breakfast eaters tend to weigh less than breakfast skippers. Michelle, McCallum PTA, Austin If your child has any type of special needs whether covered by 504, RtI or IDEA, make arrangements for them to meet their teachers before school starts and not at Meet the Teacher when all of the other classmates will be there too. Also if they are a secondary student, and especially those transitioning to jr high or high school, make arrangements for them to practice their class schedule several times before other students are around and have them practice opening their lockers. This will help them be more comfortable when school starts. Laura, Cinco Ranch Jr High PTA, Katy 4

Shop early for back to school supplies... Buy a few extra to share w/your child’s Teacher for the student who maybe needs a little help on the side with out being pointed out. Lennie, Polser Elementary, Carrollton Parents start the School night routine in mid July. Kids are happy and you are rested. Deborah, Friendswood Show your kids that you care and be there for them when the bell rings. Don’t show them that you are sad, instead show them that you are happy, and that you love them. Carol, Brentwood Elementary, Austin


We asked for School advice If you happen to be a dad who is also an elementary PTA president, my advice is for you. Keep your boots on. Few parents have ever seen a dad as a PTA president. Win those people over. Work hard, play hard, and laugh with the kids. Victor, Wooden Elementary PTA, Red Oak

I think the best advice in the history of giving advice came from Douglas Adams: DON’T PANIC. While I’d love to take credit for his incredible words of wisdom, I can only pass them on to as many parents as possible.

Dream BIG this new school year! Plan BIG goals, set the bar HIGH for yourself, even exaggerate a little in what you want to accomplish. Make sure others think you make no sense... After all, everyone who dreamed to reach the stars landed in the sky and that’s the limit!

Michelle, Smithifield Middle School BISD, North Richland Hills

Oswaldo, Forest Lane Academy PTA, Richardson


r your best Back-toe, and you delivered! Get to know your child’s teacher prior to there being a problem.

You’ve got this! When the back-toschool craziness starts to overwhelm you, take a breath and remember this will be over in a blink. Another year of building relationships and making memories is ahead of you. You are part of the bigger picture.

I truly believe that the best thing parents can do is to be involved in getting to know the teachers, the school, and the district. Anticipate what may work and may not work with and for their children, and have open conversations with the educators. Find collaborative strategies that will help the children succeed by using their strengths and learning to develop on their weaknesses.

Lauren, Noel A. Smith Elementary, Frisco

Silvia, Turner Highschool PTSA, Carrollton

Goria, Treasure Hills Elementary, Harlingen

My best advice is don’t be afraid to ask people to join PTA and volunteer. I used to feel “guilty” about asking, thinking I was bothering them. But I have talked to so many people who want to help and the only way they know to get involved is through PTA. You’re giving them an opportunity - you’re not a burden!! Tatum, Reagan Elementary, Odessa Parents, trust your teachers, they only want what’s best for your child. Mom of 3, ages 19, 23 and 25. Taught for 10 years and hope to get back into teaching soon.

You do not have to be a volunteer to be a PTA member, and you do not have to be a PTA member to volunteer! First and foremost you should ask people to join PTA because your main focus is the general wellbeing of all children. Your message to them should NEVER be, join PTA, here is a list of volunteer needs. Parents with time constraints will not join if they think that volunteering is the expectation. You become a member because you generally care about children. Linda, R.L. Turner HS PTSA, Carrolton

Linda, CFB PTSA, Carrollton


Family Chats by Being a Family Fool In our culture it is cool to be connected with others, especially when using the latest electronic gadget! But what we really need in our lives is relationships where we can fully communicate and find understanding. It is in the family setting that we will most likely have this need met. But, BEWARE: anticipate that children and especially youth, will often dismiss your desire for good family communication. It isn’t cool. A dismissive response often happens when 6

parents are anticipating school starting and wanting to have deep and meaningful conversations about the coming school year and school performance.

In order to create Family Chats, this is the time to take on the role of the Family Fool! It is the time to seek more from your relationship with your children/youth than just being “connected”,

as the culture promotes – instead, seek full communication. The summer is a great time to take on this Family Fool persona since family members are more relaxed. Here are some tips on how to genuinely enter into this necessary role in leading family life now and throughout the coming school year:

Be approachable – As you prepare for a family chat, think through how you’ll present yourself not

as an authoritarian nor as a giving-in parent. Prepare to be a careful listener that invites this current conversation but also looks forward to further conversations. At work you might think of this tip as the Open Door policy towards co-workers.

Be able to seek understanding from the child’s viewpoint – instead

of assuming you can be helpful by having “the answer” or “the fix” for your child’s problem, ask your child to help you clearly grasp his viewpoint or concern. By playing dumb (The Family Fool) rather than smart, the child works harder to formulate his own perspective. By parenting in this style, your child is developing a mature process for problem solving that he will come to rely on as an adult.

out as a good deed that is appreciated. Unfortunately, all of us are accustomed to being noticed for what we do wrong. We infrequently hear from others when we’ve made a good choice. I like to call this parenting skill – Catch him doing something good! The goal of parenting should be something like this: to create a young adult who has the healthy selfconfidence to make good choices and to know when to ask for help. By being a parent who encourages a child/youth, you will foster the budding self confidence that is necessary to

accomplish the goal of being a healthy adult. By practicing these tips until they become habits in your parenting style, a better Family Chat climate will emerge throughout the new school year. You will see the frequency of dismissive remarks decrease when you ask about school. Wouldn’t it be nice to hear a more full communication response rather than “It’s Okay” when you ask about the school experience on a regular basis?

Be an encourager –

Keep in mind that life is a marathon journey. Life is not only about doing well in school this year. Notice when your child/teen is doing something that is admirable, even if it’s small, such as feeding the pets without being asked. Once you notice this, point it

Beth Eden Abel LCSW is a Life Coach and 35 year expert in family communications. Her business, Life Maps, specializes in coaching women during times of life transition. Through the coaching process, the client creates a Life Map that clarifies life direction and embraces a chosen lifestyle. She has written a 200 page workbook that accompanies the Life Map process. Visit Life Maps at to learn more about Beth Eden Abel and Life Maps coaching.


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back the future is Texas PTA’s new campaign that will remain our membership theme for many, many years to come. It is a whole new brand for PTAs throughout Texas. Essentially, back the future means community-supported education – emphasis on community.

year that will celebrate education while inspiring new membership. Your activity could certainly be part of another event already planned for your campus, such as a back-to-school open house or pep rally.

With back-to-school upon us, the door is reopened for conversations about what PTA stands for and how families, teachers, students and others can be involved. It’s an exciting time, and we are taking the opportunity to rally the community with a brand-new campaign.

Be sure to invite your local news media and your community leaders – such as business leaders, elected officials, first responders, sports figures, and other local “celebrities” – to your back the future activities.

more than new backpacks and new teachers.

• Add sketch This theme represents the strong belief that an investment in the education of Texas children is an investment in our future – both our economic future, and the health and wellness of our local communities. Texas PTA believes this time of year can represent much

A series of “back the future Days” will take place at Texas schools – hosted on the first day of school, when excitement is high and families are present, to celebrate education, involve the community and inspire membership and participation. Every school is encouraged to host an event of their own design, and every community member is invited

This will give your community leaders the valuable opportunity to interact with your students and publicly express their belief in the importance of education.

After all, the intent of back the future is to ask the entire community – not only parents Your PTA still has time to plan and teachers – to make a back the future” activities commitment to their local around the start of the school schools.

back the future is Here To Stay Remember that back the future is not merely a “back to school” campaign. And it is not just for 2014. It is a year-round, long-term effort specially designed increase the relevance of PTA to the broader community over the next few years! It’s a whole new brand for PTAs throughout Texas.

Branding back the future For this campaign to be successful, every participating PTA should consistently use the established speaking points, signage, video, and other resources provided. 10

A great place for you to start is with well-known community leaders.

much more that will truly help to build awareness and support in your community, by establishing a strong, consistent “visual” for the theme of communitysupported education.

An electronic version of a toolkit designed to guide you in planning and carrying out your back the future activities is available here. Think of this In other words, these resource as a conversationmaterials will create a starter, to help get your recognizable BRAND for the

back the future days will take place... to celebrate education, involve the community & inspire membership and participation” PTA started in developing activities that best fit YOUR resources and YOUR community.

back the future campaign, and you will be able to use these materials for many years to come.

The toolkit includes a sample press release, talking points, Q&A, and other resources.

Additionally, here is the inspiring video that Texas PTA created for you to use locally. You are encouraged to post this short video to your PTA website and social media. See how many of

Through our online store, the S.T.A.R. Co-op, you can purchase signs, shirts, and

your members you can get to “share” the video through social media, to help it go viral throughout the state. Show it as often as possible with your community at local meetings and events throughout the coming months and years. This video is YOUR story! Let’s work together to inspire community members of all ages, all sectors of the community, and all walks of life to back the future by joining PTA today at (If you haven’t already, please ensure your free PTA profile has been activated.) With your PTA’s active involvement, back the future will make PTA relevant to new audiences, and our collective impact will be stronger than ever!

You can also create your own promotional materials using the official graphics. Visit the back the future webpage for these materials. You can buy back the future yard signs, T-shirts, decals, posters, and much more from the S.T.A.R. Co-op. Because back the future is here to stay, you will be able to use these materials for many years to come. Questions about the toolkit, video, logo/files, or branding standards? Please contact


How will your PTA back the future? Here are 10 of the many creative ideas that Texas PTA members brainstormed at LAUNCH for promoting this campaign. • Be part of “meet the council for a group btf • Work with local teacher night”: provide event. civic clubs, city hall, teachers with speaking realtors, homeowners • Incorporate btf activities points in advance; sell associations, chambers into family picnics, ice discounted btf T-shirts to of commerce, cream socials, and other teachers for that night; preschools, daycares, traditional school events. show the Texas PTA btf libraries, and police/ video in each classroom; fire departments. Ask • Have the football team have btf signage them to put the YOU in run through a huge btf throughout the event. community! banner at the first home game; make the game • Bring together PTAs in • Create an event that “btf night.” the same district, city, promotes healthy feeder pattern, or lifestyles, such as a btf • Ask the mayor to Fun Run; the entrance publicly pledge his/her fee to the Fun Run could support for back the include membership future and commit to dues. putting a btf yard sign in his/her own yard. • Include btf logo and

dd sketch

• Partner with a popular business to hold a btf spirit night. • Make a short video starring local students saying what they’ll do when they grow up, with a community member standing nearby who then declares, “I back the future!” Then post the video everywhere you can! 12 information on school spirit wear, school magnet, school marquee, school supply packet, school social media, school letterhead, parent handbook, and anywhere else the school will let you!

For the full listing, visit the back the future webpage. Questions about holding back the future events? Please contact






The Texas Legislature returns to Austin for its biennial session in January of 2015. Texas PTA will be hard at work representing the needs of children and youth across Texas and will once again host Rally Day at the Texas Capitol. Rally Day will take place on February 25, 2015. That’s a long way off, but there are things you can do now to be sure that you have the best experience. NOW: Talk to your principal about funding for travel costs to Austin. Many schools have money for these types of events. If you are a Title 1 school there is money for parent education and Rally Day qualifies as an educational experience for parents. There is NO cost to participate in Rally Day. ONCE SCHOOL BEGINS: Begin to advertise in all your communications with parents and teachers your plan to bring a group to Rally Day. Consider a PTA officer challenge – which officer can recruit the most members to come to Austin?

THROUGHOUT THE FALL: Participate in Texas PTA’s webinars to learn about the event schedule, the issues we’ll be discussing with legislators and staffers, who will speak at Rally Day, and to learn about event logistics like hotel rates, options for lunch, etc. Share webinars with your group. Watch for information about the webinars and registration in Under the Dome emails and The Voice. Keep advertising Rally Day to your members. LATE FALL: Make final travel arrangements and hotel reservations, if needed. Texas PTA secures a group rate for Rally Day. Decide on common clothing – perhaps your school t-shirt.

JANUARY: Make appointments for Rally Day with the legislators who represent you. By participating in the webinars and reading Under the Dome and The Voice you will learn how to identify who represents you, how to set up the meetings, when to schedule them, and what to talk about. Share the Texas PTA webinars you’re your group so they will be prepared. Keep advertising Rally Day to your members. FEBRUARY 25: Rally Day! Join parents and teachers from around the state to advocate for Texas children!


Health ick. Is that your or your kid’s reaction to packing healthy lunches? With school just around the corner, Chef Harris Esparza, Eurest Executive Chef, has tips on packing yummy AND healthy lunches! As a Chef and a father of three, you would think that I would have an easy fix and answers for healthy eating for children. But this isn’t a simple task – even for me! My kids are all unique and all have different likes, dislikes, favorites and of course, allergies. Let’s start with my oldest daughter, Jericha. She is 16

13 and around the age of ten she developed a food allergy to everything under the sun. The foods she was accustomed to eating where now no longer options: chicken, chocolate, nuts and citrus fruits to name a few. My son Logan, who is built like a truck, is a simple meat and potatoes type of kid.

family involved.

Let’s start with a very simple and basic idea. If your kids like rice, switch it up and introduce them to brown rice and from there move on to cous cous. My wife and I have an established rule; you take three bites of whatever is on the table no ifs, ands or buts. Let me just say this isn’t the easiest rule to incorporate but it has worked for us.

Our youngest Taylor will avoid anything fresh vegetables, salad and even Simple isn’t bland, I love chicken. strawberries and Balsamic vinegar, I don’t expect Who has time to my kids to eat it, but I will plan around all these toss some fresh berries requirements? With most with mint or a little vanilla families being a two income and serve it up with some home no one does. Greek yogurt. My kids love it and it beats the yogurt I know you don’t have time that is marketed to kids! to be specific and measure recipes only hoping that If your kids like grilled your picky eaters will cheese like mine do, like whatever it is you’re substitute the butter with making. So I’m going to extra virgin olive oil, give you tips to and ideas and instead of white to start acclimating your bread try the round kid’s palates and hopefully wheat thins available make it fun to get the whole at most grocery stores.

hy Eats

Craving more lunch inspiration? Check out 100 days of Real Food blog! Lots of non-processed lunch ideas complete with recipes and how to pack it all!


From the Kitchen of: Chef Harris Esparza

Cashew butter • 2/3c roasted unsalted cashews • 1 1/2Tbls oil (I used coconut oil) • Pulse in food processor until smooth (if you like crunch add some chopped roasted cashews at the end) • Add a drizzle of honey • Serve with Carrot chips, apples, or celery Cinnamon vanilla tossed berries • • • •

1/3 teaspoon cinnamon 1/3 teaspoon vanilla paste available at central market 1/4c mixed berries Toss all ingredients and pour over vanilla Greek yogurt

Olive oil & Muenster grilled cheese on whole wheat • Replace butter with olive oil

Chef Harris Esparza is on Instagram! @LONESTAR_EATS


The Next Step Transitions aren’t Easy, and August is full of them. Here’s your guide on transitioning into a new classroom and a new PTA. 19

You see them all the time: 3 ways to guarantee homework success, 5 critical questions to ask your teacher. It’s easy to find checklists online for every grade level. But is your child really ready? We asked an elementary teacher how to help your child succeed and what you should know about your teacher as you start the new school year.

I want your child to succeed.

We are busy all day, every day.

If your child doesn’t succeed then I have failed as their teacher.

I put thought and effort to the lessons I plan and how I teach them, so I can reach every child. So, please don’t ask me, “Are ya’ll doing anything this afternoon, I was going to check my child out after lunch?”

I truly care about your child. I will love them and nurture them, but I will also expect them to be responsible for their things, their homework, and their behavior.

Help your child get things back to school. Have a system where your child is responsible for their things. They will forget things, and it’s okay for you NOT to rush back to school with what they forgot.

Please send your child ready to learn. It’s more than sleep and breakfast. Send them to me with the attitude that what they do every day at school is important.

I have high expectations Please don’t mistake that for “being too hard on” your child. I never expect them to know all the answers, but I expect them to put forth effort and participate.


School is not always fun. I will teach your child new skills, that they may not find “fun”. I try to make things engaging and interesting for my students, but your child will not find everything we do “fun”

your child may not always earn the grade you want them to. If they feel pressured to make all “A’s”, they are likely to not want to try something that is more challenging that may not result in an A.

I want to know what things outside of school might be effecting your child. Your child can’t solve adult problems, but they will sure take on the burden of them. And please discuss those things with me without trashing your ex-spouse or a step-parent.

I want to hear your

I truly understand and will help

questions & concerns.

you any way I can.

I can’t always respond to an email or phone call immediately. I have 30 minutes for a non-duty lunch, and one planning period a day. I do value communication, but please be patient.

I have raised 2 girls, who are 23 and 20, and I have been a single mom. So, I have been through many of the parenting issues you might be facing.

Please read the notes I send home.

I am human,

There is a reason for them. One year, in my weekly letter, I shared that we would have “reading under the stars” at school. They could bring flashlights, pillows and blankets. I only had 3 out of 21 who participated. I had failed to tell the students, but it was very insightful to see that the communication was not being read.

I will take a few days off to visit my daughters, who both live away. I will make mistakes, which I will apologize for. I will sometimes push your child too much and sometimes not enough, until I get to know them better. I will forget to send things home, I will mis-grade your child’s paper and no telling what else….please show me grace and patience.

Looks can be deceiving: Just because I am the oldest teacher on my team, please do not think I am not current on teaching styles and curriculum. I am still teaching after 29 years because I love what I do. Yes, I even use iPads in my class.

Ask your child every day what they did at school. I promise you they did something. This will help them understand how important their school day really is.

I value technology

So, even though your child may

...and will use it in my classroom, but sometimes, sitting on the floor in a circle is the best way to share ideas and learn.

not know everything on all

I did not choose this so I could have summers off. I decided to become a teacher when I was in the second grade, after wondering why I could read, and my friend Mary could not.

those checklists for the next grade, it’s okay. We can get there working together. We asked a middle school teacher the same question! See her answers on the next page!

Paula Teegardin Boling is an elementary teacher in Frenship ISD in Lubbock, Texas. This August starts her 30th year in the classroom. 21

Middle school can be intimidating for your child. Eunabeth Williamson, classroom teacher in Amarillo offers her advice. First, let me say that if you are the parent of a current or soon-to-be middle school student, bless you! These years of a young person’s life are some of the most crucial in his/her development. Thanks to the wonderful world of puberty, these years are usually anything but routine and predictable. But, take heart-you can survive. Better yet, so can your child! When gearing up for the start of your child’s middle school experience, here are a few thoughts to consider:

Middle school isn’t as scary as you think It’s pretty normal for kids to be more than a little nervous about starting middle school, especially if it involves going to a different campus with kids they have never been in class with before. Just remind them that most kids are just as nervous as they are. Encourage them to relax and be themselves. Teachers at middle school are not that different from teachers they have had before. They expect the same: good behavior choices and a good work ethic.

Encourage good study skills


periods of time. This really doesn’t give them a good return on their time. Instead, try a more manageable approach. For example, have your child study material for 10 minutes; review for 2; break for 2. Repeat this 10-2-2 cycle as many times as needed to cover the material in its entirety. This is much more productive than sitting for 3 or 4 hours without a break. Additionally, students will be more consistently successful if they take the time to review new material as soon as possible after receiving it rather than waiting until the night before the big test to try and understand it all.

Resist the urge to always “bail them out” Kids in middle school are still kids, it’s true. However, they are old enough to accept responsibility for school related tasks like homework, projects, tests, and the like. As hard as it may seem, sometimes the best way for a child to learn the importance of being responsible is to learn from the consequences of being irresponsible. Of course, there are unique circumstances that call for a unique response. The overall goal is to avoid enabling them to depend on you to pick up their slack.

Consider limiting

and habits

extra-curricular activities

Unless your child is naturally organized and selfinitiating, they will need some guidance in this area. Most kids truly do not know HOW to study. It is usually easier to study in a manner that fits well with his/her learning style. If your child does better with studying out loud, help create an environment that allows them to do this. If they are more visual or hands-on, the traditional “flash card” approach may be a better fit. Try to prevent them from “cramming” for long, uninterrupted

One “cool” thing about middle school is having the chance to participate in more than just the 3 R’s. Many valuable life lessons are learned through extra-curricular activities, but becoming over-extended can make it much harder for your child to succeed academically. From the parents’ standpoint, there are also the financial expenses associated with all these activities. Help your child prioritize their choices in this area and lessen their and your stress down the road.

Be aware of your child’s circle of influence Kids don’t go to school because they love algebra. It’s all about friends! It is so important for you as the parent to know who your child is socializing with, both in and out of class. Kids are very influential at this stage. Help them know what a good influence looks like. If you are concerned about their choices, communicate that to them. Keep the lines of communication open, especially when it comes to their friend choices.

Middle school is definitely a time of transition, but it doesn’t have to be totally turbulent. Communication with your child and his/ her teachers, along with love, patience, and keeping your role as the parent, will go a long way in smoothing out the rough spots.


What about parents? We know you tran

We asked Kris VAughn and Beth Crymes - two PTA veterans wha My kids are almost done with high school, and I will have an empty nest in two years. We have lived in the same house and they have attended the three neighborhood schools in our feeder pattern. I hope this helps as you welcome new faces and as you are the new face. • Ask a neighbor/friend with older students how to get involved. • Initiate the conversation. You never know what doors will open. A simple interaction may uncover similar interests, acquaintances, etc.

Not everyone is comfortable initiating the conversation. Discuss how your PTA can provide ways for new faces to learn more about supporting PTA efforts. How about:

• Attend events, stay informed and be prepared to roll up your sleeves and help. Stay focused on the students and the mission of PTA.

• The PTSA hosts a coffee for the feeder school PTA leaders.

• I asked the elementary front office staff how I could help and soon became the “on-call” parent volunteer for them. This led to office substitute employment. My perspective from both sides of the office “counter” was beneficial as I become more involved with PTA leadership. My first leadership role with PTA was as a Council Delegate. I remember going straight to the new president after the election meeting and asking how I could help. After a few years experiencing service as a Council leader I was elected Council President. As I transitioned to middle school PTA, my reputation arrived before me. I was able to quickly begin relationships with the office staff and was elected 1st VP of Ways & Means as a new 6th grade mom. My son and I were experiencing the new building, students and staff together – great conversation topics rather than ‘how was school today?’ Middle school years flew by and my PTA service continue to expand. I served as Area 16 PTA President and then as Texas PTA Membership chair. Before my oldest moved to high school, I


asked familiar PTA volunteers already involved to consider me for any openings on the board. I served the next year as chair of a student recognition program. Again, my son and I experienced a new school together. The next year I was elected president – my first time as a PTA President – and loved focusing on student programs and parent education.

• Mention PTA opportunities when meeting new people at school. I met a mom chaperoning a field trip and before we got back that day she was excited to organize spirit wear next year! (We still laugh about that when running into each other at school events.) • PTA Welcoming Committee – do you have volunteers at the door for each event thanking people for coming? Positive first impressions and new connections are made. • Think about how you can encourage others. Everyone’s trip through PTA volunteering has a unique GPS route with various pit stops, toll roads, detours and scenic views. However, our final destination is the same – every child’s potential is a reality.

Enjoy your PTA travels. I’ll be sure to give you a big smile and wave when our paths cross. Kris Vaughn

nsistion right along with the kiddos.

at to do when you are moving to a new school and a new PTA. Parents and families need a little guidance when making the transition moving on to the next campus and the next PTA too. It is all about reaching out. It doesn’t matter if you are incoming or outgoing…Don’t wait for someone to call you! If you have a student moving on to the next campus, reach out to the current PTA leaders to let them know you are interested in joining the PTA. I promise they will be more than happy to hear from you! If you are a current PTA leader, reach out to those incoming families. Send PTA information to the campuses that feed your campus and ask that it is distributed to the PTA members or families. Most Jr. High, Intermediate, Middle and High school campuses have an Orientation or some type of event so the students can tour the campus and sign up for classes or electives to plan their educational path. This is a great time to locate and invite families to become involved or continue their support of their student’s education. If you are a current PTA leader, ask the administration if you can set up a PTA table. Distribute PTA information, parent education opportunities, a calendar with upcoming events and PTA meeting dates. Have membership envelopes available so that they may join the PTA for the upcoming year. Pass out PTA Board Interest forms with the PTA’s positions and duties of the officers/chairman listed and include contact information for the Nominating Committee. This is a great time to reach out to those incoming families to get them involved. Be inclusive, if you have some willing to do a job make sure you find a job for them to do! If your student will be making that move to the next campus, don’t wait, call the school in February or March to find out when the last PTA meeting of the year will be held. Plan to attend the meeting, inquire about joining the PTA and ask how to

contact the Nominating Committee if you are interested in serving on the PTA Board. Don’t be shy! Let them know you want to be a part of the PTA, that you are available to volunteer and what strengths you may have. Join the PTA! Those PTA leaders are looking for new leaders to fill their positions because at some point they will be moving on too. Now you are a member of a newly elected PTA Board. The officers and chairman could be a mixture of leaders from several different feeder schools, returning board members or those new to the school. It is time to work together to set goals, prepare plans of work and figure out what will be best for the school and it’s PTA. Schedule a time of planning for the upcoming school year. Remember, just like any other volunteer organization, each member of the newly elected board has a voice. Come together to work for the good of the PTA and put aside that we have always done it this way attitude. Look at the PTA’s past. What worked? What didn’t? What will be best for the future of the PTA? Ask for input from the campus administration and staff. Attend training and use the resources provided by Texas PTA or your Council of PTAs. Together as a board with decide what future goals the PTA wants to reach and then present them to the general membership for their approval and support.

Don’t wait. Reach out! PTA’s success and its vision of making every child’s potential a reality depends on YOU! Beth Crymes


As students and parents prepare for the transition between summer time and the school year, homework might be an overlooked topic. After all, none has been assigned yet. However, if your child struggles to complete assignments on time or independently, then getting a head start on a healthy homework attitude and routine might be exactly what your family needs. Homework is not usually something children or parents look forward to each night. After-school activities often extend an already long day. Everyone is physically and mentally worn out. For students, it’s so easy to postpone assignments to the next night and parents don’t have the energy to put up much of a fight. That’s why you can do your family and yourself a huge favor by establishing the right mind set for homework before the school year begins. Managing homework time starts with the right attitude. Students need to understand that doing the hard stuff first and the easy, fun stuff later has a big payoff. This is known as delaying gratification.

Leading social scientists agree that the ability to delay gratification is a better predictor of a child’s success in school and in life than IQ, grades or standardized test scores. 26

Completing homework before watching TV, playing video games or hanging out with friends is a perfect way for students to practice this important skill. Children often need to be reminded that it’s ok for homework to be hard. Just attempting a difficult academic task makes minds stronger. Children (and adults) build brain strength just by trying and putting forth effort. This is called a growth mind set and research shows it helps children persevere academically. Society often sends an incorrect message to children that tasks should come easily and if instead something is hard then they’re just not smart. This is false and as parents we can help our children persevere through often difficult responsibilities, like homework, by making this point clearly and consistently. Parents can further support a healthy attitude about homework by explaining the importance of this responsibility and how it helps children in school. Here are a few of my favorite benefits of doing homework: • Improves thinking and memory • Develops study skills that are critical for college success

• Teaches responsibility and independence (when children do their own work) • Lets children know if they understand the material from class Homework is an unavoidable component of school that increases as a child gets older. According to a University of Michigan study, children 6-8 years of age have about 30 minutes of homework per night on average. The National Center for Educational Statistics reports high school students who do homework outside of school average almost 7 hours of homework per week.

So, having the right foundation for a homework routine is critical given the amount of time this

distractions, well-lit and well-stocked with paper, pencils, pens, calculators, According to a recent graphing paper, rulers and Sylvan Learning survey, reading ranks at the bottom any other supply needed to complete homework of the list of daily summer assignments. Make sure activities behind playing this space is ready and in video games, watching use before school starts. television and playing This is the space that with friends. Set aside can be used for summer 30 minutes each evening during the summer, around reading, math worksheets or any other academic the same time homework activity done to avoid will be done during the summer learning loss. school year, for reading and then reward this Once a routine is behavior. established, it still takes

Read Every Day

The Unplugged Club Nothing derails a healthy homework routine like screen time and electronic devices. Establish a “no screens” rule until a certain hour each evening and start this before the school year begins. Setting up new routines is difficult so if you can do this before the stress and workload of the school year begins, the chances it’ll stick are better.

task requires.

Same Place, Same Time

Parents can help students establish a homework routine even before school starts with these steps:

Set up a room or space in your home where homework will be completed every week day at the same time. This space should be free of

work to maintain it, especially as the school year progresses and the schoolwork becomes more challenging. Here are some ways to sustain a solid homework routine:

One Day at a Time Show your child how to break up larger assignments into smaller pieces and how to chip away at each piece every week day. Finding natural stopping points will give children a sense of accomplishment. This could be finishing a paragraph of a writing assignment or completing one math word problem. 27

Homework Time vs Study Time Students need to understand the difference between doing homework, which is reactive, and studying, which is proactive. Even if students say they do not have homework, they can still take 30 minutes to review class notes, graded assignments and/or write a summary of an assigned chapter in their textbook. This keeps the routine going and reinforces the content they have learned in class.

Get Organized Homework time will be easier to manage if students know where their schoolwork and assignments are located. Each subject should have its own spiral for notes and folder/ binder for assignments and quizzes. However, all assignments should be written down in a planner along with the due date so students can see all assignments in one place.

Reward System This will vary depending on each family, age of student and his/her interests but children often benefit from extrinsic (comes from the outside) motivation which with time can lead to intrinsic (comes from within) motivation. Expectations and rewards need to be established in advance and followed through on to build trust.

The weeks leading up to a new school year are a busy time but taking the time to establish the right attitude and routine for homework time will make it a smoother transition for everyone. By Crystal Cotti, Owner of Sylvan Learning of Austin. Crystal owns and manages six Sylvan Learning Centers in the Austin area and produces a weekly education segment for the FOX morning show.

back the future for Continuing Education! Did you know that Texas PTA offers scholarships to graduating high school seniors and faculty members seeking advanced education? PTA membership is an eligibility requirement for both student and faculty member, so join early to facilitate easy membership verification. Information and application links will be available on the Texas PTA website in late September. 28

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VolunteerSpot makes your volunteer life easier; check out these simple tips for making your family life stress-less during this busy back-toschool season:




After School

Teach your kiddos how to use an alarm clock:

Healthy Snacks:

Believe it or not, the younger the better! Back to school is exciting and being in charge of your own responsibilities helps kids feel even more grown up (and in control). Use music to motivate: How many things can you get done in one song? • Brush your teeth, make your bed & get dirty laundry tossed in the basket





o l: Si m

The trick to succeeding in the after school snack arena is in the “grab-n-go”. 1. Ask your kids to help you make a list of foods they like to snack on 2. Head to the grocery store or one of those bulk warehouse places & purchase at least 5 items from the list 3. Once home (and here’s the step everyone overlooks) store the after school stuff in snack-friendly ways:

• Pack your lunch

• Small containers / snack baggies filled with crackers or nuts in a cabinet,

• Get out the door: put on shoes, jacket & grab all items needed for the day

• Maybe in the fridge they’ll find blueberries or carrots

By making it a game everyone (including the parents) forgets to be stressed!

• Group “pre-approved” snacks together so there’s no reason to interrupt anyone else

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• Do you have Snack Duty for teams or activities? Buy a non-perishable snack like granola bars and case of juice boxes or water at the start of the season so you’re ready to go when it’s your turn. TIP: Offer to organize the snack schedule quickly and easily with simple signups by VolunteerSpot. Automated reminders mean you’ll never miss your turn! Homework: Establishing a positive homework routine at the start of the year makes things run smoother later on when workload ramps up. 1. Start at the same time each day in the same place – free from TV and other distractions 2. Skip the search – have materials ready. TIP: enlist the kids to stock a homework ‘tackle box’ with everything they might need, e.g. pencils, erasers, markers, glue sticks, calculator, scissors, compass, gum, wifi password

Work it smart: Each day ask the kids to make a list of all their assignments and start with the hardest one while they’re the freshest 3. Refuel with power-play breaks – 5 minutes between assignments Set expectations: If your child is home alone after school, establish what the routine should be (and practice it before school starts). Post the steps on the fridge as a reminder. They may look something like this: 1. Be in the house before 3:15pm 2. Lock the door behind you 3. Text me that you’ve made it home safe 4. Eat your {healthy} snack 5. Feed/water the animals 6. Start on your homework 7. Set the table for dinner at 5:30pm 31

Night Time Dinner: Avoiding the drive-thru as a quick on-the-go dinner solution is a serious uphill battle, especially during the transition to school time. Tricks we’ve come up with over the years: 1. Grocery Store Prepared Counters. Not the healthiest, but often a much better solution than fast food or cereal (again) 2. Leftovers. When you do cook, double (or triple) the batch - you’re already in the kitchen, might as well make it a power session!

3. Restaurants. Not to sit down & eat in, but to call your “togo” order in. Enter contact information and bookmark menus to your favorites on your smartphone.

Bedtime Routines: Make the final act before starting the bed time routine packing the backpack for the next day 1. Homework 2. Special project items 3. Gear for after-school activities Practice these new strategies and before you know it, school will be in full-swing and your stress-

less family routine will become second nature. Happy Back-to-School! BONUS: All Texas PTA Members get FREE VolunteerSpot Premium Upgrades (up to a $300 value). Take a tour and get started today at

April Welch is and organization expert, speaker, and veteran mom of two teenage boys. Check out her tips for decluttering throughout the year and meet April at

FREE Back-to-School Publications! Take Care of Texas is a statewide campaign from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The campaign offers free educational materials and online resources to encourage all Texans to help keep our air and water clean, conserve water and energy, and reduce waste. To order publications, go to our website at <>. Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

TEXAS PTA CONCERNED ABOUT USE OF ELECTRONIC CIGARETTES BY YOUTH E-cigarettes are rapidly becoming an alternative to smoking for many Americans. Advertised as a smoking cessation tool, there is increasing evidence that young people are taking them up. Other than the obvious concern about young people introducing nicotine into their developing bodies, becoming addicted, new concerns are emerging about how these nicotine delivery instruments may be used for other purposes.

Currently, electronic cigarettes are not regulated nor is the e-liquid. The makeup of the e-liquid is not known and varies from vendor to vendor. Devices are manufactured mainly in China where they were invented.

E-cigarettes donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t face the same restrictions on marketing as tobacco, the products are not taxed like cigarettes and they go through no approval process. Vape store (the name for stores that sell e-cigarettes) workers often Electronic cigarettes are battery-powered mix their own â&#x20AC;&#x153;e-juicesâ&#x20AC;? using flavors devices that simulate tobacco smoking by such as watermelon, chocolate chip producing a vapor that resembles smoke. or banana cream pie, with 50% liquid Generally, a heating element known as an nicotine solution purchased from online atomizer vaporizes a liquid solution known wholesalers. as e-liquid that contains nicotine. The benefits and risks of e-cigarettes are not known. There is some evidence that e-cigarettes may be safer than smoking tobacco products, but there is insufficient data to be certain.


No regulation and low tax rates mean e-cigarettes are much less expensive than cigarettes. Combine low cost with aggressive marketing by e-cigarette brands similar to that used in the 1950s and 1960s to popularize cigarettes and you have a recipe for dramatic increase in use by youth and teens. Up to 10% of American high school students have used them as of 2012 and that number is climbing. With the spread of e-cigarette use, accidental nicotine poisoning has increased, especially among children, due to ingestion or skin exposure to e-cigarette liquids. In the US, the number of calls to poison control centers associated with e-cigarette liquid rose from one per month in September 2010 to 215 per month in February 2014; the proportion related to e-cigarettes jumped from 0.3 percent in September 2010 to 41.7 percent in February 2014. More than half of the calls to poison centers due to e-cigarettes involved children under 5 years old.

Many countries are currently debating and passing laws to regulate e-cigarettes. The European Parliament passed legislation to require standardization of liquids and personal vaporizers, disclosure of ingredients, and child- and tamper-proofing of liquid containers. The Food and Drug Administration has proposed similar regulations this spring, requiring warning labels about nicotine addiction, banning their sale to minors, and requiring all of the products to go through an agency approval process. Nicotine, though, isn’t the only addiction the products can deliver. E-cigarettes are also perfect for vaporizing illegal drugs and that has federal and state officials increasingly concerned. It’s an issue that has the attention now of law enforcement. “Any type of water-soluble drugs -- and synthetic drugs would certainly fall into that category -- can be consumed through these e-cigarette devices that we’re seeing more and more of,” said Paul Wilson, a sergeant in the narcotics

unit of the Rochester Police Department. Richard Hurt, director of Mayo Clinic’s Nicotine Dependence Center, expects the use of e-cigarettes for drugs other than nicotine to continue to increase -- in part because of the device’s discreet nature. That’s concerning, he said, because inhaling a drug is the most efficient way to get it to the brain. “Inhalation of any drug helps determine its addictive potential. The faster you get it into the blood stream, the more addicting it is,” he said. “That’s why crack cocaine is more addicting than snorting cocaine. Because when you smoke crack cocaine it goes into the outer reaches of the lung and produces a very high level that gets to the brain very quickly.” Texas PTA has identified the regulation and taxation of e-cigarettes as a top priority for the next session of the Texas Legislature that begins January 13, 2015.


Meet the Press We asked Allison Strupeck, Texas PTA’s new Director of Member Services to help us get to know her a little bit better. She joined our team in July and got her feet wet at LAUNCH in Houston. You will also have the chance to meet her at some of our LAUNCH satellite events and back the future days.


hen I joined the Texas PTA staff in Austin this summer as Director of Member Services, I felt like I was coming home in more ways than one. I am a native Texan, growing up in Friendswood near Houston until I was 9 years old then moving to the north Austin suburb of Georgetown. I graduated from the University of North Texas and enjoyed the city life in Austin for a few years before spreading my wings to the Midwest, where I earned a journalism degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and worked as a staff reporter covering late-night crime at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Eventually I decided to transition from journalism to school district public relations, becoming the director of communications for a large, diverse school district in suburban Chicago. I held this fast-paced position for eight years, which included parent and community relations, media relations, legislative outreach, and more. During this exciting time of professional growth, my personal life was equally blessed. I met my wonderful husband, and we gave birth to a healthy, adorable little boy, who I can hardly believe is turning 2 years old this month. But throughout my time in the Midwest, I longed to return to my roots. I missed the warmth (is that what we call it here in August?), the culture, the music, the food, the landscape, the outdoor fun and most of all the good, friendly people of the great State of Texas. There comes a time when your heart speaks more loudly than your head. Over the years, my heart made it clear that I should be near my parents here in Central Texas. Thankfully, my Chicago-born husband shared my passion, even buying himself a pair of celebratory cowboy boots to kick off (pun intended) our return. As you’d expect, my parents are more than pleased — but not simply because their younger daughter moved back to the area. They are also thrilled that I continue to advocate for students and communities through the Texas PTA. I come from a family


of educators, and you could say that this apple fell pretty close to the tree. My sister has been a bilingual teacher in the Dallas area for many years. My mother spent her career teaching high school foreign language, and my father capped in his career in public education with 25 years leading the policy division at the Texas Association of School Boards.

annual conference?” I told them that it was a perfect time. A perfect time to see Texas PTA at its best – creative, committed, connected. A perfect time to jump right in and get my feet wet. And a perfect time to LAUNCH (yes, another pun) our incredibly exciting back the future campaign.

After all, an investment in the education of Texas children is an investment in our communities’ future.

So you can see why Texas PTA truly feels like home to me. I feel honored and motivated to lend my skills and experiences – both personal and professional – to carry forward the legacy. After all, an investment in the education of Texas children is an investment in our communities’ future. A question I often heard from members I met last month at our Summer Leadership Seminar in Houston was, “What’s it like starting your new job right before the big

I believe deeply in this campaign and its potential to change the face – and the impact – of PTA throughout Texas. back the future is a membership campaign. But it’s so much more than that. It’s a call to rise, a fresh start, and a promise to our students. It’s the evolution of PTA’s public image from “fundraising club for moms” to “driver of community success.” Yes, this is the perfect time to inspire community members throughout the Lone Star State to join PTA and back the future. Let’s do this!

Our students arrive purpose. It’s critica foundation classes a express their Mariela

didn’t speak until she was four. She still has difficulty expressing herself through language and doesn’t easily make connections with her teachers or other students. Mariela also has perfect pitch and has found her home in choir where she not only communicates well but has become a leader among her peers.

Olivia was under

performing in school, she fidgeted a lot, and easily lost focus. Then she joined dance class, and there Olivia found a safe place to channel her energy through movement and in the process developed stronger self-confidence.

Jung’s family moved here from Korea in October and he spoke no English. No teachers or students knew his language, so he struggled in class and felt 38

completely isolated.

He joined the band and succeeded despite the language barrier. The band accepted Jung and began helping him with English. He now feels like he belongs and is welcome, and with the help of his band friends, he made the highest score on the ESL final!

Kevin wants to come to

school because it’s the safest place in his world. But he doesn’t trust others and is often disciplined for acting out in class. In art class, however, Kevin can work out his frustration when he molds clay and express his emotions by painting them on a blank canvas.

Music, dance, and art study isn’t just something extra for Mariela, Olivia, Jung, and Kevin. It’s essential. Their participation gives them the opportunity to develop discipline, to exercise creativity, and to connect and collaborate with others.

e at school with diverse talents, passion, and al that we create the right conditions, both in and enrichment courses, to grow their talent, passion, and deliver on their purpose. Like it is for these students, being in a fine arts program is often the primary reason some students go to school. Music, art, theatre or dance is the highlight of their day, and some can’t even wait for that, arriving before school and during breaks to practice. They are drawn to it because it’s safe, welcoming, and supportive, and, of course, because they get to experience the intense joy and satisfaction that comes from making music, dancing, acting, and creating art with their friends.

They learn how to express themselves, and through collaboration, become more sensitive to others.

Just as there are myriad reasons why students join fine arts programs, there are many beneficial byproducts of their participation.

They learn to encourage and champion the success of others. What students learn participating in the arts translates to lifelong skills that are at the heart of becoming a productive, positive, contributing member of society.

Students in an arts program are less likely to drop out of school. They strengthen their critical thinking skills.

They develop a greater crosscultural awareness. They have better grades in their other classes and become leaders in their school. They become determined and persistent for seeing things through. They are better able to maintain focus while absorbing information.

Regardless of the many benefits that come from studying music and other arts, we know that at the heart of it, the arts offer students the unique opportunity to experience something that comes from no other source—they get to discover and express a broad range of feelings they couldn’t otherwise put into words and they experience an extraordinary joy that only the arts can offer. If you want to fully grasp the value of arts study, walk into an elementary music or art room. Look at the faces of excited young students making music together or creating an art project and you’ll know that regardless of how it affects them beyond that moment, this is truly what makes the experience worthwhile.

— By Robert Floyd,

Executive Director, Texas Music Educator’s Association 39

point is the benefits that students get by participating in any extracurricular event.

As I look back on my high school career, the memories that really come to the forefront of my mind are the extracurricular events that I participated in. I was active in the National Honor Society, Student Council, and very active in my high schoolâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s FFA chapter. I would highly encourage any and all students to get involved in extracurricular activities, the benefits and memories that you will make last a lot longer than your four years in high school.

One of the first benefits of being involved was keeping up with my grades. I wanted to participate in the fun activities that were offered, but in order to do so I had to keep my grades up in each class. One of the biggest misconceptions is the name though; we are not all about farming.

The FFA changed its name in 1988 from Future Farmers of America to the National FFA Organization to symbolize the While attending Burleson High School leadership, speaking, I was active in the Burleson FFA career development, chapter where I was a chapter officer, interview, and record a district officer, an Area VIII officer, keeping skills, just to and am now proudly serving the Texas name a few, learned FFA as a state officer. by participating in the organization. FFA is the largest youth-led organization in the world. There are Whether itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the FFA, FFA chapters in all 50 states, Guam, football, band, or other the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. organizations the 40

All extracurricular events that have ties to high school are subject to the no pass, no play law. Students who want to play or participate have to keep their grades above a 70 in order to complete/play. I understand and agree that school and grades should be first, and the rule to keep your grades up helps a lot of students become successful in and out of the classroom. Research has shown that students who are active in extracurricular events in high school have a lower dropout rate,

higher GPA, and are The third benefit for more successful in being active is the standardize testing. lessons learned. For me the public The second benefit speaking, job to me in being interview, research, active is the time and writing skills requirement. Let me that I gained through explain, for me high the FFA will help me school flew by and with my career no the four years did matter if thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s public not seem to be but a relations, law, or blink of an eye. education. No doubt athletics, band, and I did not have a other organizations lot of extra time have skills that are taught to students to for TV, video help prepare them games, or social for the rest of their media which I lives like what I got think contributed out of the FFA.

or in a few cases full scholarship opportunities to play soccer, golf, bowling, softball, and volleyball while attending the university/college of their choice.

their annual State Convention to members who have been involved for 4 years.

What is the one piece of advice I would give to an In my case, being incoming high school freshman? involved with My response the FFA has without hesitation allowed me to earn scholarships would be to get involved. to help pay for college. The benefits exceed

Next year I will be attending Clarendon to my success in College on a The fourth benefit high school. that I need to touch livestock judging on is the scholarship scholarship because Students who are of my involvement opportunities that involved learn a in FFA in high students can take lifelong lesson in school. There are advantage of by time management. other students who being involved have gone on to in extracurricular You have to manage activities. Football is get scholarships your time to get through other king here in Texas, course work, home but there will be very organizations like work, and practice band, choir, dance, few students who in every day. Throw cheer, etc. move on to play a job on top of that college football and for some students Scholarship even less that go on and you get a time opportunities are out to play in the NFL, management lesson there for students, but football is not that will help you an example is this the only scholarship throughout life and summer the Texas sport. I have known prepare you for FFA will be awarding fellow classmates when you have a over 1 million dollars that have gotten career and a family. in scholarships at partial financial aid

that of anything you could imagine. I am a bit partial to the FFA and would encourage all students to get involved in your local FFA chapter, but just

getting involved in any extracurricular activity will make your high school career more enjoyable, teach you skills, and help lead to a successful high school career. 41

Common Core ­— Where does Texas PTA Stand? Recently U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan visited Texas to speak at the National PTA convention in Austin. His presence at the convention gave rise to questions from some members about Common Core Standards and Texas PTA’s position on them. What are the Common Core State Standards? The Common Core State Standards Initiative is an educational initiative that details what K-12 students should know in English language arts and mathematics at the end of each grade. The initiative is sponsored by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)


and seeks to establish consistent educational standards across the states as well as ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to enter credit-bearing courses at two- or four-year college programs or enter the workforce.

develop a comprehensive set of college and career readiness standards (CCRS).

Texas spent several years and millions of dollars developing these standards that, unlike Common Core, cover all core subjects, not just English and Math. Our What is Texas PTA’s state’s student assessment position on Common Core program, the State of Texas Standards? When Common Assessment of Academic Core Standards were Readiness (STAAR ®) is released in 2010 Texas based on the TEKS and the was one of, at that time, CCRS. very few states who chose not to adopt the standards. What is National PTA’s position on Common Core Texas had developed its Standards? Recently own set of standards, the Texas Essential Knowledge Texas PTA’s President, and Skills (TEKS) and had Leslie Boggs, spoke with Otha Thornton, completed National PTA’s President, work in regarding National 2008 to

PTA’s support of Common Core, “We agree with your opinion that these standards should be optional, and adopted by states who feel that Common Core raises the bar from their old standards, or those states whose old standards were comparable but who see them as a valuable way to collaborate across state lines. National PTA has never demanded that any state adopt Common Core.” Texas PTA embraces local control. Texas and Texas PTA both have a tradition of strong support for local control, for allowing important decisions to be made

by people who understand the unique concerns of the local population. Texas policymakers often oppose policies that emerge from the federal government. Most recently, the 83rd Texas Legislature passed House Bill 462, which prohibits the State Board of Education (SBOE) from adopting Common Core State Standards; prohibits school districts from using Common Core State Standards to meet the requirements to provide instruction in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS); prohibits a school district or open enrollment charter school from being required to offer the Common Core; and prohibits the Texas Education Agency from

adopting or developing assessments based on Common Core State Standards. Texas PTA supports our state standards and the rigor they represent. Texas PTA continues to focus its energy on implementing House Bill 5, the omnibus education bill passed in May of 2013, on securing adequate and equitable funding for public schools, on reducing the overemphasis on mandated assessment, and on the current review and refinement of the TEKS.


42 Texas PTAs earn recognition as National PTA School of Excellence National PTA School of Excellence is a recognition program that supports and celebrates partnerships between PTAs and schools to enrich the educational experience and overall well-being for all students. As a National PTA School of Excellence, families feel welcomed and empowered to support student success, and PTA is a key partner for continuous school improvement. The path to excellence starts with a joint commitment of PTA and school leaders to work together to achieve PTAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s National Standards for Family-School Partnerships. Through the School of Excellence program, your PTA and school will gain new ways to engage families in school decision-making, such as improvements to programs, practices and policies related to education, health, safety or the arts.



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Dr John M Folks Middle School

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Katherine Stephens Elem PTA

Judge Andy Mireles Elementary

E. E. Toler Elem PTA

Kimberlin Academy PTA

Van Alstyne Intermediate PTA

Leon Springs Elem PTA

Walnut Glen Academy for Excel PTA

Vernal Lister Elem PTA

Watson Technology Center PTA

M. D. Williams Elem PTA

C. A. Weaver Elem PTA

Congratulations to these PTAs for winning a Healthy Lifestyles: Energy Balance 101 Grant for $2,000!

Alex Sanger Elementary PTA Bertha Casey Elementary PTA Carl Schurz Elementary PTA 45

Give till it hurts: Continued from page 3 In the spring issue of The Voice, we laid out the frame work for this year’s financial education series. We introduced methods on how to teach your kids that money doesn’t grow on trees. We set the foundation on which we can build a financial foundation for our kids. Texas PTA’s mission is to ensure that every child’s potential becomes a reality. That means that we as a PTA family should invest in our children’s financial education because one day our kids will be running our businesses and government. We’ve already discussed some key foundations: Money isn’t Endless, The Art of Savings, and Budgeting.

Mother Teresa is famously quoted saying we should learn to give until hit hurts. “I must be willing to give whatever it takes to do good to others. This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts. Otherwise, there is no true love in me, and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me.” Imagine if we all lived this way. There would be no need for government welfare assistance and poverty could become a thing of the past. This may be a daunting task for the “A typical” American family and PTA member, but there are many areas of need that even we as PTA members and parents can do now.

From birth to adulthood, “sharing” is a hard In this article we are going concept to fully grasp and to discuss the art of giving implement. When we’re and how to cultivate a kids, sharing our toys generous heart in our kids. proves to be a difficult task These four foundations of and that same mentality financial literacy are key of sharing our positions to ensuring our children as adults can be equally grow up to be self-sufficient as difficult. Before we citizens who can contribute dive in, let’s first start by to the tax base and are establishing “why.” successful long into adulthood. Half of Texas households are one crisis away from 48

poverty, according to a new report that ranks the state 37th in residents’ overall financial security. In Texas, 49.8 percent of households are liquid-asset poor, compared to 43.5 percent in the nation as a whole.

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” Charles Dickens Texas ranks 30th in the country for liquidasset

poverty. The report also ranks Texas 42nd for its percentage of lowwage jobs: 27.8 percent (MacLaggan, C, 2014). Let’s put this into PTA language. In the 199697 school year, about 1.8 million students, or 48.1 percent of all Texas students, were identified as economically disadvantaged. In the 2006-07 school year, about 2.5 million children – 55.5 percent of all Texas students – were considered economically disadvantaged (Texas State Comptroller, 2008). As of today that percentage is 60.10% of Texas students are designated economically disadvantaged (TEA, 2014).

a giving attitude and you’ll see your child grow into a charitable giver. At this age, consider teaching them about what it means to be disadvantaged. Show them different levels of poverty and safely expose them to the need in your community.

“How wonderful that no one need wait a single moment to improve the world.” — Anne Frank

Try not to just donate the toys no longer played with, but have each child choose a special toy to give away. It may not be easy at first, but with your guidance, you’ll see your child start to make good choices. Another great option is Operation Christmas Child. Take a shoe box and fill it with toys and hygiene products. Opt to “follow” the package when signing up on line and show your child where their gift is going and how it will impact another community.

Middle School

By Middle School your child knows about disadvantage Many of you are in these and may be able to pick school districts and can see We started in our house out opportunities where the need first hand. The they can contribute. At by talking about toys. Our “need” is out there and is this stage, their “toys” are toy bins are overrun with rising. What can you and toys collected from birthday bigger and generally your kids do to help? cost more. parties, kid’s meals, and homemade trinkets from Consider the same clean school. Consider cleaning up task here but have out toy bins about every 6 the child consider giving I believe it’s pivotal to months. Start a “donate” something away that they teach your elementary box and let the kids choose themselves paid for and do student about what toys to donate. so joyfully. This is not only generosity. Teach them a good age group to at a young age, model



As we prepare for another back-to-school rush with shopping, school supplies, sports and schedules, we’re reminded that education is at the core of our community and that PTA plays a critical role in the success of our schools and students. We’ve all seen the positive impact that active parents and families can have on student achievement, and our shared vision of making every child’s potential a reality is creating new opportunities in classrooms, caring mentors and strong family-school partnerships. It would be easy to rest on the accomplishments of our first 106 years of service to Texas families, but now is the time for us to rededicate and reinvest in our commitment for the future generations of young Texans. Texas PTA is leading the way with the construction of your new headquarters at 408 West 11th Street in downtown Austin. After nearly 75 years at 408, we will return there next February to begin a new century of family engagement, parent education and advocacy.

You also have the unique opportunity to help ensure our continued success through the 408 x 408 campaign. Your support of this campaign is more than a donation, it’s an outward and visible statement that you believe in the power of family and that the work of PTA in our communities is valuable and meaningful.

For a tax-deductible contribution of $408, the first 408 donors will be recognized and honored in a permanent display located in our new headquarters, opening in 2015. Each visitor or dignitary who walks through the doors of Texas PTA will know that you, your business or PTA/PTSA is a passionate advocate and steadfast voice for every child. 408 x 408 donors will also be publically recognized in our annual report, local print media and on the Texas PTA website. Supporting the programs and services of PTA should never be a burden, so we’ve provided the options of one, four or twelve installments to allow for easier participation.

From Beaumont to El Paso, Harlingen to Amarillo and everywhere in between – the 408 x 408 campaign gives every parent, teacher, administrator, community Visit our today to be one of the first 408 to help Texas PTA back the future member, business owner and PTA/PTSA TXPTA.pdf 1 1/24/2014 to 5:35:10 PM the chance back the future for tomorrow for years to come! and beyond.

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Give till it hurts: Continued from page 49 reiterate the need to be generous but it’s also a great time to teach your child to think about someone other than themselves. Selflessly with joy and happiness are traits that few adults can master let alone a hormonal tween. BUT again, if you yourself can model this behavior and continually expose your child to safe opportunities to give, then do so. This is also a good age group to start teaching about giving financially. Like savings, start small and work with realistic goals. Continue the habits of savings you’ve instilled in them, by setting aside a portion for financial giving as well. Even if that means giving the homeless man on the corner $5 each month, you’ll be teaching your middle school pre-teen to think beyond themselves and how they can impact their community by putting their money to good use.

High School Your high school child may be thinking of everything else at this age besides those in need around them. But a high school student who can give with happiness and do so consistently is more likely to succeed in college and to become a leader in their field. Any individual who can think and act outside of themselves is more likely to be successful in all they do. Many schools have community service programs that require students to participate in some sort of charitable activity.

However, the giving shouldn’t stop there. High school students are at the age where they can give financially of their allowance and earnings. Do some research with them and find a cause they can “buy” into. If college is on their minds, they may want to consider contributing to a scholarship fund for disadvantaged students in their communities. At this age, time may be more valuable than money. With school work and other activities, your high schooler’s time is precious. Consider donating their time at a food pantry or a community build project. Make it a family event and have the whole family join the project. Model the behavior you’re looking for by engaging in their activities. No matter how big or small, your students can and will make a difference in your communities. The biggest take-away in this financial literacy series to be engaged with your kids. Not only teach, but model these financial foundations for your children. Show them that money doesn’t grow on trees, that saving can be done easily, and budget isn’t a dirty word. Your involvement in your child’s lives is pivotal for their success. Texas PTA strives to empower communities by equipping Local PTAs with the resources necessary to ensure every child’s potential becomes a reality. With a giving spirit, your Local PTA and your child can make a huge impact in our communities across Texas. 53

back the future and get connected! Join PTAs all across Texas for

PTA Connection Day

Call, text, or email the total number of members your PTA has recruited so far this year to Texas PTA on September 18, 2014! Staff will be standing by to record your information. We will keep a running tally of our statewide total. Watch the total rise and know that your PTA is counted in that total! Participating PTAs will be eligible for a prize drawing. 54

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The Voice Fall 2014 • Vol. 105, No. 3

Texas PTA is happy to welcome these new PTAs to our family! Alba-Golden Alba Sancy Green

KDE Katy Gina Babineaux

DeWalt School La Porte Wayne Drastata

McSpedden Frisco Angela Benner

Energy Institute Houston Teresa Maltbia

Newman Frisco Ticey Geyer

Gooch Gators Dallas Yahaira Rodriguez Grand Prairie Collegiate Institution Grand Prairie Julie Mitchell

REAL Learning Academy Austin Abel Tamez Scott Elementary Mckinney Jody Daley

Prestwick STEM Academy The Colony Anna Williams Randolph Fulshear Shelley Rajagopalan

Hosp Elementary Frisco Liz Smith

7600 Chevy Chase Drive Building 2, Suite 300 Austin, Tx 78752 •

Texas PTA Board of Directors: President - Leslie Boggs

President-Elect - Lisa Holbrook Vice President Field Service - Catherine Carlin Vice President Leadership - Chris Zimmer Vice President Membership - Elizabeth Campbell, J.D. Vice President Programs & Resources Heather Ashwell-Hair Secretary - Sheri Doss Treasurer - Beth Crymes

Southmayd Houston Cruz Garcia


Tex Hill Middle School San Antonio Monica Pipes

Fred Henley, J.D.

Viridian Elementary Arlington Joseph Geraty

Pierr Castillo Frances Fass Lee Guerra Dr. Sylvia Reyna Neil Shelby Dr. Greg Smith Executive Director - Kyle Ward, CAE Editor-in-Chief - Melissa Day Designer - Catherine Sneed The Voice, the official publication of the Texas Congress of Parents and Teachers, is published four times a year — fall, winter, spring and summer. Call 512-476-6769 or visit us on the web for more information. Disclaimer: Articles and advertisements in The Voice do not necessarily represent the viewpoints or policies of Texas PTA. Texas PTA does not endorse non-PTA products or services mentioned in this publication. Reprint permission: Unless otherwise noted, PTAs may reproduce and distribute the materials from The Voice without express written permission. Texas PTA materials may not be duplicated by any other organization or person without written permission from the editor.

Remind (formerly Remind101) is a free, safe and easy way for teachers to connect instantly with students and parents. Any teacher can sign up fast, create a class, add students and start messaging. Students and parents can sign up by text, email or online through a unique class code. Phone numbers

are always kept private so that teacher-student-parent communication is 100% safe and secure. Kitestring checks up on you and then basically freaks out if you don’t respond. You know, like a parent. Enter a list of emergency contacts, then when

you want the app to look out for you, let it know that you’re going on a trip and when you plan to return. It will send you an SMS to check up on you. You simply need to reply to confirm that you haven’t died. If you don’t respond, the app then alerts your emergency contacts.

Profile for Texas PTA

The Voice | Fall 2014  

Everything you need to be ready for back-to-school including Texas PTA's new campaign: back the future.

The Voice | Fall 2014  

Everything you need to be ready for back-to-school including Texas PTA's new campaign: back the future.

Profile for txpta

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